Quick and Easy Shoulder Health Test

We all know that shoulder health is important for rugby and lifting in general. Shoulder injuries are common in rugby and it is important that we do preventive exercises to keep them injury proof! But what if your training is predisposing you to injury? Read on to learn about the Shoulder Health Test…

Balance for Shoulder Health

A general rule of thumb when it comes to upper body training is that you match the volume of pulling movements with pushing movements. It should make sense that if you balance the muscles around the shoulder joint it will be in a good position to resist injury. The problem is that due to peoples love of the Bench Press and the goal of a bigger chest people often overlook this.

If you already have an imbalance you will need to perform a greater volume of pulling exercises compared to pushing. You can either perform extra reps and sets or add in extra pulling exercises. Instead of doing 2 pushing exercises and 2 pulling do 1 pushing and 3 pulling at least until you have developed the desired balance.

But how do you know if your shoulder muscles are balanced?!?

The Shoulder Health Test

All you need to do is to figure out you 1RM Bench Press and your 3RM Close Grip Chin Up (including bodyweight).

The goal is for your 3RM Chin to equal your 1RM Bench Press. If you are within 90% thats not too bad but you may want to include some more pulling volume. If you are less than 90% you are at risk and need to drastically increase your pulling exercises and could really benefit from using some of these preventive exercises too: Rugby Proof Shoulders

Here’s an example to illustrate:

Joe Bloggs

Bodyweight: 90kg

Bench 1RM: 140kg

Chin Up 3RM: 32kg + 90 = 122kg

122/140 x 100 = 87% 

Joe needs to get pulling!

Establishing RM

Now you don’t have to cancel your latest training programme to test your rep maximums. If you are following the Rugby Renegade Programme you will be regularly doing heavy sets of Bench Press and Chins, so you can just use your heaviest sets and use the following formula to work out your 1RM or 3RM:

1RM Calculation

Weight x Reps x 0.0333 + Weight = 1RM

3RM Calculation

Weight x Reps x 0.0333 + Weight = 1RM

1RM / 100 x 93 = 3RM

(don’t forget to include your bodyweight for chins!)


So there you have it, a simple way to use your current training data to assess the muscle balance in your shoulder. Now you can easily see if you need to work harder on injury prevention and muscle balance or whether your training is going in the right direction. Test your shoulder health now and get pulling if you need to!

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