How To Fuck Up (and then unfuck up) Your Shoulders

My shoulders got a little pingey because I was late to the advice of never doing upright rows.

By the way, never do upright rows. It’s a standing exercise where you raise an implement – barbell, kettlebell, or dumbells – from your waist to your chin raising your elbows above your shoulders. Don’t do that.


It causes shoulder impingement which means your rotator cuff is rubbing against part of your scapula called the acromion. Giving you pain in certain ranges of motion.

In a way I was fortunate to get it because it allowed me to feel acutely when my form for swimming the front crawl was off.

I saw Crossfitter, and great Canadian, Brent Fikowski doing upright rows on Instagram the other day but he wasn’t lifting his elbows above his shoulders so I guess that’s okay but either way I don’t see any actual benefit to the upright row. Any pull up or overhead press will hit the same muscles better and safer as far as I can see.

Pull ups are really the best thing for training shoulder health. Get in a dead hang, totally slack, then in order to move at all you have to screw your scapula down and back. You don’t even have to do full pull ups, just practice that first motion.

We don’t all have pull bars – though we should – so you can do the same thing laying on your back. Grab anything like a broomstick, lay on your back like you’re going to bench press, and practice pushing your shoulders down and back. Another way to cue it is to think Hero Chest. Pushing your shoulders back will cause your chest to feel like you’re superman showing off the S.

Luckily when I had some shoulder impingement I found Trevor from Smashwerkx. This guy can rehab anything and has the amazing ability to never stop talking for even one breath.



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