WORST Bodyweight Exercises for the Shoulder

The below video is funny.

I got in trouble from security while I was filming videos in Las Vegas.

Enjoy the article and the very funny video.

Rick Kaselj, MS


I am down here at Las Vegas at a Fitness Mastermind. Mike and I woke up early so we decided to head outside and do some videos for you. In this video, what I wanted to go through was the Worst Bodyweight Exercises for your Shoulders.

WORST Bodyweight Exercises for the Shoulder – Part 1

CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video.

Bodyweight exercises are really becoming popular and I see more and more people doing them in the gym or even working out at home without any equipment. But there is this three exercises that people are doing at home or in the gym that really are leading to injury and damage to your shoulders. And this becomes a big issue for a lot of people especially guys who are focusing in on the upper body work. And when you end up injuring your shoulder, it’s difficult to do the upper body work and oftentimes they end up abandoning their workout because they don’t want to do a lower body workout.

Watch this video and see the 3 bodyweight exercises that you should avoid for your shoulder. Also, I will show you ways of fixing those exercises. This is a continuation of the video that I started in Las Vegas with Mike Whitfield. We had to stop filming because security approached us and let us know we cannot film on a private property. Now I am back home and I am going to continue on with this video. What I was going through in that other video and I will finish off in this video is the Worst Bodyweight Exercises for your Shoulders.

WORST Bodyweight Exercises for the Shoulder – Part 2

CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video.

Bodyweight exercises are awesome. They are easy to do. You can do them anywhere because pretty much all you require is your bodyweight and maybe some other props to help you get through the exercises. Now I wanted to go through with the 3 exercises that I really don’t like that put a lot of stress on the shoulders that increase your risk of a shoulder injury and can irritate an old shoulder injury.

#1 – Tricep Dip

I am just going to use is the chair here but a lot of times this could be done with a bench in a gym setting. I am grabbing the chair. I can have full straight legs or slightly bent legs and what I am doing is I am coming down and back up, coming down and back up.

tricep Dip

Tricep Dip

Now with this exercise, the normal movement in the shoulder is from here to about 45 degrees.

Normal Movement of the Shoulders at 45 degrees

Normal movement of the shoulders at 45 degrees

When you are bringing those elbows further back and going past 45 degrees, it puts a lot more stress on that shoulder and it also takes that shoulder blade and tilts it forward and it ends up mashing up all the tissues in the shoulders specifically the rotator cuff.

Narrow Grip Push Up (alternative)

An alternative that you do, I would recommend cutting out that tricep dip exercise and trying this Narrow Grip Push Up exercise.

Narrow Grip Push Up

Narrow Grip Push Up

Once again, its bodyweight and what I am doing is my hands are underneath the shoulders. I can go from the knees and the feet and I am coming down and I am pressing up. The elbows are tight to me, arms are tight to me. I have a good grip with the hands. I am coming down to the floor and back up. I am working the chest or the pushing muscles but then also really isolating more those tricep muscles as well.

#2 – Crab Walk

This is a bodyweight cardio exercise that you will see people doing and with the increased popularity of Crossfit. You are starting to see more and more people go through this exercise. How it works is I am reaching back and I am walking backwards with the hands.

Crab Walk

Crab Walk

I can have the fingers pointed wherever I want but with the Crab Walk it is just like the Tricep Dip. You know what’s normal range of motion for people is. When you start going more than 45 degrees, it puts unnecessary stress on the shoulder. That unnecessary stress can lead to an injury. It can lead to a re-injury and could increase the risk of a future injury so it is really not worth doing that exercise.

Now there might be a sports performance reason that you do the exercise so in some special cases you might be doing that exercise. But for the average person, it’s not an exercises that I give.

Bear Crawl (alternative)

This is a better exercise that you can do. I am in a four point position. I am going to lift up the knees and what I am going to do is alternate arms and legs.

Bear Crawl

Bear Crawl

This is a way better exercise for the shoulder because now you are putting load through the arms which is excellent. The load through the arms activates the rotator cuff muscles which is what we want to do, we always want to work on them. And then also activating those scapular muscles or those shoulder blade muscles which is excellent and the shoulder is being put in a good position, in a position that you want to train and strengthen it. Plus that alternating arms and legs is kind of a pattern that we want to promote and encourage because that is how the body naturally ends up moving.

#3 – Kipping Pull Up

I am not going to be able to demonstrate it. It is difficult to describe it but it has become very popular with the rise in Crossfit. It is a way of building momentum in order to do more and more pull ups in a shorter period of time. This momentum puts a lot of stress on the shoulder. If you have a previous injury, it’s not exactly the best exercise to do. It puts a lot of stress on the shoulder

Chin Up (alternative)

A better alternative is once again, if you are an average person or if you have a previous injury or you have funny shoulders is to leave out that Kipping Pull Up and switch it over and go with the Chin Up. You just have a bar and then you are grab the bar about shoulder width apart, elbows are close to the body. You are pulling yourself up and then you are coming back down, pulling yourself up and back down.

Chin Up

Chin Up

With this one you are not able to get as much work in or repetitions as you can in a Kipping Pull Up but it is a lot better for the shoulder. You are able to keep the body in nice and good alignment. The arms are close to the body and that is a good power position for the shoulder and then you are working on all the muscles in that shoulder with the shoulder in a good position.

There you go! Those are the 3 Worst Bodyweight Exercises for your Shoulders. If you are looking at doing any type of bodyweight Tricep exercise like a Tricep Dip, make sure to switch it up with the Narrow Grip Push Up. If you are looking at doing any kind of Crab walking, switch it up for that Bear Crawl. And then thirdly, if you are doing any Kipping Pull Ups, switch it up and give the Chin Ups a go. Those are being better alternatives.

Now if you are looking for a more tips like the above, then check out Bodyweight Corrective Exercises, here:

Bodyweight Corrective Exercises

Rick Kaselj, MS