Improve Your Overhead Lifting

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Improve Your Overhead Lifting | Week 17 | Movement Fix Monday

I love merging warm up/mobility/motor control drills with my technique work or my strength work. I don't think they should be separated from each other so much. We commonly have a "mobility" session or a "movement session", which can be fine, but why parse it out that way? Why do you want the improved movement or improved "mobility"? Probably to use it in a lift. So why do we train them so separately?

Why do you spend 30 minutes on mobility but never teach your brain how to control your range of motion before lifting heavy? Or why do you do mobility work after a workout and then go do nothing? You are missing a huge window of opportunity to teach your brain what you can actually DO with that range of motion. If you don't show the brain, it's not going to stick. The information is irrelevant to your brain and there is no context.

Laying on the ground and stretching doesn't translate to increased "flexibility". As soon as you stand up, you get a change in your muscle tone. Your muscles aren't just steaks that can be beaten to death. They are steaks that can be beaten to death that have electrical input and can change length via contraction. So you massaged them for 20 minutes, but what about the nervous systems' ability to cause a change in contraction? Why not address that? Ok now I am ranting.

This week I want to show you guys a way you can work on your overhead positioning, thoracic spine, and shoulders between sets of overhead lifting so you can actually get some of these movement changes to stick.

The first thing we have to realize is that a "shoulder mobility problem" isn't necessarily an issue with the shoulder joint. We should call it a limitation in overhead movement vs. a "shoulder mobility problem". The reason for that is you are now assuming it has to do with the shoulder joint itself, which isn't always the case. In fact, it could have nothing to do with flexibility of the actual shoulder joint or capsule, but rather it has to do with the ability of your shoulder blades to be positioned well on the rib cage, the curvature of your thoracic spine, your ability to create a solid anchoring point through your 'core', etc. Seeing a limitation in ability to lock out overhead and calling it a "shoulder mobility problem" is a mistake and an oversimplification. There are a lot of moving parts in the overhead lifting pattern.

An easy to complete series of movements that I show in the video is the following:

  1. A cat/camel with a thoracic extension bias (to help change the thoracic spine curvature to one that allows for better shoulder blade positioning)
  2. Some shoulder rotational work with the crossover symmetry bands AND breathing and abdominal bracing timing (to get upper back muscles working and couple shoulder movement with increased intra abdominal pressure)
  3. Pressing, jerking, push pressing, etc

The breathing technique I show during step 2 is vitally important and I don't do it justice by showing it so quickly, but I wanted to get it in there and start getting you to think about that a bit more. When we practice movements together, they will happen together more automatically. Working on breathing during the crossover symmetry work is a great time, because it is relatively easy to pull on the bands, so I can pay a huge amount of attention to the breathing and abdominal pressure. If you don't practice it with a lot of conscious thought, it won't happen automatically in your workouts.

If you want to improve your overhead lifting, start merging these pieces together.

Thanks for reading!

Need more hip and low back mobility? Start with Day 1 of our Hip/Low Back Mobility Program for free:

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