As much as I believe that our motivation for exercise should come from a health perpective, I’m not oblivious to the fact that EVERYONE wants to look good.
So when it comes to getting that thin waist, broad shoulder look, I really don’t think that there is any better tool than the one that you were born with (your body) and the one that aligns your joints properly to not only give you strong shoulders, but to keep them healthy as well (a kettlebell).
First, let’s nip things in the bud. If you want that tapered look, then it doesn’t matter how big you try to get your shoulders or back if your waist is as large if not larger than the rest of your upper body. So dial in your nutrition and use a great fat loss plan like this one…
Your shoulder is such a complex joint that I think in order to get them looking great and keeping them healthy we need to use a combination of over head pressing movements, pulling movements (like rows and chin-ups) and stability exercises like overhead holds.
First, stick to natural movements. Most bodybuilder types think of front raises and lateral raises as the way to building your shoulders. But when you stop and think of everyday life, how often do you raise a weight in front of you or to the side? Stick to overhead pressing movements like a kettlebell military press making sure that you’re keeping your shoulders "in their sockets" by firing your lats to keep your shoulders DOWN and BACK.
By keeping your shoulders "packed", you’ll ensure that you won’t strain your neck and that the fragile joint isn’t in a compromised position.
I would practice your KB military presses from the rack position doing 3 to 5 sets of 5-8 reps. Make sure that you start with your non-dominant arm and then match the number of clean reps completed with the same amount of reps on the dominant arm.
Next, I would focus on some pulling movements. I am a HUGE fan of chin-ups and try to get in 100 reps of them (of varying grips and weight) per week. If you can’t do chin-ups, then I suggest you pick-up some stretch bands to assist you.
I don’t like the lat pulldown machine very much, and if you’re like me and you train at home, then you don’t have access to one anyway.
In addition to chin-ups, I think rows are essential to keeping your shoulders strong and healthy. Not only are doing rows great for building a strong broad back, but they are critical in helping you maintain great posture.
When it comes to rows, I really like inverted/bodyweight rows done on a set or rings, blast straps or a TRX. I also love doing high-rep dumbbell or kettlebell rows and will often finish 2 workouts per week doing 1 set of kettlebell rows per arm for reps with my 36kg bell.
I’ve found that doing this has really helped my grip strength and has helped my military press get better as well.
Finally, to help you get really strong shoulders, I believe some stability work is necessary. Because our shoulder is a ball and socket joint, it’s important to make sure that we are able to maintain mobility in it while keeping our scapuale stable. To accomplish this, I really like overhead holds again ensuring that our shoulders stay PACKED and our lats are fired up.
For shoulder stability, I’d be difficult to find a better exercise than a Turkish Get-Up.
TGUs are one of those exercises that are very technical and that should be practiced a lot. If you’ve never done them before then I’d suggest that you do 50 naked get-ups per arm just to groove the movement pattern in.
KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON – this isn’t that kind of site. A "n@ked get-up" is a get-up performed without any weight.
In the meantime, while you’re still learning the Get Up, try these variations on over head holds that are great for conditioning and for strong stable shoulders….
(You really need to watch this video right through until the end).
Remember, strong shoulders and a broad-tapered back is great, but it all gets negated if you’ve got a huge waist.
Use this program to trim down in the comfort of your own home using only bodyweight and ONE kettlebell…
Chris Lopez, RKC