3 Exercises to protect your shoulders

Words by Tina

There are many exercises we can do to help strengthen the upper body, and specifically the shoulder complex which is comprised of many different muscles. Here are 3 exercises to get you started, tailored specifically for mountain bikers aiming to fortify their shoulders and reduce the risk of injury in the event of a crash. These three exercises target key muscles involved in stabilizing and supporting the shoulders, enhancing resilience to better withstand impact forces and maintain joint integrity, minimizing the likelihood of injury during high-intensity rides or possible crashes.

Workout #1 Pull Aparts

“Pull Aparts”   is an exercise that strengthens the muscles involved in shoulder horizontal abduction and scapular retraction, specifically targeting the deltoids, infraspinatus, middle trapezius and rhomboids. By strengthening the muscles responsible for horizontal abduction and scapular retraction, mountain bikers can maintain a more stable and balanced riding position, reducing fatigue and the risk of overuse injuries associated with poor posture or inefficient movement mechanics.

Workout #2 "I Don't Knows"

  • “I Don’t Knows” is an exercise that targets the muscles of the rotator cuff, specifically the infraspinatus and teres minor. These muscles play a critical role in stabilizing the shoulder joint, especially during steering and maneuvering on challenging trails. Strong and resilient rotator cuff muscles contribute to overall shoulder joint stability, reducing the risk of injuries such as shoulder dislocations or rotator cuff strains. 

Workout #3 Sword Draws

  • “Sword Draws” is an exercise that targets the muscles of the shoulder complex, particularly the middle deltoid, supraspinatus, and serratus anterior. This exercise is highly beneficial for mountain bikers as it helps strengthen the muscles responsible for shoulder stabilization and movement, aiding in injury prevention and enhancing performance on the trails. 

Incorporating these three exercises into a comprehensive strength training program can significantly benefit mountain bikers by enhancing shoulder strength, stability, mobility, and injury resilience. It’s essential to perform the exercises with proper form, control the movement throughout the full range of motion, and gradually increase resistance as strength improves.

Perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps of each movement, using a resistance band of moderate challenge to start. Once you can perform 15 reps easily, increase to a stiffer band. 

Try them out

Find out more about Tina’s strength and conditioning services and programs, as well as mountain bike coaching clinics in Arvada, Colorado at her website www.rowdyryderacademy.com

Have questions? Send ’em to [email protected]


Check out the Video on all 3 exercises here 


Coach Tina is the owner of Rowdy Ryder Academy, located in Arvada, Colorado, and also founder of Denver women’s mountain bike club “Girls, Gears and Beers.” She is a licensed physical therapist and mountain bike coach, with previous background as a personal trainer and sports performance coach (since 2002) prior to receiving her Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree in 2015 from Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles. She recently received the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer certificate in October 2023, which she uses to help create effective strength and conditioning programs for her clients, to not only excel in their sport but in daily life.

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