Exercises to Build Bulletproof Shoulders

by Mike Giunta, DPT, CSCS >> Request an Appointment

Many people talk about activating the rotator cuff as part of an injury prevention routine, but what does that actually mean? Standing with a resistance band by your side and externally rotating the shoulder alone just doesn’t cut it. Creating a closed chain – performing an exercise in which the distal aspect of the arm is fixed to a stationary object – and bearing weight through the joint will help activate the rotator cuff and help all of its muscles work together efficiently. Here are three exercises to improve stability and mobility in your shoulders and, ultimately, protect and strengthen them.

Arm Bar (3 x 10 reps each arm)

This exercise requires both shoulder stability and core control. Start by laying on your back with one knee bent and raised. With the arm on the same side, hold a kettlebell (or dumbbell) straight up above the shoulder. Roll over towards the straightened leg and keep the weight centered above the shoulder. Hold for 2 seconds while feeling the weight stack on the shoulder. Using control from your core, roll back to the starting position.

1/2 Kneeling Windmill (3 x 10 reps each arm)

Start by kneeling on one knee with your pelvis tucked forward and the glutes squeezed. With the weight

overhead, reach down for the floor with the other arm and create a closed chain from the floor through your opposite hand and up to the weight. Without pushing off the ground, fire the core muscles to return to the starting position, all while keep the weight centered and steady.

Bottoms Up Kettlebell Walk (2 x 1 min each arm)

Hold the kettlebell with the bottom up. With the core tightened, walk forward while keeping the shoulder and elbow flexion at a 90 degree position. Be sure to maintain stability.

Try these out and let us know what you think in the comments section!

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