Supercharge your shoulders to lift heavier with a workout

Shoulders are one of the most common joints that prevent us from lifting heavier for any particular exercise. This is mostly due to the fact that the shoulder is the fastest joint in the body.

While the knee can move at speeds reaching 2000 degrees per second (dps), the shoulder literally flies at speeds of 5000 dps. This unique characteristic formulates the upper extremity to a difficult issue of producing force resistance while moving at the fastest speeds possible.

Training the shoulder to become stronger is often a three part problem. Most commonly the training focuses on the aspect of strength that doesn’t involve speed. The final issue becomes endurance training.

Choosing a training program that involves movement to literally train the shoulder to move quickly before the shoulder can become stronger is the key. Failure to do this often results with injury.

Movements that involve quick positional changes, such as power cleans are often the best protocol. Use lighter weights at first and master the speed of the exercise prior to the jumping up the poundage.

This is true of any younger athlete who is learning any sport and their eagerness to “add mass” is often mixed with early failure and later injury. The common issue is seeing others perform with heavier weight, but their pathway often is lined with the doom of wear and tear.

Endurance is a key to providing an ability to promote circulation that enhances recovery. Great training programs will focus on competitive challenges to increase their overall ability to produce effort in multiple exercises in a given time duration.

Crossfit-type protocols are excellent for the early fitness enthusiast. Provide multiple lifts that have lower weight and higher repetition outcomes.

To accomplish this, focus on a shoulder/chest/back routine that involves multiple exercises and then challenge the body by increasing the number of reps in the same amount of time.

An example is the following program that is simple, yet focuses on the issues we have discussed. Pick a weight that allows a completion of all movements.

Exercise Sets Reps Total time (min:sec)
Power cleans 4 30-30-40-50 5:30
Military press 4 30-30-50-60 5:00
Lateral raises 4 20-30-40-50  4:30
Windmills 4 20-30-40-50 4:00

Total time = 19:00

Time the entire group of exercises and then proceed to lower the overall time as the main challenge for the participant. Once you have obtained a time that is 30-50% faster than the original time, begin to add weight to each exercise.

Mix in the shoulder elements with other exercises to improve on all movements. Use Push-ups or Bench press, bent-over rows, dead-lifts, power cleans, front-raises to mix up a great over all training program.

Windmills are performed, starting with one arm up and the other arm down, elbows straight. As one arm is lowered forward, the opposite arm is raised to the back so it is directly opposite of the movements of the other arm. This produces a windmill look when performed correctly.

About the Author
DrDavidRyanDr. David Ryan has an extensive background in both coaching and playing professional sports, and has been the team physician for several highly ranked teams. Dr. Ryan now serves as the current Co-Chairman of the Arnold Sports Festival ( and is a former Medical Director of this internationally acclaimed event.

Dr. Ryans numerous articles have been published in International Medical Journals, Muscle & Fitness Magazine as well as on the popular website. Visit Dr. Ryans home page on here: and his YouTube page here.