Much like the importance of core strength, shoulder strength will largely define your ability to perform certain calisthenics complexities. Without it, your level of mastery will diminish.
Whether you're a beginner or an expert, the shoulder musculature must not be ignored, as it plays a crucial role in calisthenics performance.
In this article, we'll be reviewing a compiled list of calisthenics shoulder exercises that you can implement into your regimen today to help develop stronger shoulders and essentially become more adept at the calisthenics world.
While these exercises can be manipulated and adapted to any skill level, they remain effective for all skill levels.
But first, the warm-up.
The Warm-Up Before Calisthenics Shoulder Workout
The warm-up is arguably an essential part of any workout regimen, calisthenics or not. Without a proper warm-up, your body will be more prone to injury and less likely to perform at its best.
For a shoulder-specific warm-up, here's a templated program you can implement today that will begin your journey towards a healthier, more agile YOU.
1. Straight-Arm Circles
One of the more popular warm-ups to encourage basic mobility of the shoulder girdle is arm circles. They are easily performed and highly effective.
Focus on moving through the shoulder in varying degrees of motion. In other words, begin with a small circle, and work your way to a large circle. Even put it in reverse to hit it at all angles and motions.
Execute 10-15 rotations, both forward and backward.
2. Overhead Shoulder Rotations
Much like the arm circles, you're going to want to keep your arms straight throughout this warm-up.
To execute this warm-up, think of carrying a lasso and circling it around your head.
Simply repeat this motion in both directions, with both arms separately 10-15 times through.
3. Shoulder Corkscrews
The corkscrew is a widely misunderstood warm-up, as you don't particularly see many individuals use it.
The idea behind this warm-up is to move through it smoothly because if you tighten up too much, your shoulder will experience fatigue.
Again, execute 10-15 rotations on each side.
4. Chest Hugs
Who would have thought hugging yourself would be such an excellent warm-up?!
This movement will not only help you warm up the shoulders but will also enable the opening up of your chest—a great all-around warm-up.
Give yourselves as many hugs as you please until you feel warmed up enough.
5. Overhead Pass Throughs (with Resistance Band)
Taking a lightweight resistance band, grab each end wide and with straight arms. You will begin the movement with the resistance band out in front of your waist. Once you're ready to engage, start to bring the resistance band over your head and back behind your body. Repeat by then bringing the resistance band back to the front starting position.
Execute this back and forth 10-15 times. A great shoulder and chest opener.
Other shoulder warm-ups that you can look into are as follows: Wall slides, Rolling Shoulder Circles, “Y T W L” Complex, and Cross Body Shoulder Swings…
In short, the shoulder is a complex, multi-jointed region of the body that needs proper attention when it comes to the shoulder's health. Practicing these mobility exercises daily and before every workout will provide you with the foundation to reduce injury, improve shoulder health, and ultimately increase shoulder strength over time.
It doesn't take long, so don't ignore it!
Calisthenics Shoulder Exercises
As you know, calisthenics varies in complexity. If you're a beginner, you may start with a basic introductory movement, while if you're an advanced athlete, you'll likely perform quite the impressive variation of a particular movement.
Well, in this article, we'll be analyzing a few of the most popular calisthenics shoulder exercises and the corresponding variations of each.
The way that it will work is we will begin with the most advanced variation of the movement. Once described, we will then go down the line of ways to adapt and scale the advanced variant.
Let's jump into it!
1. Ring Handstand Push-Up
Ring Handstand Push-ups are challenging and require an extreme amount of balance, stability, and focus. For starters, you need to know how to get up on the rings into a handstand position in the first place!
The Ring Handstand Pushup would be considered the most advanced variant of the Handstand Pushup.
Second in line to the ring handstand push-up would be a handstand push-up, freestanding. Some may argue that this is more difficult than performing them on the rings!
The third is the most common, which is the wall handstand push-up. This is primarily used in workouts from CrossFit!
Lastly, if you're a beginner trying to work your way up to your first true handstand push-up, you're going to want to start with a Pike Pushup. Simply grab a box or a bench, put your feet upon it, and walk your hands into a piked push-up position.
2. Forward Leaning, Levitated Push Up
As you can imagine, regular push-ups are hard enough for many. Leave it to calisthenics to find a way to make it harder!
To perform a forward-leaning, levitated push-up, you first need a solid core. How else are you going to levitate your feet off of the floor?!
Next, you simply lean forward in the push-up position, twist your hands outward, and engage in a push-up. This not only creates an extra level of difficulty but also targets the shoulder more so than the chest.
From here, you can perform a forward-leaning push-up without the levitation aspect. In other words, keep your feet on the ground with this one.
Next would be the most popular; the regular push-up. Not much to be said about this one.
Lastly, if you're a true beginner, you will want to begin with knee push-ups. Don't feel discouraged if you're starting at this step. Everyone starts somewhere. Soon enough, you'll be doing handstand push-ups with ease!
3. Wall Walks
Wall walks can be extremely fatiguing and are arguably the most cardiovascular of the four exercises discussed in this article.
A wall walk is pretty self-explanatory. Beginning in a push-up position with your feet closest to the wall, start walking your feet up the wall while simultaneously walking your hands back towards the wall.
The finishing position would be fully parallel to the wall. You then walk your body back to its starting position. This would be one wall walk!
The next variation to a wall walk would be a simple handstand hold.
Lastly, If you're a true beginner, it's recommended to stay away from the wall and begin with inchworms.
Check out the video below on how to perform an inchworm:
4. Face Pulls
Face pulls don't really have a level system of difficulty. In other words, a face pull is simply a face pull, whether you're a beginner or an advanced calisthenics athlete.
Nonetheless, a face pull provides an effective stimulus to the shoulder. Not only does it increase strength potential, but it also improves flexibility and mobility, keeping your shoulder healthy throughout the workout.
A face pull can be accomplished with several different pieces of equipment. Whether you use a TRX training system, Rings, Resistance Bands, OR a rope, the result remains the same.
Calisthenics Shoulder Workout Summary
The importance of the shoulder musculature when it comes to calisthenics is unquestionable. Without it, you'll become stagnant with your progress towards mastery.
However, through commitment, dedication, consistency, and proper programming, you'll be well on your way to achieving boulder shoulders! Note that not all workouts or weeks of programming need to be the same.
A study on HFT and LFT and their effect on performance and lean muscle mass concluded that both HFT and LFT produce similar improvements in both areas.
*HFT = High-Frequency Training
*LFT = Low-Frequency Training
And don't forget to warm up.
As mentioned in this article, while the warm-up is often ignored, it's arguably the most important part of any exercise regimen.
Remember, to achieve mastery, you must be in it for the long haul.
To be in it for the long haul, you MUST warm up, cool down, execute the proper form, and take care of your body.
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