3 Exercise Progressions For Pain Free Healthy Shoulders

Here are some shoulder exercises that you can do to help train your shoulder until it's pain-free, or even to keep it healthy and pain-free. 

Banded Standing Overhead Press

1. Stand on a light rubber band
2. With one hand pull the band up with your palm facing you and your elbow tucked in
3. As you press the band over your head, externally rotate your hand
4. Try to keep the elbow tucked in and your shoulder close to your ear
5. Bring the hand back down to its start position

Main benefits

  • The band helps to activate the humeral depressors which stabilise the shoulder and should leave you pain-free when pressing

1/2 Kneeling KB Bottoms Up Press

1. In a half kneeling position grip a light kettlebell (KB)
2. With your weakest arm first lift the KB upside down and balance it next to your shoulder
3. Once balanced, press the KB above your head making sure to keep the KB balanced throughout the lift. Make sure the shoulder/ arm is in line with your ear, not in front
4. Control the KB back down next to the shoulder so you get a slight stretch at the bottom
5. Only do as many reps until you lose form (technical failure), match the number of reps you did on your weak side when you switch arms

Main Benefits

  • The 1/2 kneeling position wakes up all the sleepy muscles in the hips/ core to help you stabilise
  • The upside down position of the KB forces the stabiliser muscles of the shoulder to activate and stabilise. 
  • Your grip will weaken and the KB will become unstable if the weight is too heavy. The body has a kind of safety mechanism that forces you to lift the correct load with this exercise
  • Allows you to press overhead pain-free and strengthens the shoulder at the same time
  • Gives you a solid base for lifting heavier weights in your next phase

1/2 Kneeling KB Shoulder Press

1. 1/2 kneeling position
2. Allow the KB to rest on the back of the forearm, and partially on the front of the shoulder
3. Press the KB overhead keeping the arm in line with your ear
4. As you press overhead spiral the arm from your palm facing you to the palm facing in front of you
5. Bring the weight back down with control

Main Benefits

  • Very similar benefits to the KB bottoms up press. 
  • The way the KB sits on the arm activates the subscapularis (shoulder depressor) and external rotators
  • The shoulder receives more strength and stability gains than using a DB due to the shape and weight distribution of it

Yours In Health

Patrick Fallis

PS Here is an excellent video from strength coach Mike Boyle talking through each point

Founder of Leaner