By Steve Devine

Whether you’re interested in building cannon ball size shoulders, or merely wanting to perform pushing movements pain free, read on…

…have you ever heard the expression: “You can’t shoot a cannon from a canoe”? I believe this notion to be true in relation to shoulder training.

If you try some of the exercises outlined in this post, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how your shoulders will feel when you perform certain movements – movements that may previously have caused you problems.


I’ve included the picture above so that you can see some of the musculature of the back. Without going into the fine detail of the anatomy, it is suffice to say that your shoulder blades play a big role every time you raise your arms above your head.

If you’ve spent any time in a gym, you will no doubt have heard someone complain about their painful rotator cuff muscles – I know I used to hear it all the time but I never knew exactly where they were (way back then)!

So, just for you here they are.


I’m no physiotherapist and I don’t pretend to know how to cure shoulder ailments. But if you are in pain, seeking medical attention should be your priority – I can highly recommend Halo Gym’s in-house osteopath, Andre.

In many cases, however, looking after these muscles and specifically activating and strengthening them will reduce the likelihood that you’ll ever have problems.

So what exercises should you do?

Exercises performed with bands have become a popular ‘go-to’ option right now:

Band Pull Aparts shown here

Face Pulls shown here

And external rotation using a band shown here

Some of these exercises are quite useful. However, I’ve found some of them to provide minimal stimulation. This dissatisfaction led me to search for better alternatives.


​My search led to a series of exercises known as YTWL, where each letter represents a position your arms form with your body. Not only do they improve the strength and endurance of the muscles in the target area, but they also serve as a primer to activate and fire up these important stabiliser muscles in readiness for further exercise. You can check out my full YTWL tutorial on YouTube here

Steve Devine

About the author

Having worked in the emergency services for 13 years, Steve knows a thing or two about trying to stay fit and healthy whilst living in the real world. His no-nonsense diet and exercise plans are designed to get clients to their goals in a way that fits in with today’s hectic lifestyles. He also understands the importance of mindset, and has many tricks up his sleeve to keep clients motivated way after the initial flush of enthusiasm has worn thin.

Steve’s qualifications include REPS Level 2 Gym Instructor, REPS Level 3 Personal Trainer, Opexfit L1 Nutrition, Opexfit L1 Program Design, Opexfit L1 Assessment, Opexfit L1 Life Coaching and Crossfit L1. He’s also completed Phil Learney’s Real World Fat Loss programme and is currently studying Precision Nutrition.