Bulletproof Your Shoulders: Part 2

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Bulletproof your shoulders: Part 2Now that you read part 1 and the prologue to TSC swimmers guide to bulletproofing your shoulders here is part two of the workout program. Why so many parts?

The reason I broke this up into 3 installments (the last one is coming next week) is because as your season changes your strength routine should change too in order to complement what your primary focus is (i.e. swimming).

Last week was the intro phase which is good for the off-season months when your A race is many more months away, your training is low relative to the peak months, and you are ready to lay a foundation for stronger shoulders and more swim volume. This stage would also be a perfect to compliment a program like the “Fit Triathlete” or the early weeks of the Triathlon Swim program

But what if you are in the middle of a season (like now)? Fear not and read on…..

You still need that intro stage even if, I should say especially if, you are approaching a key race. You definitely do not want to jump into stage 2 and 3 thinking, “Oh, I know my way in the weight room. I used to play football/rugby/soccer/baseball (or insert other popular, team sport) back in high school. That stuff is way too easy….pass me the 25 dumbbells so that I can bang out some lateral raises”.


Chances are your shoulders are pinched, immobile and fragile and your form in the pool and your lack of a high elbow catch is not helping.

You NEED to wake up the different  parts of your shoulder which are most likely neglected and tight from being in the TT position on the bike, not placing your hand properly when swimming, and typing too much on a keyboard.  SO do NOT skip to part 2 until you have laid a good foundation of mobility and a bit of strength.

Now onto Part II:

The goals of part two is to build upon the mobility movements we started in part I and add on different movements for strength. Here are my top three exercises:

  1. Forward and Lateral raises: Stand just narrower than shoulder width apart with two light dumbbells. Raise them straight forward, palms facing down, with a slight bend in your arms until they are shoulder height, pause, now move them to the side keeping the weight at the same height, so that your body now forms a T, then lower your arms to your side. Repeat
  2. Resistance Band Ls: Anchor a resistance band just lower than shoulder height and step back so that you have some good resistance but some movement can be made. Hold one handle in each hand, palms facing down. Your arms should form an L that is parallel to the ground with your elbows in line with your shoulder and your wrists in line with your elbows. Rotate your hand up, keeping your elbow and arm in the same place so now that it forms an L that is perpendicular to the ground. Rotate back and repeat.
  3. Straight arm Lat pulldowns: Standing in front of a lat pulldown bar, place your hands on the bar and keeping your arms straight push down. Pause when the bar hits your hips and return.
  4. Continue to hang: While this was in the first phase, this is an exercise you can do year round (and should!)

This phase is best for the build and race phases of your training. Since you always want to be progressing, change the resistance, number of reps or weight every week or so. During race phase decrease the weight and increase the reps. Then after your key races return to phase 1 but this time with some light dumbbells or more resistance on the bands.

You are well on your way to bulletproof shoulders!