7 Ways To Strengthen The Shoulders

Swimming is among the most popular low-impact fitness activities, with more than a million competitive and recreational swimmers just with in the United States. Elite swimmers can train up to or even more than five miles a day, putting their joints through extreme repetitive motion. The most common swimming injuries happen in the shoulders, knees, hips, or back, depending on the stroke.

The shoulder is the joint that is most commonly afflicted with injury by swimming. Shoulder injuries can include rotator cuff impingement, which is pressure on the rotator cuff from part of the shoulder-blade or scapula as the arm is lifted. Biceps tendonitis (painful inflammation of the bicep tendon) and shoulder instability, in which structures that surround the shoulder joint do not work to maintain the ball within its socket, all can result from fatigue and weakness of the rotator cuff and muscles surrounding the shoulder-blade.

A way to prevent these injuries from occurring is strengthen the shoulders. Here is an amazing workout that will both challenge you, strengthen your shoulders, and prevent them from succumbing to an injuries that may occur:

Superset 1: x5 = 60 reps

  1. Seated Arnold Press – 10 reps
  2. Seated Dumbbell Press (same weights) – 5 reps

Superset 2: x 5 sets = 100 reps

  1. Dumbbell Lateral Raises (heavier weight) – 10 reps
  2. Dumbbell Lateral Raises (lighter raises) – 10 reps

Rear Delt Cable Crossovers: 10 x10 = 100 reps

Upright Row Pyramid: x3 = 90 reps

  1. Barbell Upright Row (heavy weight) – 10 reps
  2. Barbell Upright Row – drop weight 30% – 10 reps
  3. Barbell Upright Row – drop 30% weight again – 10 reps

Superset 3: x5 = 100 reps

  1. Cable Single Lateral Raises – 10 reps each arm
  2. Cable Single Front Raises – 10 reps each arm

Barbell Military Strict Press: 10 reps x 5  = 50 reps

500 total reps



For more exercises to strengthen the shoulders, click here.

Note: When deciding what weight will help benefit you the most, it is up to you and how your body feels, and determine what will weight will work and how much of the workout you can actually complete. Not every workout will benefit each swimmer in the same way. Doing less of a workout may be more beneficial for some people while doing more will benefit others as well. Make sure to listen to you body and do what feels right. 


  1. “Become an Advocate for Sports Safety.” Swimming Injuries. Stop Sports Injuries, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.
  2. Morelli, Michael, Jr. “Sculpt Your Shoulders – Workout with Kristen.” Morellifit. Morellifit, 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

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8 years ago

Couple things:

1. “sculpting shoulders” as a reference sure sounds like bodybuilding/”toning” and not strengthening. What may be good for the average Joe may not be good for swimmers.
2. strengthening shoulders starts with proper posture, something that can be taught but constantly needs corrective exercises.
3. Strengthening reduces mobility, which is super important for swimmers (obviously). Would have liked to see more on that.
4. The last note. Its up to how you feel? How about starting at a low weight, doing everything correctly, and then moving up in weight? Everyone wants to show off in the gym and do the most amount of weight they can, but if your form is bad you’re increasing your… Read more »

About Emilee White

Emilee White

My name is Emilee White and I grew up in Canyon Lake, California. I began swimming at the age of 13 in age group, but with my background of dance, swimming came naturally to me and I excelled in the sport. I swam all four years on my high school …

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