To Lift Overhead, or Not to Lift Overhead pt. 2: Stability and Strength

by TJ Hendrickson, DPT, OCS >> Request an Appointment


In part 1 of this series, we demonstrated some examples of overhead shoulder mobility exercises. Those exercises were aimed at improving end-range shoulder elevation range of motion needed for safe and efficient performance of any overhead lifting. As mobility begins to improve, one must then educate and strengthen the muscles in the newly acquired range of motion. Here in part 2, we introduce a few exercises that can help stabilize and strengthen the shoulder and scapular muscles.


In the presence of pain, make sure to always have an evaluation by your PT to have a routine tailored to your unique restrictions.


Turkish Get Up (3-5 reps on ground, 3-5 reps on elbow, 3-5 reps on hand, repeat 3-5 times each side)

The original test of the strongman and strongwoman! Here, we demonstrate the lower portion of the movement in 3 stages, which can be a good introduction without overwhelming the shoulder and core with the full movement. Start by choosing a lighter weight than you think you can handle, or no weight at all to familiarize yourself with the movement. It's always easier to add weight after you are feeling comfortable with the movement. Lying on your back with your hand inserted into the handle of the kettlebell, chest press the bell and keep the elbow locked with your wrist staying neutral. In the first position, slowly rotate your arm clockwise and counterclockwise in a comfortable range. After 3-5 slow reps, progress onto the elbow, then onto your hand, rotating the arm 3-5 times in each position before slowly lowering back to the ground. Make sure the shoulder blade of the arm on the ground stays engaged (no sagging on that arm). Repeat a few times on each side.



Bottoms Up Press (5-10 reps each side)

The core, shoulder and grip smoker! Grab the kettlebell by the handle with bottom up in front rack position. Grip tightly, engage your core and slowly press overhead. Lower back down and repeat. Progress your reps based on weight and ability level. If the bell starts to slip or tip STEP ASIDE and let it go - the bell will always win.



Wall Lift Off (10 reps x 1-2 sec)

Place light to medium resistance band in hands and raise arms overhead to make a “Y” with your body. Facing the wall, slowly lift arms off the wall and push chest out towards wall. Hold briefly, release and repeat.



Try these out and let us know what you think!

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