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Off Season Swim Training - 3 Exercises to Strengthen the Shoulders

     With the multisport season winding down in most areas of the US many triathletes are now thinking of working on improving their swim stroke, and will be spending more time in the pool over the winter months.
     To help you strengthen your shoulders and lessen risk of an overuse injury here are three exercises, shared by trainer LaRue E. Cook of LEC Fitness through Active.com Fitness , to strengthen those shoulders.

#1 "Empty the Can"
This exercise will help work the muscles of your upper back and shoulders. These muscles are instrumental in raising your arm in overhead movements. I recommend using a light weight for this exercise, from two to five pounds.
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, with relaxed knees (your "relaxed stance"). Hold a single dumbbell in your hand. Place your thumb-side against your thigh.

Lift your arm up and out at about a 45-degree angle from your body, pointing your thumb-side down toward the ground as you lift. Think of pouring out a can of soda. Keep your wrist firm (don't bend it as you exercise).

Lift up to shoulder height, pause for a second or two, and then return to the starting position.

Tip: Don't have a small weight at home? Use an actual can of soup or a filled water jug with a handle.

#2 "Draw the Sword"
This is a good exercise for the rotator cuff, one of the shoulder's potential trouble spots.

Start in your "relaxed stance" as mentioned earlier. Place a light dumbbell in one hand and place that hand, palm down, on the opposite thigh (for example, put the thumb of your right hand on your left thigh). Keep your arm straight throughout this exercise.

Draw your arm across your body (out and up to above your opposite shoulder). Once your hand has reached a level above your shoulder, return to your starting position.

Perform this exercise slowly. Complete 12 repetitions, and make sure you switch arms.

#3 "Medicine Ball "Alphabet"This is a great exercise to put your shoulder muscles through a full range of motion. This one can be tough, so start out just by going partially through the alphabet, and then work your way up to the full A through Z.

You'll need a medicine ball for this exercise, but don't worry if you don't have access to one. Use something like a gallon jug that's partially to completely full, or fill a bag with sand and weigh it (say one to four pounds, depending on your shoulder strength).

Start in a "relaxed stance." Take the medicine ball and support it in both hands out in front of your body.

Maintain a slight bend to your elbows throughout this exercise.


Start "drawing" the alphabet one letter at a time. You do this by rotating your arms,
from the shoulders only, in the pattern of the specific letter, starting with the letter A. Make nice big, full letters with big motion so that your shoulders get lots of work and a full range of motion.

When you first start doing this exercise, it's best to start with a very light weight (say one or two pounds at the most) to see how your shoulders tolerate this exercise. Your letters should range no higher than your head, and no lower than your waist. All letters are formed out in front of your body. Keep those arms straight, with just a slight bend at the elbows.

As with all exercise programs, always check with your physician and a certified conditioning specialist before undertaking any of these exercises.

For more information on LaRue E. Cook and his training programs visit lecfitness.com

1 comment:

  1. I saw this article too, of course I have numb arm right now, so I'll have to wait to try them. The alphabet med ball looks fun to me.