Poor motion high quality is a pandemic amongst athletes, and while a lot of them are capable of establish their very own weaknesses and imbalances, I’m all the time shocked by athletes’ reluctance to deal with and treatment them. It appears to be a lot tougher for them to be humble and regress to mastering the fundamentals than it’s to raise heavy shit and muscle their manner via a exercise.


For the perfect leads to your higher physique work, you want to basically appropriate your motion. (Photo: Pixabay)


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Mobility, stability, and motor management play a essential function in an athlete’s skill to carry out and keep harm free. Mobility is the diploma of uninhibited vary of movement round a joint, and stability is the resistance provided by muscle tissues, ligaments, and tendons surrounding that joint to guard it in opposition to harm.


Motor management refers back to the physique’s functionality to take sensory enter from the setting and execute the right muscle co-ordination in response. Mobility, stability, and motor management are all inter-related within the human physique, with most motion high quality points arising from issues inside this trifecta.


Fixing Poor Movement within the Upper Body

In this text we’re going to take a look at the best way to enhance motion high quality within the higher physique with mobility, stability, and motor management targeted workouts. Sports-specific wants apart, the majority of my preliminary programming for my purchasers’ higher physique work focuses on the posterior chain, and there is not any change right here. I imagine in lengthening the entrance and strengthening the again of the physique first.


Perform the workouts beneath to be sure you’re hitting the best muscle tissues on the proper instances to enhance your efficiency and scale back your harm threat when coaching your higher physique. These workouts will enhance your general mobility, stability, and motor management and ensure your trifecta stays stable.




Mobility + Stability + Motor Control = Correct Fundamental Movement Patterns

Let’s check out mobility first.



Limited vary of movement compromises essentially the most fundamental of motion patterns, as tightness impacts the flexibility to interact the best muscle tissues in the best sequential order.


This inevitably results in imbalance and harm as compensation by extra dominant muscle tissues happens. If your higher again is motion restricted, your decrease again will compensate for it, resulting in instability, ache and harm.


Upper Body Mobility Issues

In the higher physique, widespread mobility points embody tight pectorals, inside rotators, stiffness within the serratus anterior, and blocking of the thoracic backbone.



These points make it very tough to maintain a proud chest and lively again in actions corresponding to Olympic weightlifting. It may also be laborious to attract the shoulder blades collectively throughout pulling actions corresponding to pull ups.


Let’s check out some workouts you possibly can implement into your program to alleviate higher physique mobility points.


Upper Body Mobility Solutions: 1. Mobilize the Thoracic Spine with a Foam Roller

One of the best methods to mobilize the thoracic backbone is to make use of a foam curler. Stiffness or blocking within the thoracic backbone impacts respiration and posture and reduces the vary of shoulder motion, notably when lifting overhead because it modifications the place of the shoulder blade on the rib cage.



  • Roll from the higher trapezius all the way in which right down to the underside rib.
  • Perform with a impartial backbone, then in extension.
  • Avoid the neck or cervical backbone space on the high.


For additional launch, it’s also possible to use this technique with two tennis balls taped collectively in a determine of eight to isolate and mobilize every vertebral joint.


Upper Body Mobility Solutions: 2. Mobilize the Serratus Anterior with a Foam Roller

The serratus anterior is answerable for holding the scapula to the rib cage. A decent serratus anterior is extra widespread than you assume, and performs a significant function in pulling the shoulder ahead. You also can use a foam curler to mobilize this space.



  • Start at your backside rib and roll throughout the muscle fibers from again to entrance.
  • Repeat for every rib.


You can foam roll pre or submit exercise, on restoration days, and earlier than mattress. I discover that spending 10-15 minutes focusing on particular areas earlier than a dynamic heat as much as be essentially the most useful. To obtain the perfect mobility beneficial properties, Andy Ginn suggests releasing the serratus anterior earlier than focusing on the pecs and inside rotators with dynamic heat up mobility sequences just like the one I’ve given beneath.


Upper Body Mobility Solutions: three. Open the Chest and Shoulders with a Dynamic Warm Up

For a basic opening of the chest and shoulders, I favour utilizing a resistance band within the easy mobility sequence I’ve given on this video.



Perform 10 reps of every train proven right here. These variations of the shoulder dislocate are impressed by my expertise with The Real Movement Project. They open the chest and the entrance of the shoulders first, earlier than engaged on retraction and drawing the shoulder blades in the direction of the backbone.


I like to recommend finishing this sequence after foam rolling earlier than all exercises involving the higher physique.


Stability and Motor Control

Stability is rapid integrity round a joint within the presence of full vary of movement. Stabilizers are reflex dependent and depend on motor management relatively than energy to operate correctly. Motor management and stability are co-dependent, which is why I’ve put these two parts collectively.


The greatest manner to enhance stabilization is to enhance motor management. If your alignment is sweet and your physique place is the place it must be in your higher physique actions, your mind will routinely fireplace the focused muscle tissues to present you integrity, joint compression, and an ideal axis of rotation round which your main movers can do their job successfully.


Upper Body Stability and Motor Control Issues

The most typical motion fault I see within the higher physique is dominance and over-development of the higher traps. This could possibly be because of purposefully coaching the muscle with workouts like shoulder shrugs, or via continual poor posture and reinforcing poor motion patterns via quantity or load. Your higher traps are most probably dominant in case you spherical your shoulders in your pulling actions or shrug your shoulders when urgent overhead.


