How to Use 4 Essential Exercises to Strengthen Your Shoulder


Jump ahead to:

Discover 4 essential shoulder exercises to boost strength and stability

Enhance Your Shoulder Health: A Comprehensive Resource for Recovery and Strengthening provides a brief overview of essential exercises that are vital for maintaining stable and robust shoulders. Whether you’re recovering from a labrum injury or seeking to improve your shoulder strength, this guide features four crucial exercises that target your external rotators and posterior shoulder. These exercises also include closed chain movements to support overall stability. Suitable for both rehabilitation and general strengthening, this resource equips you with the necessary techniques to achieve optimal shoulder function and promote overall health.


Common causes of shoulder damage, such as sports injuries, car accidents, and work-related incidents like slip and falls, can result in significant harm. This may include conditions like labrum tear injuries or the need for shoulder arthroscopy. A properly structured rehabilitation plan is crucial for recovering from these situations. The exercises outlined in this guide target the weaknesses and imbalances that often arise from these types of injuries, promoting the restoration of strength and mobility in the shoulder. By prioritizing these specific movements, individuals can effectively enhance pain management and overall shoulder stability, leading to a speedy and thorough recovery process.


In addition, these exercises contribute not only to the recovery of injuries but also to the prevention of potential shoulder problems. Consistently including these movements in your workout regimen can strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, promoting overall shoulder well-being. This proactive mindset is especially vital for athletes and those with physically demanding occupations, as having strong and stable shoulders is essential for both performance and avoiding injuries. Prioritizing shoulder health through these exercises can ensure lasting functionality and endurance, decreasing the likelihood of recurring injuries and allowing you to maintain an active way of life.


Foam Roller Serratus Slides

Foam Roller Serratus Slides are an excellent exercise for promoting shoulder stability and strength. This movement specifically targets the serratus anterior muscle, which is crucial for proper scapular motion and overall shoulder function.


How to Perform Foam Roller Serratus Slides:


  1. Starting Position:

    To begin, kneel on the floor near a horizontally positioned foam roller. Rest your forearms on the foam roller with your elbows slightly bent.
  2. Roll Forward:

    Carefully extend your arms and push your shoulder blades forward, rolling the foam roller forward in a controlled and smooth motion
  3. Roll Back:

    As you roll the foam roller back towards your body, ensure that your forearms remain in contact with it. Keep your focus on maintaining stability and control throughout the movement.



Improves both the stability and mobility of the scapula:

By focusing on the serratus anterior muscle, this activity improves the management and mobility of the shoulder blades, crucial for maintaining optimal shoulder wellness.

Strengthens the serratus anterior:

The serratus anterior is crucial for both shoulder blade mobility and stability. Strengthening this muscle can effectively prevent problems like winging scapula and enhance overall shoulder function.

Improves overall shoulder function:

Consistently incorporating Foam Roller Serratus Slides into your routine can result in improved shoulder mobility, decreasing the likelihood of injuries and improving overall performance in a variety of activities.

Despite its importance for shoulder health, the serratus anterior muscle is often ignored. This muscle plays a crucial role in stabilizing the scapula against the ribcage, ensuring effortless arm movements. Neglecting this muscle can result in shoulder impingements, instability, and discomfort. To prevent these problems, consider adding Foam Roller Serratus Slides to your routine as a proactive measure.

Aside from improving the strength of the serratus anterior, this exercise also encourages improved mobility in the scapula. As many issues with the shoulder stem from insufficient movement in the scapula, it is important to address this issue. The Foam Roller Serratus Slides specifically target this area, aiding in proper scapular movement and distributing forces evenly. This ultimately reduces the likelihood of experiencing overuse injuries.


Additional Tips:

  • Control your movements:

    Maintain control over your movements by ensuring each roll forward and back is smooth and deliberate, in order to fully maximize the benefits.
  • Focus on form:

    Ensure a gentle flex in your elbows and that your shoulder blades remain active during the entire exercise.
  • Breathe steadily:

    Proper breathing can help maintain stability and focus during the exercise.

Incorporating Foam Roller Serratus Slides into your routine is a crucial move towards enhancing shoulder well-being and steadiness. Whether you’re an athletic individual, in the process of recovering from an injury, or aiming to enhance your shoulder capabilities, this workout is a worthwhile addition to your exercise plan.

Incline Y T W

The Incline Y T W is a beneficial exercise for engaging the upper back and shoulder muscles. It specifically targets the lower trapezius and rhomboids, crucial for maintaining good posture and shoulder alignment. By adding this movement to your routine, you can strengthen your shoulders, reduce injury risks, and improve overall upper body strength.

