The shoulders are often a body part that many people have trouble developing and even focusing on. They are the body part that sets the tone for a great set of arms’. I often see that there isn’t enough variation in the training programs being used in gyms today.


What happens when you add weak shoulders, tight pecs and shitty posture?
Nothing! You get nowhere!


Looking at this from a sporting point of view, the major sports I’ve worked with where I needed to work on some strong upper limb training have included both basketball (NBL) and football (the Aussie kind!). Both of these sports (and the athletes that came to me) had some major shoulder injuries lingering of which needed to be addressed before we went any further. I will give you a snap shot of how we worked these athletes back to championship winning performances.







Adding to their training was easy after that because we had covered all the foundational movements and systems before progressing onto the harder stuff. Not getting the foundation down early would of not only resulted in less gains during the preseason and in-season but we would also be flirting with those old injuries again.


Any time I have a client or athlete walk into my gym and when the shoulder training day comes up, these are all the things that I take into consideration when programming their shoulder series. Note: When you write a training program, always write it with the intention of making the person you’re writing it for better. I couldn’t care less if they don’t love it to death but they need to be aware that it’s a phase in a long stretch of phases that’ll make them a whole lot stronger and aid in promoting more muscle mass.


If the Rotator Cuff is weak, you’ll get nowhere!


One of the best tricks I learned from one of my early mentors, Charles Poliquin, was that if your Rotator Cuff (RC) isn’t strong then you’ll be hitting plateaus early and seeing very little progress from then on. Your RC is a group of 4 muscles (Teres Minor, Infraspinatus, Suprspinatus and Subscapularis) that are essentially decelerating muscles. If you throw a ball as fast as you can and your RC doesn’t slow the movement down at the very end, then you’ll be leaving with a dislocated shoulder!

Being a decelerating set of muscles, that also implies that there is some sense of stability being applied to the Glenohumeral joint. To get strength to increase you must also set aside time to increase stability too. The easiest thing to do is add external rotations to you training program using either a dumbbell or a cable.


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Seated dumbbell external rotations are one of the best ways to start getting your RC working again. Even some advanced trainees/trainers can get a benefit from this in their programming.


What you see in the mirror is often the muscle that needs the least work.


When you see people training in the gym though you will often see them train what they can see in the mirror.  Sure, in a bodybuilding context,  you want to see what muscles are being worked and this often leads to some of the muscles being neglected and those muscles are often the ones you can see directly in the mirror.
There is no need to constantly be doing front Deltoid raises in the mirror if your back is as flat as my dinner table. It’s time to change it up and add some fresh ingredients to your training program. Some great additions would be the following;


(Behind The Neck) Barbell Shoulder Press

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Bent over lateral raises

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Lean Away Cable Lateral Raise

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Dumbbell External Rotation (See Above)




Range of motion will deliver better results everyday of the week.


Range of motion is a very important part of the development of your shoulders. Because of it being a ball and socket joint, it can allow for greater movement however that can also mean a greater chance for increased levels of tightness and injury.

Best way moving forward is to firstly start stretching Pec Minor and focusing on movements that you would always be used to. These would include things like shoulder dislocates.


  • When weight becomes too heavy, movement patterns alter based on fatigue. Imbalances start to show. It’s important that we create a larger gap between imbalances and fatigue.
  • Poor range of motion will limit the type of movements that you’re able to perform. Tight and weak shoulders will not allow you to perform behind the neck presses.
  • Put your arm behind your back and see how far you can reach (go all the way up to the top of your neck). If you can’t reach above the top of your scapulae, then you need work on your ROM in the shoulder.



Remember, don’t neglect the shoulders if you’re wanting to increase the size of your arms!


Want A Coach Connolly Shoulder Program?


Too easy! All you need to do is share this page (the social media buttons are just below the main image at the top of this page) and when we reach 50 likes, I’ll add the downloadable program for you to use immediately in your training.

Sound like fun? I know it will be. I can’t wait to show you the program and what’s inside.




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