Overactive higher traps over time can grow to be uncomfortable stress across the neck, potential stress complications and within the worst instances, continual irritation and ache. You must learn to decrease the involvement of the higher traps and recruit the mid traps and rhomboids, the decrease traps, and the exterior rotators. A weak and/or unstable shoulder girdle won’t solely have an effect on your main higher physique lifts. It also can have an effect on your decrease physique compound workouts just like the entrance squat and deadlift.


Let’s check out some workouts you possibly can implement into your program to enhance your higher physique stability and motor management points.


Upper Body Stability and Motor Control Solutions: 1. The T3 Raise

One of my greatest takeaways from studying beneath Charles Poliquin was the T3 Raise and its contribution to scapular stability. If the scapula fails to stabilize, shoulder advanced operate is inefficient, which leads to decreased neuromuscular efficiency and harm within the shoulder space. Stablizing the scapula prevents this and enhances motor management on this space of the physique.


I discover that performing this as a single arm variation permits me to really feel my decrease traps have interaction extra in my exercise. When your decrease traps have interaction within the T3 Raise, you must get a pinching feeling proper beneath the shoulder blade that refers contralaterally down and throughout in the direction of the alternative hip.



  • Start with the hand immediately beneath the shoulder. I prefer to exaggerate the preliminary motion by reaching my fingertips towards the bottom in protraction earlier than retracting the shoulder blade.
  • Keep the retraction while the arm strikes as excessive as potential at a 45 diploma angle, with the thumb up.
  • Keep the arm as straight as potential.
  • Pause on the high, then decrease with management earlier than repeating.
  • Make positive to maintain the hips and shoulders stage all through and to brace the backbone.


Start along with your weaker arm, and in case you fail at a particular repetition, simply full the identical quantity on the opposite facet. This is a superb train to deal with any imbalances you might have within the scapular space.


Perform two units of 12-15 reps and superset the T3 Raise and the Sidelying External Rotation train given beneath. The T3 Raise might be carried out earlier than or after your exercise.


Upper Body Stability and Motor Control Solutions: 2. Sidelying External Rotation

External rotation is without doubt one of the most vital parts of any higher physique coaching program for postural energy and harm prevention. The rotator cuff tendons present stability to the shoulder, and the muscle tissues enable for rotation of the shoulder. As exterior rotation isn’t immediately addressed as a element of every other train, it should be labored in isolation.


Sidelying exterior rotation is arguably the best exterior rotation train to carry out, as you should use the wall to align all the physique accurately and for a tactile cue to sign the highest of the motion. As a tenet,you must have the ability to full one repetition utilizing 10% of your 1RM bench press weight in accordance with Poliquin’s structural steadiness ratio.



  • Lie in your facet along with your heels aligned to your sacrum and the again of your shoulder blades.
  • Rest your head in your forearm, and draw the stomach button in. Hips and shoulders must be stacked.
  • Bend the highest arm to 90 levels and place the elbow on the highest of the hip bone. This is your pivot level.
  • Full vary of movement for this train is from inside rotation (hand and forearm shifting throughout the physique in the direction of the bottom) to exterior rotation (forearm and hand pointing in the direction of the ceiling).
  • Try and hold the shoulder from rolling forwards on the interior rotation, and squeeze the again of the shoulder on the high of the motion.


Start along with your weaker arm, and in case you fail at a particular repetition, simply full the identical quantity on the opposite facet. This is a superb train to deal with any imbalances you might have within the shoulder space.


Perform two units of 12-15 reps and superset the T3 Raise and the Sidelying External Rotation. Like the T3 Raise, the Sidelying External Rotation might be carried out earlier than or after your exercise.


Upper Body Stability and Motor Control Solutions: three. The Hanging Retraction

The Hanging Retraction is my favourite pre-pullup drill. A superb cue for this train is shoulders broad, sternum up. As nicely as a pull up bar or rig, it’s also possible to carry out this train on a lat pulldown machine.



  • Grab the bar and are available right into a lifeless grasp with a barely wider than shoulder-width grip.
  • Make positive your lats are in a stretched place and your elbows are locked.
  • From the beginning place, provoke the motion by attempting to drag your shoulder blades down, resisting the temptation to unlock your elbows.
  • Pull the shoulder blades down, squeeze, then return beneath management to the beginning place.


Perform one set of 6-Eight reps earlier than doing pullups or any higher physique targeted exercise.


Move Well Now for Dividends within the Future

The significance of addressing your motion high quality within the higher physique can’t be overstated. Mobility is the muse upon which motor management, stability, energy, and energy is predicated, however simply having the mobility to carry out a sure motion doesn’t imply that you’ve the motion data to carry out these actions accurately.


To construct this information, you want to groove correct motion patterning till the motion turns into computerized. With these workouts, you take step one towards getting there.


If you possibly can’t transfer effectively, you possibly can’t transfer successfully, and you’ll battle to make any beneficial properties in your higher physique coaching. Never sacrifice your kind for load, quantity, or pace. Remember it’s not observe that makes good. It’s good observe that makes good.


Want to know extra about nice motion?

Motor Control and Movement Patterns: A Must-Read for Athletes


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