RTS Coaching: Reaching vs. Shrugging


While everybody and their mother likes to talk about the bench press, I’m a huge believer in focusing on reaching exercises to keep my athletes healthy and strong.

In fact, if you’ve reviewed my Physical Preparation 101 DVD’s, you’ll remember that I break all of my upper body movements down into reaching and rowing variations.

The bench press, based on the muscles it trains and the unique lack of movement at the scapulae, lands somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum.

While choosing the right exercises is a great first step, unfortunately, many of your clients will not reach appropriately when starting out.

In this short video, I’m going to demonstrate the difference between reaching and shrugging. It may seem simple, but I guarantee many of your clients and athletes will struggle differentiating between the two!

Here are a few quick bullet points that will help as well:

  • In a shrug, the shoulder comes closer to the ear. One of my favorite Gray Cook quotes is that “ears are shoulder poison.” In other words, you shouldn’t need to shrug excessively to reach or go overhead!
  • In a reach, think about allowing the scapula(e) to move or glide around the rib cage.
  • Another way to think of a reach is to open up the mid-back area.
  • Last but not least, this cue works great on all reaching exercises – these would include (but aren’t limited to): Landmine pressing variations, push-up variations, and overhead pressing variations.

It may sound simple, but teaching your clients to reach versus shrug will make a significant impact on how they move and feel.

Stay strong



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