Glenohumeral stability is important for those involved on overhead lifts, overhead sports and repetitive overhead activity. This is especially true with shoulders that demonstrate unilateral and multi-directional laxity, whether congenital or acquired through injury or adaptive response in the face of stress (e.g. throwing). Avoiding excessive shoulder extension past the plane of the body with pressing reduces injury risk, while still allowing for sufficient strengthening.
Execution: Begin in a hook lying position with dumbbells in each hand and the arms full extended. Next, slowly lower the weights until the elbows/upper arm lightly touches the floor. Pause, and then return to the start position. Perform 8-15 repetitions using a slow and predictable cadence throughout the motion. Repeat for desired number of sets.
Application: This modified range of motion ensures that undue stress on the anterior capsule is avoided, as over time with heavier loads it will adapt (acquired laxity). In addition, it minimizes risk of compression and irritation of the rotator cuff itself.
While some will argue full range of motion is paramount for full strength with this lift, I would counter that long term the risk likely outweighs the reward with repeated heavier loads. This, in turn, exposes overhead athletes to undue risk of an overuse injury. They are already a population who likely have dominant arm anterior laxity from repeated asymmetrical throwing, serving, hitting, swimming, etc. I feel the modified approach is a better approach for overhead athletes.
This same modification is applicable for barbell work as well. It does not take long before a client will learn the modified range of motion, but keep in mind the reduced motion no longer allows for any bouncing of the bar off the chest. In many cases, clients will feel as if this modified version is actually harder due to the eccentric load falling more on the muscle without loading the joint at end range.
1. Increase time under tension and/or load
2. Decrease lower body support by flexing the hips and knees to 90 degrees
3. Perform alternate arm repetitions
4. Move to an unstable surface such as a stability ball
Additional notes: I highly recommend this method for any clients with any history of shoulder subluxation/dislocation, rotator cuff pathology, labral pathology or known AC joint pathology.