Crack the code to an impenetrable guard! In this episode, we break down a powerful progression of standing shoulder stretch exercises designed to enhance your shoulder mobility and solidify your guard.

If you’ve been struggling with mobility… Dive into dynamic warm-up stretches and end your sessions with static holds to ensure a rock-solid guard that can even break your opponent’s attacks!

by Don Heatrick

Shoulder Stretch: Improving Shoulder Mobility for Fighters

Shoulder mobility is crucial for fighters to maintain an effective fighting guard and protect themselves from attacks. This video provides a progression of standing shoulder stretches that can be used to improve shoulder mobility.

Dynamic Warm Up Stretch or Static Stretch?

Dynamic Stretches:

  • Definition: Active movements that gradually increase range of motion and prepare muscles for activity.

  • Best Used: At the START of a session as part of a warm-up routine.

  • Purpose: Warm up muscles, increase blood flow, and improve coordination and range of motion.

  • Example: Shrugging action of the shoulder and back down while holding the straight arm rear shoulder stretch, repeated dynamically for 1-2 sets of 10 repetitions.

Static Stretches:

  • Definition: Holding a position that lengthens muscles for an extended period (usually 30 seconds or more).

  • Best Used: At the END of a workout session or on rest days.

  • Purpose: Improve flexibility, reduce muscle soreness, and enhance recovery.

  • Example: Holding the straight arm rear shoulder stretch for 3 sets of 30 seconds each.

In summary, dynamic stretches are ideal for preparing the body for physical activity, while static stretches are beneficial for promoting flexibility and post-workout recovery.

Shoulder Stretch Protocols Used Here:

  • Dynamic mobility warmup: 1-2 sets of 10 reps per side
  • Static stretch: 3x 30 sec holds or 3-5 breaths per side

Shoulder Stretch Exercises

LEVEL 1 – Straight arm rear shoulder stretch: This stretch is done by taking the arm across the opposite side of the body and hugging it tightly to the chest. The shoulder should be kept down and relaxed.

LEVEL 2 – Bent arm rear shoulder stretch: This stretch is done by taking the arm across the body and keeping the forearm vertical. The shoulder should be kept down and relaxed.

LEVEL 3 – Eagle Arms rear shoulder stretch: This stretch is done by hugging the arms across the body and then taking the forearms up together. The either the backs of the hands should be touching, or the palms locked in together with crossed up forearms.


  • Use whichever version of the exercise suits you best.
  • Perform these stretches at least 3 times per week.

Additional Notes

  • Static stretches should be performed at the end of a session, as they can temporarily reduce strength and power.
  • Dynamic stretches can be performed at the start of a session.
  • Breathing into the upper chest can intensify the stretch.

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

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