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Upper Body Warm-up Routine For Healthier Shoulders

This is a guest post from Jerry Shreck of Jerry used the exact protocol described below to recover some much needed shoulder mobility, helping him get back to his regular training numbers in the gym.


You know how important it is, but many times it will get cut short because of not having a lot of time to squeeze your workout in during an already hectic daily schedule. For years my warm-ups have been sub par or just plan terrible. Well, I got away with it many times when I was younger but as I am “slowly” getting older, I have realized more now just how important it is.

A proper warm-up is not only good for preventing injuries but it will actually enhance your abilities to lift heavier weights with great technique. Now, when I say “proper warm-up”, I do not mean just breaking a sweat. That is a good start, but it should also include increased range of motion through mobilization techniques, unrestricted fascia tissue, synovial joint lubrication, neuromuscular excitation, and increased kinesthetic awareness.

OK, now in English – we need to be completely ready to go when we attack the training session. Getting a sweat going isn’t enough.

I have had on and off shoulder issues for years and I know for a fact that most of it stems just purely from not warming up properly and rushing into big weights before my body was ready to lift them. As a busy strength coach, many times I do not follow the disciplines that I preach to my athletes. Now, I make it a point to follow a more defined warm-up routine that I have developed for myself and I would like to share that with you today. By the way, my shoulders have never felt so good and my goals I set to attain on the bench press and overhead press are starting to look like future realities.

For the sake of this article not turning into a book, I am going to just post my warm-up exercises (with brief descriptions) in the order that I do them. I would recommend watching the video again for better descriptive views of each exercise.

1. Body Warm-up: Break a sweat on cardio equipment, jump rope, dynamic lower body routine, or jog to light run.

2. Shoulder Circuit with a theraband tubing, 5 exercises:

  • Thumbs out, palms up, pull apart and pinch shoulder blades
  • Stand on tubing, thumbs up, arms 30 degrees forward, raise arms until parallel to ground
  • Stand on bands, thumbs down, arms 30 degrees forward, raise until parallel to ground
  • Stand on bands, high pull position with arms, elbows at 90 degrees, externally rotate at shoulders
  • Stand on bands, switch bands in hands and cross the arms, thumbs pointing in towards hips, pull arms up and start externally rotating in the shoulders as you bring the arms up and across the body diagonally until you make a 135 degree angle in your arm-pits with the thumbs pointing back, return back to the beginning by internally rotating the shoulders
  • Each exercise is done for 10 reps

3. Indian Clubs: No set number of reps. “Listen” to your body. Some movements might last a few minutes.

  • Cross Body Swings with back tap
  • External Big Arm Circle Swings
  • Internal Big Arm Circle Swings
  • Wrist Circles both directions
  • Alternating 1-Arm Mace Swings (shoulder mobilization)
  • Full Arm Swing with back tap. Progress swing into RDL or Good Morning range of motion.
  • Double Cross Body Chops with back tap. Decelerate and accelerate
    through core and shoulders girdles.
  • Alternating 1-Arm Mace Swings

4. Foam Roller: (Facial Release) No set number of reps or time.

  • Mid/Upper Back
  • Lats
  • Neck Roll
  • Low back over roll with scapular retraction, butt stays in contact with the

5. On All 4’s (hands & knees): No set number of reps or time.

  • Scapular Retraction/Protraction (scapular mobilization)
  • Drop shoulder towards floor. Anterior shoulder stretch (thoracic
  • Drop Shoulder Floor Slide. Posterior shoulder stretch (thoracic mobility)
  • Cat & Camel (high back arch/pelvis drop)

6. Lacrosse Ball Rollout: No set number of reps or time.

  • Rollout pec and anterior shoulder
  • Change arm positions and angles
  • Find hot spots and pressure them (get fascia tissues unrestricted)

Shoulder Warm-up Routine for Stronger, Healthier Shoulders

I will modify this from time to time, but this mainly is the prehab warm-up that I have come up with through my trials and errors until I found what felt right for me. You may have to experiment with some of these and/or the order of the exercises to see what is right for you.

If I am doing a total body training session that day, I would have modified it to include a total body dynamic warm-up first. I would also include a hip band circuit, like I did for the shoulder, and I would have used the foam roller to rollout the legs. Sometimes I will also roll out the arches in my feet with a lacrosse ball. And you can keep adding more and more but I think you get the point.

Obviously, this may take a little time but it is time well spent. In the past, I would have sacrificed parts of a warm-up. Now I would rather sacrifice an additional set or two of a workout, if I have to, to make sure I am properly warmed up.

I hope that helps!

To Your Health,

Jerry Shreck

Fat Gripz

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4 Responses to “Upper Body Warm-up Routine For Healthier Shoulders”

  1. CL Kassiris Says:

    I have been powerlifting since I was 18 years old. My last meet was in 2006, world bench meet. I was going for a world record of 601 at the age of 68. My shoulder could not handle it any more. Found out my right shoulder was a mess. I needed a right shoulder replacement. I had it done. Since then I have done 315 dead lifts, shoulder shrugs 315, but bench press will take longer,I am at 145 slow and easy.What can I do for shoulder warm ups to incress range of motion. I do warm ups before I work my shoulders.

  2. TC Says:

    Thanks Jerry for sharing your shoulder warm up routine. Like you, I got quite a dodgy shoulder and definitely need a warm up routine. I tried your routine and felt great. Thanks again!

  3. Jerry Shreck Says:

    Wow, that sounds like an awesome run and power lifting career. At this stage and the many years of lifting your normal warm-up routine might need tweaked a bit. I would suggest trying some of the movements and exercises that I shared in this post. Keep what you think is working for you and trying different movements and then put together the warm-up routine that seems to work well for you. That is exactly how I came up with this one that I shared with Jedd and all the loyal diesel crew followers.

  4. Jerry Shreck Says:

    Thanks for the comment. This routine has been very beneficial for me and like I stated my shoulders have never felt better. Keep us posted and if you added anything you felt was beneficial. Glad I could share it with you!

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