How To Build Strong and Healthy Shoulders

Everyone wants to be healthy and strong, but if you ask ten people what that means, you can expect to get ten different answers.

Part of the way humans are wired is that we’re more motivated by loss avoidance than we are by potential gain. The easiest way for us to define something broad like “health” is via negativa: as the absence of pain or injury.

So we know what we don’t want, but we have trouble defining what we’d want from strong, health shoulders until we see an example:

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A post shared by Ryan Hurst (@ryhurst)

In that video, you can see Ryan easily supporting his weight with his arms and shoulders at all kinds of different angles, and you might think…

“Wow, I couldn’t do this in a million years.”

Some people feel too stiff, others feel too old, and some just don’t think it’s possible. But it’s doable for sure. If you need a reminder, you can check out all of our case studies.

Anyhow, while walking around on your hands might not be something you want to actually do, having the shoulder strength and stability to support your body in those positions is worth pursuing because of all the residual benefits.

Think about it. Your shoulders and upper back are so important for everyday things. Picking up your kids, playing sports with your friends, or lugging around some dirt for that garden you’ve started. So making them strong, and pain-free are no-brainers.

In our programs Elements and Integral Strength, we take you through a series of movements that build on each other, allowing you to progress steadily throughout the course of the workouts.

For anyone who wants to build strong shoulders using nothing but your bodyweight, the following progression is most natural when considering the level of strength and mobility you’ll need to develop.

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