Failure to mobilize your shoulders could result in death!

Jake Blog, Training Tips

Now that we’ve got your attention!

In my years coaching, I’ve heard tons of people in the gym begging to do things like kipping pull-ups, butterfly pull-ups, snatches for time or handstand push-ups, who can’t even put their hands over their head without pain.

Hopefully you’ve been assessed by a coach before starting with overhead movements, if not here’s a simple test you can perform yourself.

If you can’t pass this test, you shouldn’t be kipping your pull-ups, and probably shouldn’t even be getting upside down. Ask your coach what might be better exercises for you, and how you can mobilize the joint to move better.

Here’s the simple shoulder flexion test, similar to the Wall Angel warm-up we do:

• Set yourself up with your back against the wall and feet shoulder width apart

• Bend your knees a bit until you can get your tailbone, lower back and shoulder blades against the wall. Keep your head neutral.

• From there, with a STRAIGHT arm, raise one hand over your head. Make sure you keep your butt, lower back and shoulder blades against the wall the whole time.

How far can you get your arm? This determines your readiness for overhead movements like snatches and kipping pull-ups.


RED LIGHT (Meaning STOP, you’re not yet ready): You cannot touch the wall while maintaining the three points of contact on the wall (tailbone, low back, shoulder blades).

YELLOW LIGHT (Proceed with caution): You can get your thumb to the wall while maintaining all points of contact.

GREEN LIGHT (Go overhead to your hearts content!): You can get the back of your hand and the back of your wrist to touch the wall.

Here are some pictures, so you can see what I mean:




If you fail the test, before you get all discouraged because you now know you shouldn’t be doing kipping pull-ups, relax and know that you can work to improve this range of motion. Yes, it takes hard work, but nothing worthwhile comes for free. You can’t fast track fitness

Talk to your coach about getting you on the right track: Putting in the time and reaching that yellow or green light will be incredibly rewarding, and your body will thank you for taking the time to gain the mobility so you can stay injury-free.

I’ll see you in health!