Got Achy Shoulders? Here’s 10 Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

By Corey Beasley


Shoulders are one of those common trouble spots for many fighters and grapplers.

Wrestling, boxing, jiu jitsu and other training definitely put some wear and tear and our joints... add in the wrong strength work and its a recipe for disaster.

My wrestling coach used to have us do bench press, incline bench, dumbbell presses, dips, pull ups and curls...then it was back in the wrestling room for drilling. We looked good, but I couldn't put my arms above my head. Looking back, its comical, but many coaches and athletes are still making similar mistakes with their programs.

Shoulder pain can be caused by poor posture, weakness, imbalance and many other factors can create aches and pains that last awhile. The following videos showcase a few simple mobility and stability drills that can help improve the function of your shoulder joint.

10 Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

This first drill is one that I learned from Dr Andreo Spina during his FRC workshop in Costa Mesa.  This is a great drill to perform daily.  Try to keep the body still, arms straight and maximize the size of the circle throughout.

These next three drills are from Ingrid Marcum.  She visited our gym a couple months back and walked me through these 3 drills to get my shoulder blades moving.  Might sound simple but keeping the arms straight and moving from the shoulder blades only is a difficult task for many.

This next drill is another from Ingrid Marcum. Shoulder pinned down and back, body stright, elbows on the wall.  Hands should be outside and above the elbows.  The further your feet come away from the wall, the more pressure you'll have on the upper back.

We learned this drill from Dan John and he calls it the bat wing.  Use dumbbells, kettlebells or similar, lie face down on the bench, and row your thumbs to your arm pits.  This is humbling.

The next drill is a variation of of downward dog in Yoga. If you are comfortable with he down dog position and want to make it more challenging, you can simply raise one arm, without your body shifting.  This reduces your base of support and forces one arm and shoulder to stabilize.

This last one can be done with sandbags, weight plates or similar.  They are called HALOS.  Move slowly and keep your body still and head straight.  You can do them kneeling (as shown), half kneeling and standing.

{CAUTION} If you have acute (sharp) pain in your shoulders, please see a physical therapist or doctor before attempting any exercise program.

(PAY ATTENTION) The devil is in the details with many of these drills.  In order to get the most out of them, be sure to pay attention, and watch for excess body shifts, movements or compensations.

These drills can be used as warm up, on upper body days and/or between training sessions to keep the body moving and functioning properly.  Once you are pain free, have good function and stability then we can start doing more complex or intense exercises to improve strength.

What are some of your favorite shoulder exercises?  --> Leave a Comment Below ;)

Corey Beasley is a strength coach from Southern California and founder of Get Physical.  He has 20+ years of experiences and works with a wide variety of people.