This one is super obvious, we all know the answer. Better mid-thoracic mobility and stronger more robust shoulders.
Almost anyone who low bars and benches in the same week, for long enough, has a shoulder pain every now and then, very rarely do we take the time to fix it.
Why is does it take so long to make shoulder indestructible?
Your rotator cuff is 4 big muscles, and around 20 that attach to them. Your shoulder is one of the complex systems of joints in the body, and we reward it by smashing bench volume into it. Basically - your scap needs to move in many directions, and we just don't train it in many directions.
Most of us probably had some sort of quiet satisfaction when we were big enough not to be able to scratch our own back, but that lack of mobility is not helping you. It graduates into arm falling asleep when hand overhead, to eventual, can't touch bicep to ear, to tearing one of your rotator cuffs (spoken, sadly, from experience).
On a personal note, I tore two rotator cuffs last year - both sides. It was incredibly annoying, you can't sleep, its hard to train and it takes a very very long time to heal.
If I could go back, I would have spent some time fixing mobility. The time to fix things is minor compared to rehab a whole injury. My shoulders were incredibly tight, and when falling off a bicycle, I put my hands up, and due to a lack of mobility, and minor tears both sides.
To have healthy shoulders, you need
For mobility, there is one easy fix, and one weird one. Easy - hang off a bar. Just, hang, chill, and let it all loosen up. Try to get your head forward, between your shoulders. Use multiple hand widths and positions. Easy product plug, I actually used the same model we now are selling on the store.
The odd one, stick with us on this. Recommended by a physio - try to moisturise your back and shoulders. You will struggle, hard. Its kinda easy to force your arms around because everything is slippery. Laugh if you want, try it, and your shoulders feel so much better after. If that is not in your wheelhouse, just, wash your back properly in the shower.
You should also do doorway and pec stretches, but most of us already do that.
Stabilty and Strength can normally be trained together. In basics, we're trying to get the shoulder to move in all patterns - see below
Your first exercise is abduction - something we suck at because of the form of a PL bench. Just doing scap pushups - your life is likely to be better (I wish I did these after bench sessions)
- Scap push up - 3 sets of 15
- Scap pull up - 3 sets of 15
- Scap dip - 3 sets of 15
- Scap V press - 3 sets of 15
- Scap band retract - 3 sets of many
- Scap pull apart - 3 sets of many
Dip looks like this
V Press - like this
Chin like this
Band pull aparts
That the workout. If you are a 'normal' strength athlete, you've probably done a bunch of RC warm ups and that's about it. Your RC is so small - its super easy to overtrain, and we think most people know how to do internal and external rotations.
Give the above a go, and we'll write a second blog on how to increase mid-thoracic shortly.