Welcome back to Squat University! Last week we started a conversation on scapular stability. The muscles that control the scapula help stabilize the barbell during an overhead squat or snatch movement in a strong and safe position.
Previously, we introduced the T & Y screen as a tool to expose possible weak links our scapular stability. Today I want to share with you two of my favorite corrective exercises to address overhead instability.
1) External Rotation Press
2) Kettle Bell Turkish Get-Ups
Focus on your posture while performing each movement. An exercise performed with poor posture (i.e. rounded shoulders) only reinforces the problem we’re trying to affect. If you want to see any lasting improvements in your overhead stability, you MUST use good posture!
External Rotation Press
When athletes struggle to keep the barbell overhead during a snatch or overhead squat, they often allow the bar to fall forward. In order to fix this problem we need to focus on activating the muscles that resist this forward collapse (the scapular stabilizers on the back of the shoulder).
Step 1: (Row) Grab a resistance band with your right hand. Pull the band towards you in a rowing motion. Your hand should finish directly in front of your elbow with your arm parallel to the ground. This engages the muscles that stabilize the shoulder blade.
Step 2: (External Rotation) From this position, rotate the shoulder backwards. Your hand should now be facing the ceiling with your elbow bent to 90 degrees like an “L”.
Step 3: (Press) Next, push your hand overhead and hold for 5 seconds. The muscles that stabilize the shoulder blade should be working hard to keep your arm from falling forward.
Step 4: Next reverse the pattern and return to the start position. Lower the arm to the “L” position. Rotate forward until your arm is parallel to the ground. Finally, press your arm forward to end the movement.
Here is a quick video from physical therapist Mike Reinold demonstrating the exercise.
Recommended Sets/Reps: 10 repetitions of 5-second holds in the overhead position for each arm.
Kettle Bell Turkish Get-Up
The get-up challenges the athlete to create scapular stability through a progression of movements. During each transition, every muscle that stabilizes the arm must work to keep the weight from falling forward.
Step 1: Start by lying on your back. Your left leg should be straight with your right knee bent. Hold a small weight with your right hand. Press the weight towards the ceiling.
Step 2: Next, rotate your body onto your left side, propping yourself onto your elbow. Try to keep your left foot from coming off the ground during this transition. To maintain this position, think about forcing your left heel through the wall in front of you as you rotate.
Keep the weight from falling forward! To help with this, imagine yourself balancing a glass of water with the hand that is holding the weight. If your arm falls forward, the water will spill from the glass.
Step 3: Push yourself upwards into a side plank. Pause during this transition and feel for the position of your scapula.
Step 4: Pull your left foot under your body and shift your weight onto your left knee. Pause again in this position for 3 seconds.
Step 6: Twist forward into a split kneeling position. Pause in this position for 3 seconds. Feel the muscles in the back of your shoulder working hard.
Step 7: Stand straight up, keeping your arm locked out above your head.
Step 8: To finish, reverse this same order of movements until you are lying again on the ground.
To progress this exercise you can a heavier kettle bell. You can also move to using a barbell for added difficulty.
Recommended Sets/Reps: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
My hope for this lecture is to give you a few tools to address your overhead stability problems. If you want to perform overhead barbell lifts with good technique and without pain, it is vital that you improve and maintain good scapular stability.
Until next time,