Video: "Keep your shoulders down" is often cued in the strength training world because doing so keeps your body and shoulders in a structurally sound position to put up big weights during movements like rows, bench presses, or even push-ups. This simple drill will help teach you greater shoulder awareness.
The cue typically refers to keeping your shoulder blades pulled back and tucked down, as if you're driving them into the floor. It also lifts your chest and helps improve posture, but it's not quite immediately intuitive for everyone. In his blog post (and accompanying video), Harold Gibbons, a personal trainer based in New York, shares a simple-yet-awesome drill that he calls the "shoulder reach and roll". It's a great one to help you feel how moving your shoulders forward or even backward should be. He says:
The reach and roll shines a spotlight on those scapulae, illuminating an area of the body often left in the dark. The shoulder blade is an interesting bone, with 17 muscles working to control its movement. Rather than focus on the role of each of these, this drill drives us towards how they work together. The benefit from it is that we learn how to drive our shoulder blades up and apart. When this proceeds a set of push-ups or rows, we're better prepared to create that movement down and back.
Now once you learn to tuck your shoulders, he mentions that you don't need to lock your shoulders in place like some rigid mannequin -- just primarily when you're about to smash a personal best in the weight room. Check the video above to see the "shoulder reach and roll" drill.
This Will Make You Better: Shoulder Reach & Roll [Harold Gibbons]