How to Perform Incline Y T W:

  • Starting Position:

      • Make sure your feet are securely planted on the floor and that your chest is properly supported as you lie face down on an inclined bench.
      • Put your arms in a hanging position with your back to the floor.
  • Y Formation:

      • Form a “Y” formation with your raised arms above your head.
      • At the peak of the movement, concentrate on pressing your shoulder blades together as you raise your arms.
      • After a little period of time, return your arms to their initial posture by lowering them.
  • T Formation:

      • Once you have finished the “Y” movement, extend your arms to the sides to create a “T” shape.
      • Squeeze your shoulder blades together once more, being careful to keep the right form throughout the exercise.
      • Hold the “T” position for a brief period of time before lowering your arms back to the beginning.
  • W Formation:

    • Lastly, create a “W” shape by lowering your arms and bending your elbows.
    • As you raise your arms into the “W” posture, keep your shoulder blades together and squeeze them together.
    • Return to the starting position after a brief hold.


  • Strengthens the Upper back and Shoulder Muscles:

      • The Incline Y T W exercise focuses on the lower trapezius and rhomboid muscles, which can be weak in many people. By building strength in these areas, it can improve shoulder stability and contribute to a stronger upper body.
  • Improves Shoulder Blade Movement and Stability:

      • Having proper shoulder blade movement is essential for optimal and comfortable shoulder functioning. The Incline Y T W exercise helps enhance scapular control and mobility, ultimately decreasing the chances of experiencing shoulder impingements or other potential injuries.
  • Enhances Posture:

    • The Incline Y T W targets the muscles responsible for scapular retraction and depression, ultimately promoting better posture. This, in turn, decreases strain on the neck and shoulders and prevents common problems like rounded shoulders and forward head posture.


Additional Tips:


  • Maintain Proper Form:

    Keep your movements controlled and deliberate to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise and minimize the risk of injury. Avoid relying on momentum to lift your arms.
  • Pay attention to Scapular Action:

    The crucial element of the Incline Y T W is activating your shoulder blades. Make a deliberate effort to contract your shoulder blades in each stage of the exercise to fully reap its advantages.
  • Resistance:

    Begin with lighter weights or no weights if you’re new to this exercise, and gradually increase the resistance as your strength and control improve.
  • Make It Part of Your Routine:

    The Incline Y T W is a versatile exercise that can be used in your upper body workout during your warm-up, main routine, or for accessory work. Keeping consistent with incorporating this exercise is key for achieving lasting results.

By making the Incline Y T W exercise a consistent part of your workout routine, you can greatly improve both your shoulder health and upper body strength. Not only does this exercise help with healing shoulder injuries, but it also acts as a proactive way to keep your shoulders functioning at their best.

1/2 Kettlebell Windmill Exercise


The 1/2 Kettlebell Windmill Exercise is a beneficial movement that targets multiple muscle groups to improve shoulder stability, core strength, and flexibility. It is a valuable addition to any shoulder recovery routine and can help enhance shoulder mobility, stability, and overall body coordination

How to Perform 1/2 Kettlebell Windmill Exercise:

  • Starting Position:

      • Start by kneeling on one knee with the other foot placed flat on the ground.
      • Take a kettlebell or dumbbell in the hand on the opposite side of your kneeling leg. Make sure you have a secure grip and the weight is steady.
  • Press Weight Overhead:

      • Extend your arm fully as you press the kettlebell overhead. Ensure that it stays in line with your ear and keep your shoulder stable.
      • Extend your arm fully as you press the kettlebell overhead. Ensure that it stays in line with your ear and keep your shoulder stable.
  • Rotate Torso:

      • Activate your midsection and twist your upper body in the direction of the leg you’re kneeling on.
      • Gently lower your hand toward the ground or your shin, depending on your level of flexibility and stability.
      • It is important to maintain a straight back and controlled movement. Avoid hunching or rounding your back.
  • Return to Starting Position:

    • Gently reverse the motion, turning your torso to return to the starting position with the kettlebell still held overhead.
    • Ensure constant control throughout the motion to avoid any abrupt movements that may destabilize the shoulder.
    • Alternate between sides and perform the movement again, making sure to evenly work both sides..


  • Enhances Shoulder Stability and Mobility:

      • By placing the kettlebell overhead, the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder are put to the test. This helps to enhance both stability and mobility, which is essential for injury prevention and improved shoulder performance.
  • Strengthens the Core and Improves Rotational Flexibility:

      • The windmill exercise targets the obliques and other core muscles, promoting both strength and stability. Additionally, it increases rotational flexibility, which can enhance athletic performance and daily functions.
  • Engages Multiple Muscle Groups for Overall Strength and Stability:

    • In addition to targeting the shoulder and core, this exercise also engages the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. By involving various muscle groups, it effectively enhances overall body strength and stability, making it a well-rounded movement for maintaining shoulder health.

Additional Tips:

  • Start with Light Weights:

      • For those unfamiliar with the 1/2 Kettlebell Windmill Exercise, start with a lighter weight to perfect your form and technique. As you gain strength and confidence, slowly add more weight.
  • A Proper Form:

      • Maintaining proper form is crucial for reaping the full benefits of this exercise and minimizing the risk of injuries. Ensure that your movements are deliberate and composed, while concentrating on maintaining a straight back and stable shoulders.
  • Incorporate into Your Routine:

      • Incorporating the 1/2 Kettlebell Windmill Exercise into your workout routine as part of your warm-up, main workout, or accessory work is beneficial. The key to seeing the best results is to consistently perform this exercise.
  • Breathing Exercise:

    • Breathe steadily throughout the exercise. Inhale as you lower your torso and exhale as you return to the starting position. Proper breathing helps maintain stability and focus.


