Total Gym Exercises for Increased Shoulder Mobility and Strength



Shoulder Injury? How Total Gym Can Help

Shoulder injuries are common results of mistakes in your workout.

Since shoulder injuries are one of the most common orthopedic complaints, we wanted to provide you with some tips for preventing them and getting your strength back post-injury. Common shoulder injuries include strains/sprains and tendonitis/tears and can arise from too much mobility (instability), too little mobility (hypomobility), or decreased strength and stabilization. Rehab or post rehab programs focus on restoring pain-free range of motion, enhancing awareness of how you move and how to correctly move, as well as strengthening and stabilizing the surrounding muscles. Since the shoulder muscles influence the stabilization to your back, neck and core, a total body approach is recommended. The Total Gym is the perfect tool for to address all of these aspects of shoulder health.

Any rehabilitation program should be cleared by your medical doctor or with a licensed practitioner/physical therapist prior to beginning. Consider the recommendations below as ones which can be used in conjunction with your therapist/doctor’s recommendations.

It is recommended to warm up the shoulders with range of motion exercises, but for those with shoulder injuries this may be more difficult. Next, you should incorporate awareness exercises to prevent compensation patterns. From there, you can add more simple movement patterns and work your way into more complex and compound exercises as you strengthen/heal. Depending on your shoulder health, your routine can be just awareness and phase one strengthening exercises, or you can do a set of awareness or simple strength exercises to prep the shoulder for a more dynamic strength based workout.
Below I’ve provided guidelines for intensity, time under tension, reps completed within the time, sets and tempo.

Guidelines for Shoulder Strengthening on the Total Gym

Warm Up

  • Intensity 60-75%
  • Time under tension 1-2 minutes per exercise
  • Reps 15-20
  • Sets 1-2
  • Tempo slow to moderate pace

Awareness

  • Intensity 50-60%
  • Time under tension 30-60 seconds, stop if form is compromised
  • Reps 15-20
  • Sets 1-3
  • Tempo slow to moderate

Strengthening Phase 1

  • Intensity 65-80%
  • Time under tension 45-60 seconds
  • Reps 8-12 for strengthening 15-20 for endurance
  • Sets 1-2 sets for strengthening 1-2 sets for endurance
  • Tempo strengthening slow to moderate endurance moderate to fast

Cool Down

Exercises for Shoulder Strengthening on the Total Gym

Warm up: Increasing Range of Motion (ROM)

  • Cardio Pull: Arm Circles
  • Cardio Pull: Alternating Straight Arm Pullovers
  • Cardio Pull: Arm Circles

Exercises can be done with bilateral squats, moving to alternating to one-legged squats, and then incorporating plyometrics.

Awareness of Shoulder Mechanics

These exercises will improve your understanding of how you move, as well as restore more ideal movement patterns. Often times the shoulder blades sit higher toward your ears than they should, and this can place increased stress to the shoulder and neck muscles. The below exercises are isolating various ways the shoulder blades move, prepping the body for ideal strengthening. Training tips are provided with each movement, and reinforced and further explained in the video sections.

Scapular Depression: On your belly, shoulder blade downward movement with LAT bars/pulleys

Tips:
1. Lay your belly, reaching overhead toward the tower, then draw the shoulder blades down toward the buttocks.
2. Movement is small.
3. Focus on lengthening the shoulders away from the ears.
4. Avoid squeezing the shoulder blades together.
5. If reaching the hands for the LAT bars or using the arm pulleys puts too great of a strain on the shoulder, then the hands can rest on the rails.

Scapular Protraction: Punches: Seated facing away from the tower, pulling shoulder blades apart with pulleys

Seated facing away from the tower with the handles in each hand, flex the arms to shoulder level with elbows extended. Focus on separating the shoulder blades apart from one another as you press the arm forward.

Tips:
1. Movement is small.
2. Keep width through your chest by focusing on widening thought the collar bones.
3. Keep the elbows straight, and avoid hyperextension.

Scapular Retraction: Seated facing tower: pulling shoulder blades toward one another with pulleys

Seated facing the tower with a handle in each hand, flex the arms to shoulder level with elbows extended. Focus on drawing the shoulder blades gently together.

Tips:
1. The motion is gliding versus squeezing the shoulder blades together.
2. Lengthen the shoulders away from the ears prior to the movement.
3. Keep energy in the arms and shoulder blades down the back. Visualize pressing the arms down on imaginary countertops.
4. Keep the elbows straight, and avoid hyperextension.

Strengthening Phase 1

As your awareness improves and the shoulder muscles become stronger, re-education of movement is incorporated first with simple shoulder movements. With all exercises, the core should remain strong, and the shoulder blades glide down and together prior to movement (think of lengthening the shoulders away from the ears).

Low Row

Start seated facing the tower with a handle in each hand, elbows bent to 90 degrees. Pull the handles back bringing the hands toward the torso.

Tips:
1. Start with the collarbones spreading apart from one another.
2. Thinking of gliding rather than squeezing the shoulder blades together.
3. Avoid sticking the lower ribs forward as a compensation for lack of range of motion at the arms.

Low Chest Press

Start seated facing away from the tower with a handle in each hand, elbows bent to 90 degrees. Push the hands forward bringing the arms to shoulder level.

Tips:
1. Keep width through the chest.
2. Keep the body steady. Be careful not to lean forward as compensation.

Elbow Bent: Shoulder Adduction (Rocking Baby)

Sit facing perpendicular to the tower with the hand closest to the tower holding the handle. Keeping the elbows bent to 90 degrees, focus on bringing the arm across the front of the body. Think of the movement like rocking a baby.

Tips:
1. Lengthen the shoulders away from the ears.
2. The movement can be small to start and gradually increase in range of motion.

Elbow Bent: Shoulder Abduction (Rocking Baby)

Start by sitting perpendicularly to the tower with the hand closest to the base holding the handle. Keeping the elbows bent to 90 degree, focus on bringing the arm across the front of the body. Think of the movement like rocking a baby.

Tips.
1. Keep the shoulders lengthening away from the ears.
2. The movement can be small to start and gradually increase in range of motion.

Seated Shoulder External Rotation

Seated perpendicular to the tower with the hand closest to the base holding the handle, keeping the elbows bent to 90 degrees and the shoulder blades held down and together, bring the forearm out to the side and then back to the starting position.

Tips:
1. Keep the shoulder blades down and together.
2. Be careful not to compensate by rotating the trunk.
3. Progress by moving the elbow away from the sides of the body.

Seated Shoulder Internal Rotation

Start seated perpendicular to the tower with the hand closest to the tower holding the handle, Keep the elbows bent to 90 degree and the shoulder blades held down and together, and bring the forearm across the body.

Tips:
1. Keep the shoulder blades down and together.
2. Careful not to compensate by rotating the trunk.
3. Progress by moving the elbow away from the sides of the body.

Stay tuned for how to progress the focus of your shoulder routine from prevention to performance

Elizabeth Leeds, DPT

Elizabeth Leeds, owner of Seaside Fitness and Wellness, combines her background in physical therapy, personal training, and Pilates in her practice and teaching. As a pelvic floor physical therapist working at Comprehensive Therapy Services in San Diego, her passion for pregnancy and postpartum is seen in her mission to empower women with knowledge and understanding of their physical changes, and how to address them to prevent future issues.Additionally, Elizabeth is a Master Trainer and developer for Total Gym’s GRAVITY education.

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