So I have a bit of shoulder impingement in my right shoulder and I am trying to do some shoulder and rotator cuff stabilization exercises to stregthen and loosen those muscles as Kelly Starrett suggests in this podcast. I am starting out with a relatively low weight, a 25lb kettlebell holding for 3 minutes, twice on each side. I figure that after some practice I will work up to a turkish get up, which seems to be a broader shoulder stability exercise.

My question was, how do I know that I am actually strengthening these muscles using the static holds? I can't seem to figure out how much weight and how many sets I should do. Should I feel sore after a day or something? Should I just hold the kettlebell for like about 70% of my max duration? Should I be increasing the static hold duration each workout or each week?

I want to make sure I start out slowly, so I don't aggravate my shoulder. But I also want to be able to measure my progress. Thanks.

  • Are you self diagnosed? – rrirower Nov 2 '15 at 14:19
  • Yeah, I figured it out for myself. But, I am actually going to my physical therapy person today to get it checked out as well. However, if you have any answers to the OP, I would love to hear your suggestions. – krishnab Nov 2 '15 at 15:37
  • I've had RC repair. If I were you, I'd wait to hear what the PT has to say before doing any exercises for the RC. You run the risk of causing more damage. – rrirower Nov 2 '15 at 15:39
  • Cool, thanks for the suggestion. I will definitely follow what your advice. I have this clicking in my shoulder when I do a shoulder press or raise my hand laterally. So that is where I got the idea. It was bothering me over the weekend, and I wanted to see if anyone had some suggestions over the weekend before I met my PT person. – krishnab Nov 2 '15 at 15:48
  • So I actually went to my PT and she cleared me for any rotator cuff problems. She did an evaluation, and did not find any issues. I told her I still had a little click when I lifted my arm, but we are just going to monitor it and work on strengthening my shoulders. She gave me a couple of exercises to practice. So I guess the original post still stands. I just need to understand what the correct level of shoulder exercise should be--enough to strengthen my shoulders but not so much that I overdo it. Guess I will just start small and keep working on it. – krishnab Nov 4 '15 at 4:15

To strengthen your shoulders, I recommend overhead barbell presses. Consider performing (after appropriate warm-up sets) three sets of five (3x5) presses, during two to three workouts per week, increasing the work-weight by an appropriate amount (say, 1kg to 2.5kg) at each workout. Your first press workout will involve both learning the movement and working up to an appropriate initial weight, that is, a weight that you can press 3x5. Given that you can hold a 25lb kettlebell overhead for three minutes per arm, your initial work-weight (after starting with the empty bar, and learning the movement) might be as much as 55lb.

Barbell presses are a more-quantifiable way to increase your shoulder strength than static kettlebell holds, which merely increase your endurance, rather than your strength, after an initial modest strength increase.

Be sure to press correctly. In particular, be sure to shrug at the top of the press so that you avoid shoulder impingement.

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