We are now at the end of October and I only have 2 months left to complete a muscle up. I've still been doing strength training aimed at completing a muscle up once a week. However I have not attempted a single muscle up since the initial attempt back in February. And the reason is pretty simple my shoulder mobility sucks. After talking to a trainer who cautioned me against it and also listening to podcasts with ex US team gymnastics coach Sommer, I've decided that the chance for injury in my current state of mobility is much too high.
Tim Ferris Podcasts with Coach Sommer
Basically my shoulder extension is terrible. If you've been following my trials and tribulations with touching my toes I guess this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Also the fact that I've spent many years sitting and working on a computer, and driving a car with my shoulders hunched over it really shouldn't be a surprise to me either. So my primary focus right now at least for this particular goal is fixing my shoulder mobility.
And if you've been working in an office for a long time you likely have the same problem. If you're curious where you stack up, simply stand straight up with your arms at your side and raise them above your head. Can you get them to vertical or like me do they seemingly stop moving at a 45 degree angle. Kind of a terrible picture but here is where I'm currently at and that is a huge improvement from where I was.
So what strategies am I using to restore my shoulder mobility?
Hanging. I do a lot of hanging from bars, branches, whatever I can find. Whether its at the gym or the kids playground I don't miss an opportunity to just hang. This is a fantastic way to stretch your shoulders. If you're just starting out start with your feet lightly touching the ground or on a box to support you and work your way up to a full weighted hang. My goal for this is a 2 minute hang. I've added about 30 seconds in the last 6 months and I'm at 1 minute 30 seconds for my best to date.
Supine Shoulder Extension. Sit down on the floor and place your hands palms down behind you as close together as is comfortable, then shift your hips forward and stretch the shoulders. Watching TV is a perfect time to do this.
Table Rocks. Squeeze your shoulder blades and push your hips to the sky, or in my case just off the ground.
Gymnastic Bodies - Mobility desk workers table rocks
Notice how low my hips are still and this is an improvement from where I started.
Shoulder Dislocates. Use a wooden dowel, pvc pipe or belt for this. Start with a wide enough grip that it is comfortable to get up and over your shoulders. Don't push it, over time you will want to start narrowing your grip. Don't rush the progression, it feels a little disconcerting the first time you do it and start as wide as possible, get a longer dowel or pipe if necessary.
Notice how wide I have to grip the dowel just to get it over my head, I literally have one finger on the end. I found my pecs were also incredibly tight on this exercise as well. Lots of work to do here.
Wall Slides. This is my go to shoulder exercise for breaks at work as it gets the fewest strange looks.
Finally I'm changing my 2016 goal from doing a muscle up to doing a free standing 30 second hand stand. The handstand will also require shoulder extension so that doesn't change but should be a little more realistic and much less likely to incur injury than the explosive muscle up. Also I think it is a good stepping stone to ultimately do a muscle up in the future. I just started the handstand work so its highly unlikely I'll have anything by the end of the year but I'll post an update of the training I'm doing and where I'm at then.