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Gymnast Shoulder Exercises

author image Brian Willett
Brian Willett began writing in 2005. He has been published in the "Buffalo News," the "Daytona Times" and "Natural Muscle Magazine." Willett also writes for Bloginity.com and Bodybuilding.com. He is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer and earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of North Carolina.
Gymnast Shoulder Exercises
A woman is doing bench dips. Photo Credit Antonio_Diaz/iStock/Getty Images


Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport, with a wide variety of events that demand high levels of athletic ability, balance and strength. While the sport requires both upper and lower body strength, it is often the upper body that is charged with the task of supporting all of your weight. For that reason, having strong, flexible shoulders is a must.

Upright Rows

Numbered among a list of list of 13 shoulder exercises for gymnasts in "The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Gymnastics" are the upright rows. Grip a barbell with your hands spread eight inches apart, and hold the barbell in front of your thighs. Raise the bar up to your chin, just skimming past your body on the way up. Keep your back straight throughout. Lower the bar slowly back to the starting position. The upright rows also work your traps and biceps.

Lateral Shoulder Raise

The lateral shoulder raise is an effective exercise for shoulder strength whether you're a gymnast or not. To perform lateral shoulder raises, stand with your feet at shoulder width and dumbbells in both hands, down at your sides. Slowly raise the dumbbells as high as you can with your arms held straight. At the top of your range of motion, slowly reverse the motion. The standing lateral raise can also be accompanied by the bent-over lateral raise and cable lateral raise according to "The Ultimate Guide to Weight Training for Gymnastics."


Dips are also included in gymnastics workouts, because the movement of this exercise is similar to many movements in gymnastics. Dips can be performed on a bench or a Roman Chair -- the piece of equipment with arm rests and a back but no seat. To perform bench dips, place one bench behind you and one in front of you. Place your hands on the bench behind you while facing away from it, and extend your legs fully to rest on the bench in front of you. Slowly lower yourself as far as you can before reversing the motion.

Military Press

The military press isn't just for those in the armed forces. This exercise is similar to the movement trained in the handstand pushup, except you're seated and right side up. To perform the military press, sit on a weight bench with dumbbells down at your sides. In one swift motion, bring the dumbbells up to your shoulders. Push the dumbbells upward until your arms are straight, and then slowly lower them to your shoulders and repeat the motion. According to an analysis by strength and conditioning specialist Bret Contreras, the military press is one of the most effective exercises for building shoulder strength.

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