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3 Weighted Shoulder Exercises every Calisthenics Athlete should do!

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If you would have asked me a few years ago, I wouldn’t waste much thought on you saying, that there are weighted exercises useful for calisthenics athletes.
How can side raises, bodybuilders do, be actually great for your shoulder health?


But fortunately, everyone learns. And as it is with many other things, too, extremism is seldom the truthful path.


In this post were going to look at the shoulder joint and I am going to show you three weighted shoulder exercises, for healthy shoulders, which keep them strong and well balanced.

Why tf use Weights as a Bodyweight Athlete?

Nowadays, I am a strong believer that you can learn something from everything. Or anyone.
That may be from another sport, profession or person.

Weights can be great because they are easy to scale and it is simpler to progress that way:

  • Moving 5kg more weight a day for the same repetitions and quality is a clear sign of improvement.
  • Measuring if you are getting stronger while doing planche leans can be way trickier.



My point is that black-and-white thinking is most of the time not the way to go. Take the best out of every sport and fit it into your very own practice.

The three exercises I am going to show are great in another way, too:
Simply because there is no such bodyweight movement that could do the job better.1 And I think you should be training every movement your body is capable of. At least from time to time.




Infographic about why weights are good for you as an calisthenics athlete







3 Weighted Shoulder Exercises for well-balanced, healthy Shoulders

Standing Lateral Raises

There is simply no calisthenics exercise that resembles this movement. Maybe crosses on rings. But that’s a whole nother story…

Besides obviously hitting your delts, side raises also strengthen the supraspinatus well. This dude’s job is the partly abduction of your arm2 and that’s exactly what you are training with that exercise.

Strong lateral raises with good form = strong and happy supraspinatus 🙂

It’s easy as that – grab some weights* and smash out the repetitions! Just watch out to keep your arms in external rotation while doing this exercise. Jeff Cavaliere demonstrates that nicely in this video.





Pulley Facepulls to Overhead Press

This one is a great exercise for so many things!
It strengthens your whole shoulder girdle and supports a stable overhead position. It also teaches your brain how it should activate your muscles.

I don’t think there are many more ‘bang for your buck’-exercises in terms of healthy shoulders than facepulls.

Plus, pulleys are awesome. They provide a force pulling forward or backward, no resistance band* can ever resemble. But, if you haven’t got access to a gym the band will get the job done, too!

As previous – if you want to see how this exercise is performed the right way – Jeff Cavaliere3 shows you how to do it!

Just make sure to add an overhead press right after the facepull. This will upgrade this movement even more!





Lying Lateral Raises

This exercise works on your scapular retraction, but in a way, most calisthenics exercises can’t do.

Most of the time, you work on your retraction while rowing or front levering. 4 The lying lateral raise does this, through pulling your arms sideways.

This movement pattern is not found in calisthenics, too. Maybe if you are coming down from a planche into a back lever on rings*. But let’s stay real here guys…


The prone reverse flys, or whatever name you choose to give them, should look like in this video demonstrated by Marcus Philly.

Three weighted shoulder exercises for your calisthenics training

How to fit these Shoulder Exercises into your Schedule


I hate it when people just throw exercises around them, without telling how to use them properly. So this is my attempt to be better at that particular point.

As a general rule of thumb, I would recommend everyone to work on their shoulder health 1-2 times a week.
The shoulder joint is complex and relies on strong muscles to function properly. Unfortunately, this stands in stark contrast to our modern hunchback desk warrior lifestyle. That’s why shoulder health nowadays seems to be a common issue.

Therefore – invest some time on it. It hasn’t got to be longspun:
I always do 3 exercises, right after my regular workout, two times a week. One-time time pre-fatigued after an upper-body session and one-time fresh after a leg session.

One session could look like this:

  1. Pulley Facepulls to Overhead Press 3×10-12r
  2. Overhead KB Carries 3x25m per side
  3. Lying Lateral Raises



Or like this:

  1. Standing Side Lateral Raises 3×10-12r
  2. Prone End Range ER Work 3x4rx10s hold + 6-8 lifts
  3. Pulley Facepulls to Overhead Press 3×10-12r







With these three weighted shoulder exercises, you won’t do anything wrong, especially if you’re mainly doing calisthenics. But you can also work on your weak links specifically, too.
That’s up to you!


Anyways, I hope you got something out of this post. Besides the obvious three exercises, my underlying main point to take home would be to get rid of binary thinking.



Read you soon and thanks for being around!,

THis is my Signature.

Further Reading and Sources

  • I really like this short article by teachmeanatomy as a first dip into the complex anatomy and functions of the shoulder joint. Great for a first overview of what your shoulder is actually capable of.
  • Besides my 3 weighted shoulder exercises, especially as a calisthenics athlete, you should also do some kind of hanging*.
    If you are a calisthenics athlete there is the high chance that you already hang very much. But if not – that is something worth thinking about, too.
    I can recommend this post by Ido Portal about the topic of hanging down from something.

Footnotes

  1. Or the appropriate bodyweight movement to that weighted exercise is superhumanly complex. Take Lateral Dumbbell Raises for example. It is a movement pulling your arms into abduction – and maybe even overhead. The corresponding bodyweight alternative would be something like an inverted iron cross. And I don’t think that you or I will do that anytime in our life…
  2. …to about 15° and a slight bit of External rotation, too. Wikipedia has some nice GIF’s to visualize that.
  3. Facepulls seem to be his signature exercise…
  4. Can you turn the noun Front Lever into a verb? Yeah, *** yes, ich can!
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