Ring training and suspension trainers seem to be everywhere. You'd be hard-pressed to walk through a gym without seeing some version of this equipment. Although they are typically used for strength training, rings are also a great tool to improve shoulder mobility.
Thanks to its ball-and-socket structure, the shoulder joint is incredibly mobile. At the expense of this mobility comes stability. The shoulder relies primarily on its surrounding muscles to keep it stable in combination with the glenohumeral capsule, labrum and ligaments. So strengthening these muscles, which include the four rotator cuff muscles, is imperative.
Athletes need a balance of mobility and stability to optimize function and prevent injury. Rings allow them to train their shoulders through a full range of motion, which increases mobility. Ring exercises can also be used to build strength. This is important because athletes need their shoulders to be strong in all positions to reduce the chance of their joints becoming compromised.
I believe the Ring Single-Arm 4-Way Plate Raise develops these two essential aspects. In this exercise, you hold a push-up position with one hand grasping a ring, and with your opposite arm, you perform a Lateral Plate Raise at four different angles. The exercise builds shoulder strength through a large range of motion while developing stability in the shoulder of the arm holding the ring.
This is a challenging exercise, so you need to start slow. To ensure you have enough shoulder stability and core strength to perform the movement, begin by performing a One-Arm Ring Plank. Once this is established, add a lightweight plate and gradually progress.
As an added benefit, this is an incredible core exercise. The instability of the ring and changing angles of the lateral plate raise pose a serious challenge to your core stabilizing muscles.
- Do not perform if you have shoulder pain.
- Attach a ring to something strong enough to hold your body weight, such as a Pull-Up bar. If you do not have access to a gym, take the exercise outside and use a sturdy tree limb.
- Grab a light plate, hold on tight and swing it in control through a 12, 1, 2 and 3 o'clock position. Repeat on your opposite side through a 12, 11, 10 and 9 o'clock position.
- Keep your core tight and hips square to the ground.
- Sets/Reps: 3x8 each arm
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