Gymnastics is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world and supplemental gymnastics shoulder workouts are especially important because of the tremendous strain the sport will place on your shoulders. Even if many different muscle groups are engaged in a particular routine, your shoulders, in many cases, will bear the brunt of the strain. The exercises listed below can be included in extra workouts to help prepare your shoulders to handle this strain.
- Clean and Press. The clean and press is one of the most effective of all the different shoulder press type exercises because it uses more muscle groups than do most others. Begin with a weighted bar on the floor. Bend your knees until you can grab it with both hands (make sure you keep your back straight and that your knees don't come forward over your feet). Pull the weight up sharply to about chest level, working with your lower and upper body together, then quickly drop below it enough that you can reverse your grip (to underneath the bar instead of above it). Finish the move by pressing the bar straight up with your shoulders until your arms are straight.
- Butterflys. You can use either dumbbells or kettlebells for butterflys. For the basic motion, stand with your arms hanging at your side and one weight in either hand. Smoothly raise your arms, keeping your elbows straight, until they are pointing straight out to either side level with the floor, with your hands facing the floor. You can create variations of this workout by incorporating various "pulse motions" — for example, raise your arms to shoulder level, drop them halfway back to your side, raise them to shoulder level again, then drop them all the way. This shocks your shoulder muscles differently than does a normal lift and dramatically increases your muscle endurance.
- Handstand Pushups. Normal pushups are good for your shoulders; handstand pushups are great for them! No complicated technique here; from a handstand position, simply lower your weight until your head is just off the mat, then straighten your arms to drive your weight back up. If necessary, rest your feet against a wall to keep yourself stable while performing the workout.
- Rotator Cuff Exercises. A common gymnastics injury is a torn rotator cuff. There are some simple exercises you can do to help minimize the risk of this injury. Remember, these are not designed to be very strenuous workouts, if you use too much weight, you could actually cause a rotator cuff injury, rather than prevent one. Start with a small dumbbell in one hand with your arm bent at a 90 degree angle and your elbow tight to your side. Rotate the dumbbell outward in a motion like you are opening a door, than repeat the same motion inward towards your stomach. Finally, raise your upper arm until it is parallel with the ground and repeat the door-opening motion up and down. Make sure you work both shoulders evenly.
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