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Movement Monday – The best way to test your shoulder strength


Movement Monday – The best way to test your shoulder strength

For those of us who have done CrossFit for more than 6 months know, and those who haven’t will soon find out, your shoulders can take a beating. Now some will say CrossFit is hard on the shoulders, period, no questions asked. At Okie CrossFit, we will argue that although most CrossFit programs ask us to do higher volume dynamic work with the shoulder, it is not innately harmful by nature. Where the problem lies is a disconnect between gym programming and making sure athletes are prepared to move. Athletes can interrupt their progress with nagging shoulder aches and pains. This happens in many ways; either performing the movement incorrectly, using the wrong muscles to execute a movement, or flat out not having the capacity to safely implement a movement.

For today we will focus on the latter.

There is a simple test to you can do to find if you have an imbalance between strength and structure in the shoulder. Think of it as having the correct chassis for the amount of horsepower your shoulder has. For this test we will compare your max (either 1 rep max or 3 rep max) single arm dumbbell press vs. your max single arm bottoms up kettlebell press. For a passing grade on this test we are wanting to bottoms up press 90% of our dumbbell press. This insures that we have the adequate structure and stability in the shoulder for the amount of force we are capable of producing.


Both of these movements should be performed the same way.

  • Feet between hip and shoulder width apart
  • Legs remaining straight for the duration of the movements
  • Stomach is engaged and static
  • Elbow of the arm performing the movement should be pointed straight ahead, free arm is resting to the side or used as balance
  • Pressing with arm from the down knee side (left knee on the ground. press with left hand)

Completion of the rep is when they arm fully extends over head and returns to the starting position. This applies mainly to the bottoms up press, you must fully return your arm to the starting position in order for the rep to count.

Try this test and let us know what you think! Keep training hard!