Skin the Cat for Better Mobility

by TJ Kuster

Do this before you do overhead pressing exercises for better shoulder mobility. Bonus: It builds a strong core too.

Heavy presses can place a tremendous amount of pressure on the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and lower back. To be able to successfully press overhead you need adequate shoulder mobility, as well as a strong core.

One movement that will help you achieve both is the old-timey “skin the cat” exercise. This movement allows for a great shoulder stretch through a full range of motion, decompresses the spine, and serves as a great core strengthener. Try doing this exercise before your next pressing day to prepare your shoulders for heavy lifting.

Note: Using rings or a TRX-style setup allows for more range of motion than using a bar. The rings let your shoulders move more naturally.

How to Do It

  • Start from a dead hang position with your hands turned out.
  • Keep your arms and legs straight and engage your lats and core as you flex your hips, bringing your thighs towards your chest.
  • Continue bringing your feet all the way through past your arms so that you go upside down.
  • Keep your core engaged as you lower your feet back towards the ground. Optional: Rotate the palms out for a greater stretch at the end of the movement.
  • Once you’ve come to a dead stop, bring your thighs to your chest and lift your hips back towards the ceiling.
  • Bring your feet through your arms so that you come back into a dead hang position with your palms turned out.
  • Going over and back counts as one rep.


Knees Bent

Stretches Only