Do Not Skip Your Shoulder Warm-Up! Do THIS Instead
Written by Michele Vieux

It’s really easy to skip a warm-up on a because it’s “just shoulder press” and “we are starting light”. However I highly recommend that you DO warm-up by spending your time doing simple mobility and activation drills for the thoracic, shoulders and scaps to better prepare your body for this feat of brute strength.

Here’s a 10-minute warm-up you can do that only requires a roller or lacrosse ball:

  1. 3-4 Minutes of foam rolling the lats and thoracic. Remember to roll in all directions – north, south, east and west, so that you are rolling both with the muscle fibers and against them. Check out this article, The Fuzz, to see what you are battling here. When you find a spot, rest on it to apply pressure while focusing on long and calm breathing to help release it. If you are an advanced roller, then use the peanut (double lacrosse ball) on your thoracic area with the focus of mobilizing the spaces between the vertebrae.
  2. 15-20 Cat-Cow + 10 Posted Thoracic Twists per side. The cat-cow is a classic yoga move and a mobility drill that actually feels good! Since you are already down on all fours, might as well knock out some thoracic twists as well. Again – north, south, east, west movements. Here are the demos for these movements and more from Coach Holden’s T-Spine Mobility Tools.
  3. Wall Slides (or Floor Slides if you are really tight) x 10 @ 2020. These have been referred to as “the hardest exercise” ever by many and that is no joke, especially if you are maintaining virtuosity and tempo. Not only are these a great shoulder and scap exercise, they also force mobility work. Besides being the prescription for improvement, they are also the test as to how close you are to where you should be. You can’t overdo wall slides – the more the better!
  4. Y’s, T’s and W’s x 5-10 in each position. These super simple drills can also be used as supplemental work after you train. Keep the reps low before training sessions so that you are activating and not actually fatiguing the scap muscles. Make sure that you are focusing on the muscles surrounding the inner and lower scaps and NOT the upper traps. If you find yourself shrugging your shoulders to your ears, eliminate or modify the movement that is causing this (likely the Y’s) until you are able to perform them without doing this. To modify, find a position with your arms that is somewhere between Y and T where you can still maintain control then work your way to Y over the course of weeks or even months. 
  5. 3-4 minutes on a gymnastics or Olympic lifting skill of your choice. Since you aren’t using your legs, why bother run or Assault Bike? Think about doing something to get your arms and shoulders moving a little more like that skill work you’ve been meaning to get to. 

Gymnastics Skill Work Ideas:

Kipping Practice

Handstand Holds

Handstand Push-Ups

Wall Runs

Handstand Walks

HSPU Negatives

Muscle-Up Transitions

Bottom of Dip Holds

Top of Dip Holds

Plank on Rings

Etc…(see more here)

Olympic Lifting Skill Work Ideas:

Burgener Warm-Up

Jerk Technique Work

Shoulder to Overhead Cycling

Snatch Cycling

Try this out next time shoulder day comes up and let us know how it goes or if you have any other simple ideas to add! And for another fun idea, check out this Wednesday’s post: Shoulder to Overhead Barbell Warm-up which is designed specifically for your Oly shoulder days.

Also Check Out…

Benefits Of Olympic Weightlifting Shoes

Upper Anterior Chain Opener: The Scarecrow

Identifying Upper Cross Syndrome

Notify me of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
L Chase Lawrence
L Chase Lawrence
March 17, 2020 5:11 am

What are Y’s, T’s and W’s? Thanks. Is there a video?

Giovani Ricardo Dos Reis
Giovani Ricardo Dos Reis
August 3, 2017 4:14 pm

Hi, do you think it is necessary to perform joint rotations in the warm up? Sorry for my english.

Scroll to Top