Good Exercises for Athletes



The shoulder is an incredible joint capable of a brilliant range of movement, and when properly trained, huge feats of strength and stability. This strength is crucial for any of you that participate in any high-intensity upper body dominant strength sports eg Rugby or Olympic weightlifting. Therefore, in order to train for these higher intensity sports, more complex exercises are needed to stabilise the shoulder throughout the movement. I am going to go through some of the exercises I use in my routine to help with my shoulders, going from easiest to hardest.

Easy: Wall Presses 

This is a brilliant exercise for strengthening your shoulder as well as improving the mobility of any overhead pressing exercises. To perform this exercise, lean back against a wall flattening your lower back against the surface. From here keeping both elbows tucked into your side as much as possible, turn your palms up to face the ceiling. This is a very similar position to the bottom position of a shoulder press. From this position slowly take both of your arms overhead keeping both your elbows and fingertips in contact with the wall and reverse to come back down. Repeat 5x as slowly as possible.

Medium: Snow Angels

This is a brilliant exercise for switching on muscles that you will not have used for a long time namely the lower trapezius fibres, one of the largest and most undertrained muscles in our upper backs. This exercise is brilliant for any overhead sports like swimming, rugby and Olympic lifting. To perform this exercise lay face down on a bench or on the floor, stretch both hands above your head into a diving position. From there lift both hands off the floor and start moving your hand down towards your waist keeping your arm straight, almost like you’re are creating two large semicircles either side of your body. From reverse, the movement to take your hands back over your head to complete the repetition. Repeat 10x again as slowly as possible.

Hard: Zots Press 

This is the hardest of the exercises that I am going to show you and is very specific to Olympic lifting but can be used for any gym user to boost the stability of your shoulders. The Zots Press is what we call a compound exercise, so it uses your entire body. To perform this exercise first start with a wooden pole to accustom yourself to the movement, you can start to use a barbell to increase the difficulty of the exercise.

First sit in the bottom of a squat, with the bar across your back, chest and chin as upright as possible. From this position staying in the deep squat press both hands above your head trying to make the bar travel vertically so it stays over the line of your feet hold for 2 seconds then slowly lower the bar back onto your back. Repeat 10x being strict with your positioning.

Thank you for reading,

George Stacey-Stevens

Physiotherapist at the Markland Clinic  

PS – If you’d like to book an appointment at the clinic with myself or any other physio, please give us a call on  01285 654059 or email us at and we’ll be happy to help!

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