So last night I was flung into a dilemma…minutes before I needed to leave to take my Monday kettlebells and conditioning class it became apparent that I had picked up some kind of tummy bug…and it wasn’t bothered that now I had to go and stand in front of a group of people and demonstrate the finer elements of some advanced swing versions etc…

However I persevered and decided that I could take on natures call and do the class anyway…I started the class and repeated one of the common cues that I use; ‘squeeze the glutes’ as they were swinging the menacing lumps of metal around…deep down I was telling myself what I should be doing…and trust me I was squeezing…

So after a successful class and actually keeping my mind off what could have been a massive disaster I realised that I had really activated my glutes by sheer clenching tension…I picked two kettlebells up off the floor with perfect deadlift form and had the deepest contraction in my glutes I could remember…winner

All in all I was quite happy to have survived the class without shitting myself and I was also pleasantly surprised at how well my ass seemed to be functioning…I’m not saying stomach bugs are a good thing but somehow I’d managed to create some good from it…

Today I feel much better but I don’t think I’ll risk another session…just in case I’m not as lucky next time.

So it’s that familiar story again…you were practicing handstands and your left shoulder burnt out well before your right…so you decided to do some overhead press with dumbbells and nearly caved your skull in when your left shoulder let you down again…must be because your right handed…or is it something you may be able to address?

Going into the gym and putting your shoulders through their range of motion is all good, but if you have a blatant weakness that you notice every time you go into the gym…shouldn’t you be addressing it?…if you’ve answered yes to that question and you want to know how, then read on….

Your joints react in a very similar way to a knot on a rope if they are unprepared…the un-even stress and tension on an unsuitable knot make it become the weak point…the more wear and tear, the weaker it becomes until it finally snaps…if a stronger more reliable knot is used then it’ll last longer and bear more load…apply this to your shoulder.

The shoulder has a the largest range of motion in the body and with that comes instability…instability leads to stress…from stress to injury…we need to create stability…how?…straight arm strength…and yes you may be surprised at how simple it may be to start improving.

Straight arm strength is important because it transfers the load to the joints in the correct way…making them work as they should and support you properly…examples of types of exercises used for this are: straight arm planks (including side versions), hangs and support holds…each one of these exercises requires that you stabilise the shoulders in a certain way in order for them to work and make you stronger.

Key points for each exercise:

Planks: push the shoulders away from the ears, screw them out so the pits of the elbows face the front (the way you are looking). Don’t let the shoulders roll forwards and in…too much tension in one part of the joint will eventually lead to weakness and injury- remember the knot in the rope.

Hangs: drive the shoulders down and pinch them back. Feel the lower traps start to fire off and contract rather than just lengthen out…the shoulders are fixed in close to the body now and you’ll be much more secure.

Support holds: on dip bars or parallel bars push the shoulders down the back and open the chest to pinch them together. Keep the crown of the head up to the ceiling and chin tucked in…this will stop your shoulders rolling forward and straining them much in the same way as the plank.

Assess how each shoulder feels…does one side want to come forward? Is it your weaker side? Then push and screw it back into place and hold it there!!!!!

Try 3-5 sets of 15-30 seconds of the above as part of your warm up or as part of core conditioning…do it for 4-6 weeks.

Eventually that weaker shoulder will start to feel better and you’ll find your handstands and overhead press improve as a knock on effect…be patient and consistent…your shoulders will thank you one day!

Any questions regarding this add them to the form below and I’ll help you out!