T Nation

Vertical Pulls & the Shoulder


I have been having a problem with my left shoulder that feels like an impingement. It has gotten worse over time and I have always done chin-ups as well. Recently, when I was researching "safe" shoulder exercises, someone who seemed knowledgable, said to eliminate vertical pulls to aid in recovery and avoid future shoulder issues.

As I am a real laymen with regard to anatomy/physical therapy etc., I am hoping to purchase something like "Assess & Correct", but for now I was looking for some education on whether this is a good recommendation and, if so, what lat exercises to do? Bent over rows and seated rows seem redundant (although a different grip is used, but without vertical pulls, it doesn't leave you much.

Thanks for any help.


I have been having a problem with my left shoulder that feels like an impingement.

keep describing...


No problem doing laterals, but any type of pressing movement causes a moderate stinging pain in the top of the deltoid (seated or standing with the arm bent). It almost feels like a joint does just before it wants to 'crack' (like a joint will sometimes do, i.e. cracking knuckles), but it never does. It just hurts as I press up. It began hurting like this about 5 days ago. Did chins one more time about 4 days ago. Stopped them as of now.


Sounds like a rotator cuff issues, I have the same issue doing military press since 2 weeks now.. horrible stinging pain. Let it rest for a while before making it worse.

Cuz once you ruin your shoulder its hell to recover and you can forget about training your upper body..



i thought the idea was to try and train vertical / horizontal and push / pull in a balanced fashion.

so... if you bench (horizontal push) you should try and match the number of reps with a horizontal pulling movement (some kinda row).
and if you press (e.g., military) then you should try and match the number of reps with a vertical pulling movement (chins or pullups or something).

you know, to keep things balanced.

by 'any type of pressing movement' do you mean that both vertical and horizontal presses feel impinged?

do you do any stuff for your rotator cuff? facepulls etc? internal / external rotation exercises?


Your post has just made me realise why my shoulders started hurting again lately. I havent done face pulls for awhile.

Thanks. Will add them back in.


then when you have activation you wanna incorporate that into your other pulling movements.

how is your internal / external rotation?? you might want to look into that, too.


note the most important thing: you need to use the other pulley to work the other side :-p


One of the functions of the lats is to internally rotate the shoulder. If you have shoulder issues, internal rotation is generally contributing to the issue(s). Also protracted scapulas.

Chinups (supinated grip) emphasize the lats more, pullups (pronated) are a better choice because it recruits more posterior delt, which is an external rotator; also with vertical pulling, you can only partially retract your scapulas. Facepulls and other horizontal pulling stuff is best because (done properly) there is no internal rotation involved at all, plus the retraction of the scapula is also healthy for your shoulder joint.

Military presses are tricky because unless you push the bar back above your ears, and also reach for the ceiling with the bar, you are probably (overly) internally rotating your shoulders with this exercise.

edit to add: no specialized initials after my name, just some observations from an avg. joe


There is a ton of articles on this site by Mike Robertson, Eric Cressey, Tony Gentilecore and more. Focus is on the shoulder, and there are a lot of rehab exercises and workouts that you can do to train your upperbody with a shoulder injury.

I know because I healed up my aging shoulder following their advice and canceled shoulder surgery. Shoulder is better than it has been in years.

Rubber bands, face pulls over head shrugs, rear deltoid raises, and so many more.

Tony Gentilecore suggested a 2 to 1 ratio of pulling to pushing for those that are having shoulder impingement problems. Ever since reading his article, I do 2 times the number of pulling to pushing exercises.

If I have some time, I'll dig up the old links and post them, but if you search on them, you can find them too.

This site is second to none for rehab, and what these guys unknowingly have done for me is the greatest gift I have received to my training, and shoulder health. If they did it for me, they can do it for you!

Thanks T-Nation!


Thanks very, very much for the responses. What this showed me is how much I don't know about anatomy, proper training and a balanced body. At 40 yrs. old, I think I look pretty good (cosmetically), but my 'high school gym' training education has probably led to these problems and i'm suprised I lasted this long. Probably going to utilize something like Assess & Correct and the information here going forward.

My only concern to be honest is time. I'm not 20 years old anymore. I know i'll train for the rest of my days, but the schedule strains of life make it tough to find time for "foam rollers" etc. Unfortunately, it looks like it's a necessary evil if you want to maintain a healthy body.

Thanks again.


So depressing. I can't believe I need to basically eliminate these three great exercises...


Only until you fix the imbalance. I tried out the second exercise (cable rear fly) in the video Alexus posted today. I superseted it with band pull aparts for activation.

The mind muscle connection with my rear delts and rhomboids was shocking.

Definitely recommended.