Shoulder Warm Up Exercises To Prevent Injury

T Spine Mobility

Achy shoulders are painful. I’ve been there and I’ve tried a lot of different things to improve not only my shoulder mobility, but also my rotator cuff strength and stability.

I now move pain free and this was not the case for a LONG time.

Heck it hurt to even lift the covers off of my mattress. I was in a lot of pain.

I wondered was I sleeping on it wrong, did I not have enough mobility? I’ll go over it all in today’s blog I’ll break down:

Want to fast track your shoulder rehab? Join our free 3 day mobility course where I guide you through daily mobility workouts to improve your range of motions and strength.

ring muscle up

Why Your Shoulders May Hurt

Your shoulders could hurt for a number of reasons:

  1. Sleeping “wrong” on your shoulder
  2. Poor movement patterns when you press
  3. Lack of mobility
  4. Lack of stability and rotator cuff stress
  5. etc


…for me when I first started it was quite honestly all of these.

I slept on my shoulder every night, I had/have really restricted t spine mobility and tight lats makes an overhead position really challenging.

And I had incredibly weak stability in my rotator cuff.

toes to bar

Some would argue that it’s because I train Crossfit and doing toes to bar, snatches, all of the overhead movements without as much pulling is what causes the pain.

I would agree with this person for the most part.

It’s extremely important to have muscular balance.

We keep this in mind with our programming at to help the athlete move pain free and still make progress.

We do this by providing virtual mobility classes, taking our athletes through a thorough warm up and providing scaling options for when you can’t do something.

Stability Versus Strength | Shoulder Warm Up Exercises

This one a strange concept for me and took me a very long time to learn.

Because we like to think that doing more pulling exercises like single arm rows, lat pulldowns, banded pull a parts, wall slides, etc are all going to help our shoulder.

Let me be clear…

…all of those things are great for your shoulder.

I had a rule taught to me many years ago that was you need to be doing 2x if not 3x as much pulling as you do pushing.

And I still like that.

Essentially saying pull more than you push so that your anterior (front side) of our bodies musculature doesn’t get too tight.

Tight muscles lead to restricted mobility and often times lack of strength because you can’t get into proper position.

Think of this posture on the computer (rounded back) we don’t want that.

shoulder warm up exercises

Strengthening our back helps our posture and gets rid of that rounded back and head forward position.

Shoulder Stability

What’s interesting about this is that improving my shoulder stability it actually really helped reduce my shoulder pain.

For example doing bottoms up work

Let’s use the bottoms up kettlebell press for example.

The goal is to challenge your STABILITY of the shoulder not the strength.

I noticed that my effected shoulder had a lot more wobble going on aka lack of stability.


…adding this exercise in along with everything else I’m giving you really helped prime my shoulders for when I got back to pressing I could do this pain free.

Why is that?

When a muscle is weak (often the tiny muscles supporting your shoulder) they just need to be “turned on” and when you can activate them they are a lot stronger.

Another great exercise is:

These are great for your shoulder but very challenging 🙂

The bottoms up kettlebell press was great for challenging stability through the pressing plane but we also need to work on strengthening your shoulder through isometric holds.

The I, T, Y drill is a great shoulder exercise to add in your warm up because we are getting these muscles to “turn on” and be active.

Cuban Press For Shoulder Stability Strength | Rotator Cuff

This shoulder exercise I had to be real careful with.

Sometimes I could do it and sometimes my shoulder just wasn’t ready for it and I would need to complete shoulder warm up series c (listed below)

This exercises demands strong external rotation strength.

Do it with control.

Especially on the eccentric phase of the lift (controlling down).

Shoulder Mobility

In most cases shoulder pain comes from a lack of mobility, stability, and strength.

In that order.

So if the first thing to do is to improve your shoulder mobility?


But most people don’t like to stretch because it’s boring or they want to get straight to the workout.

That’s why we like to incorporate PAILS/RAILS and Kinstretch as our form of mobility training within our virtual mobility classes.

This incorporates active stretching.

Active stretching works to improve your end range of motion by strengthening it.

Here is an example:

Improve your range of motion and strength in that end range.

When trying to improve mobility think of this format:

  • foam roll or smash the area first x 1-2 minutes
  • stretch the area for 1-2 minutes
  • then apply this pails/rails technique where you are working to strengthen and improve your range of motion
If you asked for just one shoulder stretch…this is what it would be

This shoulder mobility exercise is to me the kind of all.

Because in most cases what restricts your shoulders?

Your lats.

And this stretch REALLY will open up your lats.

Give it I a go.

Start with 30-60 seconds and then increase as you get more comfortable.

Shoulder Warm Up Exercises

We believe the better you can understand the importance of improving your shoulder stability and rotator cuff strength the more likely you are to do these exercises.

All of these exercises I’m providing you below can be thrown into your warm up however you see fit.

The way you will see progress and better shoulder strength is by actually doing them


Serratus Wall Slide | Shoulder Warm Up | #1

The serratus wall slide is a great shoulder exercise that everyone should be doing more of.

Side note:

  • this is why we encourage you to press THROUGH the floor and round your back on push ups and things of that nature.

Learn to protract your shoulders is a little secret to improved shoulder health.

Shoulder Warm Up Series A | #2

The next three videos are all performed on a band.

When my shoulder is acting up it’s the first thing I get back to doing.

Take notes on the exercises and make it a part of your warm up/routine on a weekly/daily basses alternating between the different variations we provide below.

Watch the video to see the exercises

Shoulder Warm Up Series B | # 3

In each of the videos I encourage you to not focus on speed but rather control and focus on time under tension.

This is not a workout (although it will burn)!

This is pre or rehab.

So take things slow and focus on quality of movement throughout your warm up.

These are slightly more challenging but necessary.

Shoulder Warm Up Series C | # 4

We encourage you to find some type of pattern in your workouts of when you want to add in these warm ups.

Perhaps doing:

  • shoulder series a/b together
  • shoulder series c/d together
  • and alternating the two when you go train.
Shoulder warm up series c & d can be coupled together

Shoulder Warm Up Series D | # 5

Notice all the different planes of motion we did?

Your shoulders are used A LOT.

It’s important to strengthen them in several different planes of motion.

Also I should add if you try and exercise that gives you pain…

…let’s avoid pain.

Drop in the comments below where you are experiencing pain and if you found this blog to be helpful!

Make these shoulder warm ups a part of your routine to bulletproof your shoulders.

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Shoulder pain sucks and I dealt with it for a very long time.

But you know what?

Moving pain free feels good.

And I'm STRONG again.

It's not that I lacked strength but my shoulders were just so weak.

I gave you some of the exercises that I did to increase my shoulder stability which then in return allowed me to press pain free and feel strong.

Add these shoulder exercises into your warm up (often) and we are confident you will begin to move pain free again.

Want some additional guidance to improve your mobility, stability and strength? Check out our free 3 day mobility course by clicking here.

We would love to hear your feedback and additional questions in the comments below!

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