Pre-Prehab for the Shoulders



The Subscapularis/Supraspinatus muscles is the area of the body that I describe as “sort of pork chop looking” which may help cut down on any thoughts that I’m some sort of physical therapist.

My previous posts on shoulder fitness has proven to be a popular topic here on My Trainer Chris and I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging information with several other personal trainers on the subject.

Since prevention always trumps repair, I have decided to list a few of my favorite shoulder pre-prehab tips.


(Left to Right) A cross-dressing guy running while wearing a ladies outfit, two guys getting ready for a soccer/football game with the one in the yellow updating Facebook about him going into “Beast Mode” at the gym (I’m positive he’s not on My Trainer Chris)  and one guy kind enough to remove his KKK hood before working out.

Perform logical warm-ups.  Nearly very time I’m in a commercial gym I see people simply walk in, load up weights and start training. Furthermore I often see trainers have clients “warm up” for 5-10 minutes walking on a treadmill, bike or elliptical before lifting weights.

In my opinion neither option is good or logical.  The 5-10 minutes spent on the cardio equipment would be vastly better served going through some mobility work / active warm-ups and 1-2 sets of lighter weight warm-ups sets to get the blood flowing before lifting heavy things.

Ankle /Knee mobility, Hip Flexor Stretching, Thoracic Spine mobilization and extension and Shoulder movements should be done as part of a regular warm up.



30 minutes or less. Think you’re antsy for that pizza delivery guy to arrive? Try being a personal trainer with a stacked schedule!  30 minute schedules can create a conflict if the trainer is stuck with fixed session lengths.  In situations such as these I have my “minimum-minimum” warm-up.  All three are to be performed, at present I haven’t been able to whittle things down any further than this.


Unloaded Deep Squats or Kettlebell Goblet Squats



Hip Flexor 90-90 Stretch.  You’ll be tempted to brace yourself on the front leg.  I coach my clients not to do this unless it is to re-calibrate their balance.


Chest Stretch can be done with or without a foam roller.

 Balance the Big Lifts.  In my programming I place a minimum-minimum of 24 hours recovery between squatting and pressing movements.  I will however pair a Squat, Clean/Row and Overhead Press, or Squat, Deadlift and Bench Press into the same workout.  Pressing the day before or after you’ve back squatted is inviting problems.


I’ll be headed to a TRX seminar next month!

Less is sometimes more.  Bodyweight training allows free and natural movement and dumbbells are exceptional for pressing movements.  My inclusion of bodyweight, dumbbell and kettlebell techniques has helped keep peoples shoulders from getting over-used.

Pulling vs. Push.  Originally I balance my pulling-pushing ratio at nearly 1:1.  I am now of the opinion that the ratio should be 2:1.  I believe rowing variations and general strengthening of the entire posterior chain will aid in preventing shoulder problems.


I do loves me some Pork Chops.

Localized work.  Specific work on the rotator cuff/posterior deltoid and infraspinatus (aka the porkchop looking area of your body) is in my opinion best hit by using the reverse fly (aka deltoid fly) with a neutral grip, dumbbell flies with a modified grip (grab DB handle at the rear, not the middle and twist the pinkies up at the top of the lift.


1. Why? 2. Couldn’t a weight vest have done the same trick?

Rows or Chins should be done at a higher rep/lighter weight range. The words “balance in training” is often misunderstood.  In this case, a person with a heavy bench press or overhead press number may be of the belief that he/she must perform heavy rows/chin ups to balance out the training.  This is the opposite of the truth.  Heavy weight chin ups are possibly more dangerous to your shoulders than heavy bench presses.



I’ve met people that if left to their own devices would be perfectly content on only curling that weight….somehow 2 lbs is too heavy yet a bucket of fried chicken or mega-topped stuffed crust pizza is liftable.

Don’t let your ego dictate your curl weight.  OK so I’ll contradict my last photo caption….but I am 100% certain there is a weight between zero and too heavy.   Going heavy on bicep curls risks wrist and elbow problems but can also aggravate the biceps tendon and lead to shoulder problems.  Use a more moderate weight, controlled tempo and shorter rest periods to work the biceps.

Get a Lacrosse Ball.  Use the ball to massage your upper back and pectorals.  It’s going to hurt, but trust me when I say you want to break up the nasty stuff that builds up in those muscles.

Know your upper half from your lower half.  Get Ups, Ab Rollouts, Thrusters and Overhead Squats all have one thing in common.  They all involve both the upper and lower body to perform (and are all pretty tough exercises.)  If you pressed the day before your shoulders will eventually hate you.

Change things up.  Overuse injuries comes from doing the same things over and over. While I believe in keeping things simple and concentrating on the major movement patterns I don’t subscribe to the idea of doing the same exercise without variation.

Common Sense.  When something is bothering you don’t do it.  Switch to something that doesn’t hurt.

Pain…now there’s a potential mega-blog worthy of my 50 Shades of Trainers or Trainers that Suck series…….


2 thoughts on “Pre-Prehab for the Shoulders

  1. Pingback: Shoulder Fitness | My Trainer Chris

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s