Want healthy shoulders? Get a deltoid pump extraordinaire without the pain.
We all know how complex the shoulder joint is, and how delicate it can be to train pain free. Low and behold you have a pre-existing condition or injury, it can lead to plenty of frustration in finding the perfect movement that combines access to comfort through the full range of motion, along with the ability to push the movement hard (the way you’d want to in a perfect world).
Sometimes we fall down the rabbit hole of simply looking for answers by way of what implements we use to achieve the above purpose. Kettlebells, bands and other implements may help the situation of gummy shoulders a bit, but often not all the way. It also creates a lower ceiling on how much you can load. If we think about things from a slightly different perspective though, and look at two key factors that can influence this all, we’ll note that manipulating them can cause the most bang for its buck.
Traction – Think of an exercise like a bench press or squat. The law of irradiation basically states that adding tension to muscles surrounding the muscle in question will improve the strength of that lift and stability of your body. A common cue in both of the above lifts is to squeeze on the bar to help produce this effect. As a by product the added tension can help with joint centration in the area in question. That’s going to come in handy.
Force Angles – It’s always important to analyze the fulcrum and resistance points of any movement, where possible. This is really easy to do with shoulder exercises since it’s a direct vertical press opposing gravity. In the case of a movement like a landmine press, it works so well for people due to the fact that the fulcrum is far away from the load, allowing the lifter to press on an angle and lean in with his body.
Combining these two factors makes for one bigtime movement that should be a game changer for your shoulder health.
Enter the Scrape-The-Rack Press
I prefer doing this exercise tall kneeling – partially due to the fact that I’ll hit the top of most racks due to my height – and partially because it keeps the movement more isolated. Applying pressure into the rack the way you’ll see in the video helps reduce the amount of stress forces the shoulder joint itself has to take on, and can help with centralizing the shoulder joint due to the constant tension. Now you’re pressing forward and upward at the same time – not just forward. That means more muscles get to share the load during this vertical press, creating less joint stress.
Also, you’ll note that I have the ability to lean in with my body, placing the head through the window I create with my arms overhead. This adjustment still mimics a vertically stacked position of the bar over the shoulder, which doubles as a good (and easier) way to get lifters with immobile shoulders into the right overhead position while holding load. This may not be in the cards for them with a strict standing barbell press.
Scrape-The-Rack Press: Coaching Cues
- Set up in a squat cage, with the pins around ribcage level. Place the loaded bar on the pins, and kneel in front of it, facing the uprights.
- Pick up the bar and position it at your shoulder press starting point (around collarbone level). Lean in until the bar makes full contact with the uprights.
- Drive the bar upward, maintaining contact with the uprights the entire time. Think about “sanding” the surface with the bar on both halves of the lift.
- Be sure to “fall in” at the top of each rep, by allowing the head and chest to travel through the window you create with your arms.
- Focus on higher rep sets. These are great as a finisher to a shoulder workout, or as their own workout. Take advantage of the constant tension, and aim for sets of 12-20 reps.