If you’re fortunate enough to live in a coastal city that’s warm year-round, then you’ve likely been out in a kayayak or paddling a SUP or traditional surfboard.For those of us that live in areas where lakes and rivers freeze, however, we’ve been unable to get out on the water at all these last few frustrating months. But while some ski resorts are still getting decent snowfall, hope is here for watermen and women in the form of melting ice and snow.
This means that sooner rather than later, you’re going to be doing a lot of pulling (paddling). And indeed, maybe you’ve spent a lot of your offseason on a rowing machine and doing pull-ups and other pulling exercises to ready yourself for that blessed day when you can get your hands back on real oars or paddles or are able to get out for a surf on a river wave. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this as you obviously need power and endurance in the pulling position. But it’s only one of the ways to express the press position that’s one of the three fundamental shapes of the human shoulder (along with the hang and overhead shapes). To get the most from this archetype, you need to do something few water athletes do and add in some more pressing. Here are a couple of basic but effective exercises to balance out all that pulling:
Well, duh. This is a classic upper body exercise for good reason. The pushup not only offers the opportunity to test the integrity of your press shape and build shoulder stability, but can also strengthen your core musculature as well. To do a solid pushup:
—Lie facedown on the floor
—Align your hands with the middle of your ribcage and screw your hands into the floor (left hand counterclockwise, right hand clockwise), with fingers splayed
—Put your feet together and squeeze your butt to align your lumbar spine and pelvis
—As you push away from the ground, keep your elbows tucked into the sides of your ribs, and maintain the torsion created by screwing your hands into the ground
—Also keep your abs and butt tight to keep your body flat like a surfboard
—After extending your arms, slowly lower yourself back to the starting position, keeping your core muscles engaged, hands screwed in and elbows tucked
—Complete 10 to 20 reps
—You can increase the challenge by doing pushups on gymnastic rings or the TRX Duo Trainer. To do so, start with a neutral grip in the rings, and then start and end the movement with the rings turned out (right hand clockwise, left hand counterclockwise) by 10 to 15 degrees to protect your shoulders
Ring or TRX Dip
If you don’t have shoulder pain and have sufficient internal rotation (test this by putting your arm behind your back like you’re being arrested – if you have no pinching, you’re probably good and if not, go to YouTube and search for “Kelly Starrett shoulder” for mobility fixes) then doing dips on rings or a TRX Duo Trainer is another way to get your press on. To do this exercise:
—Position the ring straps just wider than shoulder width apart
—Stand between the rings and grab them with a neutral grip
—Use a little jump to propel yourself upward and extend your arms so they’re straight
—Turn your left hand counterclockwise and right hand clockwise to lock your shoulder into place through external rotation
—Straighten your legs and hold them out a couple of inches in front of you with your toes pointed
—Slowly lower yourself down until your upper arms are parallel to the floor
—Keeping your abs tight and gaze straight ahead, push yourself back up to the start position, slowly rotating the rings outward as you go up
—Complete 10 reps