The Crucifix rollout
There are many good bodyweight shoulder exercises for muscular endurance, strength and muscle building and as always it is important to choose the right ones for the goals you have set. For example, a gymnast who needs incredible shoulder strength for the Iron Cross would do very different shoulder exercises to a boxer who wants the muscular endurance needed to keep his guard up for 12 rounds. So before you plan your routine have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and then pick the shoulder exercises that best fit your aim.
For muscular endurance
You need to choose the shoulder exercises that will enable you to do at least 16 reps and maybe considerably more depending on what your aim is. Some of the best exercises for achieving this are
The Hindu push up, once you have mastered the technique for this exercise its hypnotic rhythm enables you to build up
an almost super human level of muscular endurance and it has the added benefit of working many other upper body muscles as well as providing the spine with a gentle stretch.
The standard press up, although the chest and triceps play a big role in this exercise the front deltoids also get a great work out and it is a great shoulder exercise for increasing muscular endurance as many boxers will testify. Another benefit of the standard press up is
the core muscles act as stabilizers so it is also great for the abs.
To build real bodyweight strength you need to keep the reps within the 1-6 range and for this you need shoulder exercises that are far more difficult than standard and Hindu push ups. As always your present strength level will dictate the shoulder exercises that you should include in your program but the best ones I have found are
The crucifix press up, when done correctly this is an incredibly difficult exercise which means
very few people can do more than the maximum of 6 reps that strength training dictates.
This is also one of the best bodyweight exercises for isolating the shoulder muscles and really works them hard but do not include it in your program until you have built up a reasonable level of strength with easier shoulder exercises.
The Lalanne push up, created by the Legendary fitness instructor Jack Lalanne in the 50s this is one of the best shoulder exercises for both shoulder and core strength. If you can do more than the maximum of 6 reps for strength (very few people can) you can easily include a 2 second static hold with each rep to make it even more difficult.
For muscle building
To build muscle you need to keep the reps of each set within the 6-10 range and that applies equally whether you do weight training or bodyweight exercises. Again the trick with bodyweight exercises is to only include exercises that are demanding enough to limit the reps to the number required.
For example, if you do standard press ups and hope to build good shoulders you are more than likely going to be disappointed as you will find you can soon do 30-50 or even a hundred reps of this exercise and such high reps cannot build muscle. However, if you include shoulder exercises such as handstand press ups you are back in business and I am still waiting to see the guy who can do a 100 of these babies. The best bodyweight shoulder exercises I Have found are
The handstand press up do not worry about balance or gymnastic ability here because you do your handstand push ups against a wall. This eliminates any need to worry too much about balance and coordination but make sure you place some protection such as a cushion below your head just in case you should slip. Once you can do the 6-10 reps required for muscle building you can increase the difficulty by using blocks to increase the range of movement and eventually progress to one arm handstands if you wish.
The crucifix rollout, this is very similar to the chest rollout except you keep your arms straight throughout the movement which takes the emphasis of the pecs.
This is a great muscle and strength builder for the shoulders but be warned it is difficult to execute and you need to have developed a good level of strength with easier exercises and mastered the chest rollout before you include it in your program.
Anyone who has ever suffered a shoulder injury will know what I mean when I say there is not much you can do with your body that doesn’t involve using your shoulders. Once this muscle is injured not only do you have to stop doing shoulder exercises but you are also prevented from training most of your other muscles as well. In fact training your legs is probably all you will get away with because everything from press ups to pull ups involves you shoulders to some degree.
So as you can see preventing shoulder injuries through proper training is one of the most important things you can do in your training program.
The problem with heavy weight training
Visit any gym were guys regularly do shoulder exercises with heavy weights and it can resemble a battle zone with many walking wounded seeking help and advice on their latest shoulder injury.
The reason for this is although the shoulder joint is very versatile it is also very fragile. Unless the proper precautions are taken lifting massive amounts of weight in positions were the shoulder joint is at its weakest will sooner or later result in a shoulder injury for many people. Not only does this affect your life and training drastically but it also takes a very long time to repair itself.
Precaution is better than cure.
The best way to cure shoulder injuries is to stop them happening in the first place and there are a number of things you can do.
1 Always warm up properly. You should always spend about 10 minutes doing gentle cardio such as slow jogging or shadow boxing and then a couple of minutes rotating the arms in all directions before you begin your session.
2 Be selective in your choice of shoulder exercises. If you use weights only lift loads that are comfortable and enable you do the exercise correctly and avoid the press behind the neck at all costs. If you use bodyweight exercises you still need to ensure that you are strong enough to do the exercises correctly for the number of reps required and if not choose easier ones.
3 Increase the flexibility of your shoulder joints. Not only does a greater range of movement reduce the risk of injury but it also improves the circulation of blood to the muscle.
Also remember that despite what many people think you do not stretch at the beginning of the training session but at the end. So always finish your shoulder workout with 5 minutes of stretching to increase your shoulder flexibility.
You can use bodyweight shoulder exercises to increase your muscular endurance, strength and muscle size. The trick is to ensure you keep the number of reps in the range required for the task by choosing the right exercises for your strength and fitness level at that time. Rep ranges are specific which means you cannot build strength and muscle with high reps or muscular endurance with low reps.
To prevent shoulder injuries always warm up properly, select the exercises that you are capable of doing correctly and increase your shoulder flexibility.
Why a healthy eating plan is the key to great abdominal definition
How to follow the right diet to reach your strength potential
The secret of building muscle
Build amazing shoulder strength with the crucifix press up
Impress your friends with the Lalanne push up
See the guide to the awesome crucifix rollout
The bodyweight lateral rollout the king of deltoid exercises
See our muscle building guide to compliment your shoulder exercises
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