Do you have “bulletproof” shoulders?

Jeroen van Duijn

Below are pictures of the lats, teres majors and pec majors, which all help to stabilize your shoulder.
You will be very strong if you can engage these muscles during their full range of motion, especially at their end ranges.

It is at the end ranges of motion where most injuries occur. This happens for example when our body tries to find alternative ways to create tension when going overhead or doing a pull-up (using the traps instead of in the lats) or when you absorb the impact of the bottom of the kipping pull-up with your ligaments, tendons, and nerves instead of with your muscles.

You can avoid all this by creating bulletproof shoulders.

The concentric action of the lats is shoulder extension (think lat pulldown). Unfortunately, many overlook the eccentric role of the lats with overhead pressing. When you press overhead, your lats are lengthening, which means they control shoulder flexion.
Unless you have excellent mobility (flexibility + tension) in your lats, then you won’t be able to maintain tension in your lats as you press your arms overhead.

The goal is to be able to maintain tension in your lats throughout the full 180 degrees of shoulder range of motion as you range your arms overhead. So if one of your lats is weak or not firing, this can interfere with overhead pressing.  Your lats are part of your external torque chain.

Have you ever heard of the teres major?

They are very important muscles, especially if you want to have healthy shoulder mechanics. You can think of them as the upper lats. The teres major spreads your lats (see picture below). They are part of your internal torque chain.

If you want to be able to do pull-ups, handstands, overhead pressing and ring muscle-ups, then do not neglect the strength/mobility of your teres majors.

Did you know that when you have a hip shift during a barbell back squats, that this might be caused by having weaker lats on one side of the body?

When one of your teres majors is weak, the barbell will be lower on the weaker side, so the hips end up shifting to the side opposite the weak teres major to compensate.

It is unfortunate that in most women’s training programs the pecs are often overlooked. The pecs will save your shoulders. The goal is to be able to keep your pecs engages in an overhead position so that your shoulders don’t shrug up. They are also part of your internal torque chain.

During our StrongFit session, we pay special attention to your shoulder mobility. Movements we do that will improve your shoulder health are:

Rope pulls

Lat pulldowns

T-Spine Opener

Shoulder Opener



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