Shoulder stability and strength

Over the past year I have been working on a different aspect of my strength and conditioning (S&C) regime to include some old school strength tools, the parallettes. If you don’t know what they are they look like this:

The twin bars are providing new gains for overall grip, shoulder and core strength. 

Why parallettes? For one, I’ve been a big fan of bodyweight conditioning for over 30 years as I’ve found it practical for daily life needs. Adding the parallettes have given a new dimension to training with a much lower risk of injury and much higher results on strength and body movement control off the linear patterns that conventional weight training provides (nothing wrong with that either!) but as I enjoy my boxing and jiu jitsu practice, I found learning the basic movements required using them to transfer very well over to the other disciplines.

One of the huge benefits I’ve developed are increases in shoulder pressing strength and being able to correctly engaging the lats for a pressing (up) and pressing downward movements. These gains have translated very well to jiu jitsu as it increases grip strength and overall postural strength.

For example, very often when stuck inside someone’s closed guard the first line of defense is to control your posture. That involves the use of your grips and shoulders in a downward pressing movement and requires you to tilt up your hips while clamping in your arms to the sides of your body forming a tight rectangle and maintaining upwards head position. You get to practice the same on the parallettes on a regular basis. My progress with the parallettes have been slow but the gains and improvements I have noticed over the course of the past 14 months have kept me going as it’s the “tortoise and the hare” situation; slow and steady will win the race.

Often when I chat with the members who attend my jiu jitsu classes, I am surprised that some of them don’t do any S&C to supplement their training, many opting to run and rely on their cardio. As the skill of jiu jitsu is a physical response against another person who is grabbing you in some way, surely it would be logical to address those prime needs such as working your grip strength, arm and shoulders, chest and back, core and movement skills. There’s nothing wrong with running, and that’s great to increase your aerobic threshold and I hope that this short article piques your interest to attend the other areas of your conditioning that you may have neglected. A well known jiu jitsu competitor once said about playing guard to the effect of, “if you’re arms are pushing, you’re losing the match. If you’re gripping, you’re winning.” For the boxers, having strong shoulders and protecting your knuckles via strong hand muscles will be favourable yet how many of you invest more than 10 minutes on developing them?

Winning or losing it is apparent that developing strong grips, shoulder strength to push or grip are salient aspects to develop your skills. Short of training everyday for hours on end, learning how to work on the parallettes may be a novel way to develop your grip strength and provide an alternative and fun way to improve your S&C.

Like the ad says, “before you do this or this or this, you want to have this and this and this…”


In servitude and openness,
Vince Choo