Move of the Week: Med Ball Shoulder Flexion in Dead Bug

Hopefully, you guys had an awesome Memorial Day weekend. Here’s the 7th edition of Move of the Week to get you back on track!

THE MOVE: Med Ball Shoulder Flexion in Dead Bug

MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Corrective: abs, shoulders.

WHY DO IT: This edition of Move of the Week is a little different from those in the past. All the prior editions of this blog series have featured strength exercises that we like to utilize in our main programming, and I think it’s about time we introduced some exercises that don’t fall into this category. Expect more of these going forward. We typically use them as correctives or warm-ups, but needless to say they are no less important!

So here is one of these exercises: the Med Ball Shoulder Flexion in Dead Bug. We often find that people have trouble with exercises that require them to go overhead, like the overhead press or even the snatch, the latter of which we’ve discussed previously here. Once again, in order to perform these overhead movements, one must possess the proper balance of mobility, stability, and motor control. In this context, it is likely that you lack one or more of these qualities. As a simple example, just think about how much easier a goblet squat is than an overhead squat.

This Move will help you out in the overhead department. The supine position means that you’ll have gravity to help you go into shoulder flexion. This effect is compounded by the additional weight provided by the medicine ball. But it also adds an additional challenge. As your arms go further overhead and the ball further away from your torso, the position becomes harder and harder to control. You’ll really have to fight to keep your ribs from flaring out and your lower back from extending, which are common compensations that allow people to demonstrate “false” shoulder flexion. The dead bug in this instance helps you get into this proper torso positioning.

HOW TO DO IT: We like to use this exercise as a corrective or a warm-up. In this vein, practice makes perfect, and this is not an exercise in which you want the medicine ball to be insanely heavy (I’m using an 8-lb ball here, for reference). I’d recommend higher reps here, so 2-3 sets of 10 reps would be appropriate. This would work especially well in a superset as a filler exercise between sets of a strength exercise. You can use it as a mobility filler that doesn’t interfere with the demands of the strength exercise, like the front squat, or as a something that can help drive the main exercise, like the overhead press. The possibilities are endless here depending on your needs.

Lie in a supine position with the knees and feet up in a 90/90 position and with a medicine ball in your hands at chest level. With you core braced and ribs down, slowly bring the ball up and over your head towards the floor. Exhale deeply as you do so to create more core engagement, and keep the lower body stationary. Bring the ball back up to the starting position and repeat.

Once again be sure to keep your core braced and your spine neutral; only then can you display your true overhead mobility, and you might find that you have less than you thought. If anything, you should feel the muscles in the back of your shoulders working and not discomfort in the front.

If you find that you have trouble bringing your arms overhead under load during exercise, this Move of the Week can help! Let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau Halevy Life Staff CoachJeremy Lau is a Staff Coach at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and is currently pursuing his M.Ed. in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.