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When pain strikes

Looking good naked makes you feel confident, sexy and wanted.

So, you decide to join a gym.

Walking home all excited, you hit it hard for three weeks straight. Dropping poundage and getting a nice defined line across your sweaty and bulging arms.

Then, it hits you.

You hit the floor rapidly with excruciating pain radiating down your whole arm into your fingertips.

You lose all hope. All motivation.

You are back exactly where you started; on the couch.

And so the story goes for many.

  • How many times have you had the thought of simply giving up on your goals, dreams and desires because of grief and discomfort?
  • How many times have the bench press and squat caused pain in your shoulders?
  • Does it hurt picking your kids up off the floor?

Well the likelihood is that you need the information in this article.

The Cause of discomfort

It becomes extremely hard to pin point the exact cause of the discomfort. The causes of shoulder pain are many, ranging from; impingement to rotator cuff tears and nerve problems, poor mobility in your upper back and lots more. This is way outside the scope of this article, but it is very important that you are aware of these potential causes, so you can go see a qualified therapist and get a proper diagnosis.

But, what we do tend to see is poor movement quality. Not being able to move with efficiency and correct technique tends to cause a lot of discomfort for many gym goers, especially when done over time with increased loads and volume.

Therefore, the first thing we have to do is help you create a good foundation upon which you can gradually lift more weight over time.

Creating The Foundation

In order to optimize your shoulder health we need to ensure adequate mobility and movement capacity in your upper back. We have to work on extension, rotation and flexion in this part of your body.

However, before you do this, there is one component a lot of people forget about in their shoulder health; breathing.

Being able to breathe using proper breathing mechanics is vital to optimize the stability of your mid-section, and how well the upper back can move because of the way you ribcage is positioned.

So, before you move onto the exercises below, ensure to spend a few minutes practicing either one of the options. Pick the former option if you are very extended (leaned back), and the latter option if you are very flexed (hunched forward).

Diaphragm Breathing With Lat Stretch

Prone Breathing (by Tony Gentilcore)

Then we move on to the mobility exercises. You should do these as:

  1. Part of your daily mobility and health regimen and
  2. First thing in your warm-up before you training session.

Do all of the exercises in the order laid out.

Laying down the bricks

Now that you are feeling a lot looser and have the potential for better movement, we need to create stability. We will use two exercises for this;

  1. The Forearm Wall Slide and
  2. Controlled Articular Rotations For Your Upper Body.

This provides the following solution to creating a good foundation:

  1. Perform daily mobility work
  2. Perform daily stability work in newfound ranges of motion.

Think Of Your Long-Term Health

Obviously, this will not build a lot of muscle. But, it will help, indirectly, in your chase of building buff and diamond shaped shoulders, as your long-term health and consistency will be of utmost importance for consistency.

Anyhow, moving onto the important stuff.

How To Build Buff Shoulders

The icing on the cake for a good physique is developing a set of boulder-shoulders. Nicely, they put the finishing touches on a well earned thick and v-shaped back.

Your shoulder joint, which is formed by the scapula and humerus, is surrounded by quite a complex set of muscles.

The rotator cuff, consisting of four different muscles, together with the deltoid muscles, trapezius muscles and other muscles such as the pectoralis muscles, form the shape of your shoulders.

 As a ‘group’ of muscles, this means that the biggest results will come from performing big compound movements such as the overhead press, dips, bench press variations and row variations. But, as you know we need to ‘specialize to maximize’. Exercise choices such as; shrug variations, upright rows, deltoid raises, front raises and push-ups are all great choices to further mould diamond-shoulders.

But, the problem is that this could cause grief for many. The amount of people not able to perform the overhead press(military press), dips and bench press, and other pressing variations without discomfort is astounding.

Ensure to use strict technique and full range of motion to get the most out of your training.

There Is A Solution To Your Problems

Since you struggle with the big compound movements, I have added a few exercises below that could substitute them.

Putting It All Together

Below you will find an example programme utilizing the information we’ve covered thus far. You will see under “exercises” the normal variation most people use. In the column to the right of this, you will see an option you can use instead if you struggle with the more common variation. I want you to pay close attention to day one and three respectively, as this is what this article is about. The tempo for each exercise should be ‘nice and controlled’.

I’ve added example days for legs, which is also considering your shoulder problems.

About the author

Kennet Waale is an educator, facilitator and co-founder of Prime Physique – an Online Nutrition and Training Consultation Organization. He also runs and operates a gym in Brisbane, Australia.

He earned his Bachelor’s degree in human movement studies as an exercise scientist at The University of Queensland. During his almost eight years of coaching, he has gone to work with athletes up to the Commonwealth and Olympic levels as well as ever day folks wanting to look better naked.

You can read more about his endeavours at or head over to Facebook


3 replies on “Joint Friendly Strength Training For Buff Shoulders – Guest Post by Kennet Waale”

Thanks for the great article. To me, by incorporating a dynamic warm-up that focuses on improving range of motion in shoulders and thoracic spine, You also help to reduce the risk of injury and improve your performance.

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