  • Full Kettlebell Windmill:

      • After mastering the 1/2 Kettlebell Windmill, you can advance to the full version, which is done while standing. This variation adds difficulty to your core and overall stability.
  • Dumbbell Windmill:

    • If you don’t have access to a kettlebell, you can perform this exercise with a dumbbell. The movement remains the same, and you will still reap the benefits of enhanced shoulder stability and core strength.

Adding the 1/2 Kettlebell Windmill Exercise to your exercise regimen is a great method for improving shoulder stability, core strength, and overall flexibility. Besides supporting the healing process of shoulder injuries, it also acts as a precautionary measure to sustain peak shoulder wellness.

Plank Exercises & Hand Taps

Plank exercises are crucial in developing both core strength and stability, which play a critical role in maintaining healthy shoulders. For an extra challenge, incorporate hand taps into your plank routine to improve shoulder stability and coordination. Not only does this straightforward adjustment target the core, but it also enhances shoulder stability, making it a valuable component of any shoulder rehabilitation or strengthening plan.

How to Perform Plank Exercises & Hand Taps:

  • Starting Position:

      • Start in a high plank stance, with your hands positioned directly under your shoulders and your feet separated by hip-width. Your entire body should create a straight line from head to heels.
      • To up the difficulty and target your shoulder stabilizers, wrap a resistance band around your wrists.
  • Lift and Tap:

      • As you lift your hand off the ground, tap the opposite shoulder while holding a stable plank position. Be sure to engage your core muscles to avoid any sagging or rotating of your hips.
      • Place your hand back to the starting point and perform the same action with your other hand. Keep switching hands in a smooth and deliberate manner.
  • Maintain Stability:

    • Be sure to maintain stability in your hips and core throughout the workout. Steer clear of any excessive weight shifting from one side to the other.
    • Utilize your glutes and quadriceps to stabilize your lower half and keep a straight alignment..


  • Improves Core Strength and Shoulder Stability:

      • Plank exercises are renowned for their ability to strengthen the core muscles, which play a vital role in maintaining overall stability. Incorporating hand taps into your routine also activates the shoulder stabilizers, boosting shoulder stability and decreasing the likelihood of injuries.
  • Enhances Coordination and Balance:

    • Performing alternating hand taps demands both coordination and balance, demanding your body to sustain stability while executing dynamic actions. This can ultimately enhance your overall proprioception and bodily awareness.
  • Reduces the Risk of Shoulder Injuries by Promoting Proper Alignment:

    • By implementing hand taps during plank exercises, you reinforce proper alignment and positioning for your shoulders, which in turn evenly distributes the load across your core. This technique helps to minimize the chances of strain or injuries.

Additional Tips:

  • Focus on Form:

      • Ensure that your body remains in a straight line throughout the exercise. Avoid letting your hips sag or your back arch. Proper form is key to maximizing the benefits and preventing injuries.
  • Start with a Stable Base:

      • If you are new to this exercise, start with a wider stance to provide a more stable base. As you become more comfortable and your stability improves, you can gradually narrow your stance to increase the challenge.
  • Control Your Movements:

      • Perform the hand taps slowly and deliberately. Avoid rushing through the exercise, as controlled movements are more effective for building strength and stability.
  • Breathing:

    • Maintain steady breathing throughout the exercise. Inhale as you prepare to lift your hand and exhale as you tap your shoulder. Proper breathing helps maintain stability and focus.


  • Knee Plank Hand Taps:

      • If a full plank is too challenging, start with a knee plank position. This variation reduces the load on your shoulders and core while still providing the benefits of the hand taps.
  • Weighted Hand Taps:

      • For an added challenge, hold a small weight in each hand while performing the hand taps. This increases the resistance and further engages your shoulder stabilizers and core muscles.
  • Side Plank Hand Taps:

    • To target the obliques and further enhance shoulder stability, perform hand taps in a side plank position. This variation requires additional balance and coordination.

By adding Plank Exercises & Hand Taps to your workout routine, you can greatly enhance core strength, shoulder stability, and overall coordination. These exercises not only support shoulder recovery but also serve as a preventative method to keep your shoulders in top shape..

Incorporate These Exercises into Your Routine

These workouts are beneficial for both rehab and prehab, promoting shoulder wellness and decreasing the risk of injuries. Add them into your upcoming upper body session as either a warm-up or supplementary exercises. Your shoulders will appreciate the improved strength and stability.

Here at ShoulderMD, we are committed to equipping you with the top-notch tips and recovery techniques for maintaining healthy shoulders. Stay connected with us on social media and our blog for additional professional guidance and the latest updates. For more information on our services and how Dr. Schwartz can assist you in achieving optimal shoulder health, use this link to schedule an appointment and consult with him.

Thank you for reading! Stay strong and healthy!

Skip to content