5 Kung Fu Strengthening Drills (SHOULDER MOBILITY)

October 25, 2017 by VAHVA Fitness

Kung fu style strengthening exercises for shoulders done with nothing but free arm movements. Combination of body stability and shoulder mobility!

Weights are useful and they have been utilized probably for millenniums by martial artists, but when you look into many martial arts, a great deal of strengthening is done mostly with bodyweight.

Many forms in kung fu or tai chi are about learning how to coordinate and utilize the body.

The mind controls the muscles and the muscles control how you move. Technique is nothing but learning how to utilize the muscles for the wanted purpose.

Similarly to many kung fu forms, these "kung fu" strengthening exercises are all about learning how to contract the right muscles while keeping the rest of the body stable and still.

In these movements you need to focus on 2 things:

  • Pure shoulder movement.
  • Stabilizing and keeping the scapula, core and hips still.

In many ways these are full body movements but the effects in body parts are just different. You will be working on shoulder mobility and scapula/core/hip stability.

Why is stabilizing the body so important? Without correct stabilization you won't be working the shoulders 100%. The body is supposed to neutralize the movement generated by the shoulders and this makes the shoulders work a lot harder.

The only way to truly isolate any body part (whether it is here or in bodybuilding) is to stabilize the rest of the body and focus on pure muscle activation in the targeted body part (in this case shoulders).

To do these exercises "right" you need to only move the shoulder joint and keep the rest of the body still. Otherwise these drills won't be effective.

This means that you are not shrugging or protracting your shoulders (or generating excess force with the scapula).  Your body also shouldn't shake too much when you do the shoulder movements (focus on body stabilization).

With every movement you move the arm by contracting the targeted muscle. You can do this if you have practiced mind-muscle connection.

Cues for the kung fu exercises:

  • Shoulder pulses: keep the scapula intact and focus purely on contracting the lateral (side) and anterior (front) deltoids.
  • Air flyes: your pectoralis muscles move the arms forward, posterior deltoids move the arms backwards.
  • Shoulder rotations: your rotator cuff rotates the shoulder - this is a very novel movement!

This is a very effective form of training and if you do these exercises right, you should feel an immense burning sensation in your shoulders.

This is similar qualitative training to what we talked about in the previous post - you are solely focusing on the body and not on any external factor (like weight, reps, progressions).

You will learn to control the body and use the mind to contract the right muscles. This will be helpful in all training, martial arts and will promote healthy biomechanics which will the body healthy in the long term.

Train hard, stay safe.



samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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