WORST Bodyweight Exercises for the Shoulder

The video we shared below 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 in 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, I wanted to go through 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 are three exercises that people are doing at home or in the gym that are leading to injuries and damaging their shoulders. This becomes a big issue for a lot of people, especially guys who are focusing on upper body work. And when you end up injuring your shoulder, it’s difficult to do upper body work and often people end up abandoning their workouts because they don’t want to do a lower body workout.

Watch this video and learn about the 3 bodyweight exercises you should avoid to decrease the likelihood of injuring your shoulders. Also, I will show you ways to correct 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 am able to continue on with this video.

WORST Bodyweight Exercises for the Shoulder – Part 2

CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video.

Bodyweight exercises are easy to do. You can do them anywhere because all you require is your body weight and perhaps some other props to assist with the movements. Today, I will share 3 exercises that put a lot of stress on the shoulders, increase your risk of a shoulder injury, and can irritate an old shoulder injury.

#1 – Tricep Dip

I am going to use a chair here, but often this can be done with a bench in a gym setting.  You can go through this movement with your legs straight or slightly bent. When I go through this movement, I am lowering down and pushing back up, lowering down and pushing back up.

tricep Dip

Tricep Dip

Now with this exercise, the normal range of motion 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 the shoulders and it also takes the shoulder blades and tilts them forward. This ends up mashing up all the tissues in the shoulders, specifically the rotator cuffs.

Narrow Grip Push Up (alternative)

An alternative that you can do is the Narrow Grip Push Up.

Narrow Grip Push Up

Narrow Grip Push Up

I place my hands underneath my shoulders. I can go from the knees or the feet, and I lower down and press up. The elbows are tight to me. My arms are tight to me. I have a good grip with the hands. I am lowering down to the floor and pressing back up. I am working the chest, or the pushing muscles, but also really isolating the tricep muscles.

#2 – Crab Walk

This is a bodyweight cardio exercise that you often see people doing with the increased popularity of Crossfit. How it works is I am reaching back and I am walking backwards with my hands.

Crab Walk

Crab Walk

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

Now, there might be a sports performance reason that you do the exercise, but for the average person, it’s not an exercise that I recommend.

Bear Crawl (alternative)

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

Bear Crawl

Bear Crawl

This is a far better exercise for the shoulders because now you are placing the load through the arms. The load through the arms activates the rotator cuff muscles, which is what we want to do. By activating those scapular muscles, the shoulders are being put in a good position for strengthening. Plus, that alternating arms and legs movement is a pattern that we want to promote and encourage because that is how the body naturally moves.

#3 – Kipping Pull Up

I am not going to be able to demonstrate this. 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 pull ups in a shorter period of time. This momentum puts a lot of stress on the shoulders. If you have a previous injury, it’s not exactly the best exercise to do.

Chin Up (alternative)

A better alternative is to go with the standard Chin Up. Grab the bar with your grip about shoulder-width apart and your palms facing inward. Keep your elbows close to your body. Pull yourself up and lower yourself back down.

Chin Up

Chin Up

With this exercise you won’t be able to complete as many repetitions as you can with the Kipping Pull Up, but it is a lot better for your shoulders. You are able to keep your body in good alignment. Your arms are close to your body and that is a good power position for your shoulders.

There you go! Those are the 3 Worst Bodyweight Exercises for your Shoulders. If you are looking at doing any type of bodyweight Tricep exercises, 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 Chin Ups a go. Those better alternatives.

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

Bodyweight Corrective Exercises

Rick Kaselj, MS