The shoulder is a complex joint that requires a lot of moving pieces to maintain some degree of health. To prevent pain and injury, the thoracic spine, scapula, gleno-humeral joint and upper arm all need to work synergistically, without compensations and restrictions.
Many TRX shoulder exercises can accomplish that goal, training the muscles that attach at the shoulder to function the way they are supposed to.
A myriad of exercises will improve or maintain shoulder health, using bands, dumbbells, or bodyweight; but TRX brings a unique dimension. A steeper angle means more resistance, making the exercise more intense, and vice versa. And because every exercise has some degree of angle, your core musculature must constantly be engaged—leading to a better synergistic relationship for the whole body.
These exercises might look easy, but intention of movement is vital to success.
TRX Lunge with Chest Stretch
There is often a discrepancy in strength and tension between the shoulder’s anterior and posterior aspects. Most commonly, the pecs are stronger and have more tension than the weaker, overstretched posterior muscles.
By starting with an exercise that promotes a stretch to the chest musculature, you can end up placing your shoulders in a more optimal position to make the subsequent exercises more effective.
- Fully lengthen the TRX, grab the handles and find a distance away from the anchor where your arms are parallel to the ground.
- Apply pressure to the handles. As you step into a Lunge, your arms will come above your head.
- At the bottom of the Lunge, you should feel a gentle stretch in your chest. As with any stretching exercise, make sure the stretch is in the musculature, and not the shoulder joint itself.
- Alternate legs when you step; this creates a variation in the stretch, depending on which foot is forward.
TRX Snow Angels
This exercise promotes upward and downward rotation of the scapula while keeping tension and stability through the upper back and shoulder. TRX Snow Angels allow you to gain control over your scapula for better movement.
- Stagger your feet slightly, then place the straps of the TRX around your wrists, or grab the handles.
- Lean back, making sure there is tension in your upper back and shoulders, and bring your arms up overhead.
- Maintain a neutral spine and avoid excessive arching to complete the movement.
- Once you reach end range of motion, slowly bring your arms back down to your sides.
TRX Serratus Slides
What looks more like an elevated Plank is actually a great exercise for serratus anterior, which is a major contributor to upward rotation of the scapula. When it loses some of its function, it gets overpowered by the downward rotators and causes all sorts of issues pertaining to scapula movement. TRX Serratus Slides can be performed in two ways, either unilaterally or bilaterally.
- Place your forearms in the straps, much like you would set up for a Plank.
- Find an angle that is somewhat challenging to the core, but not so much so that you sacrifice the true purpose of the exercise.
- Put pressure into the straps, promoting a more protracted position, then slowly push your arms up.
- As you push your arms up, avoid leaning into the exercise. This is not a rollout.
TRX Wall Slides
Much like the Serratus Slides, with the Wall Slide, we’re looking for good upward rotation through the scapula.
- Face away from the anchor with the straps lengthened halfway. Place your forearms in the foot cradles and walk out until the TRX straps have tension.
- Make field goal posts with your arms, and maintain pressure into the TRX.
- Press your arms up to the ceiling, maintaining that same tension.
- Avoid the elbows caving in.
TRX I, Y, T, W
Since the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder blade can become weak, it’s important to train them through several angles in order to recruit all the smaller muscles. This TRX shoulder circuit is an optimal way to do just that.
- Grab the handles of the TRX, bring your arms into a T position and walk away from the anchor till there is tension in the straps.
- Once in position, maintain a neutral spine, and while maintaining core tension, pull your arms overhead into an “I.”
- Slowly return to the starting position and work through the rest of the circuit.
- If you need to regress this circuit, simply stagger your feet and use your back leg to assist your shoulders.
After mobilizing and activating the areas that need the corresponding exercises, make sure the prehab drills stick by incorporating systemic strength exercises involving the shoulder joint. Exercises like the TRX Low Row and the TRX Chest Press will add strength to the newfound ranges of movement and engage newly activated muscles.