Shoulder packing stabilizes your shoulder to help reduce the chance of injury as well as helps you lift more weight! For literally YEARS you have heard me say “keep your shoulders down and back” like a broken record, now I’m finally getting around to explain. Keeping your shoulders down and back has another name, its shoulder packing.
I have pretty good chest development for somebody over 50 and I credit it to two things: My focus on squeezing exercises and packing my shoulders. Not only does shoulder packing make you stronger but it helps keep your shoulders safe from injury. Well talk about how it increases your chest strength increase in a bit but lets first talk about shoulder safety. The shoulder is a complex joint which is incredibly flexible but its easy to injure unless you keep it stabilized.
To pack your shoulders while standing:
- put your shoulders as close to the ground as you can
- put your shoulders backward as far as you can
- thrust your chest out as far as you can
- Try and squeeze your shoulder blade in your back together
- push your shoulders as far as possible from your ears
A number of the above items listed are redundant but it helps you visualize what it is you are doing to pack your shoulders. At first, this packed position is very awkward but with practice you can hold it easily when doing exercises. When should you pack your shoulders? In my opinion, you should pack your shoulders:
- For all chest exercises
- For all shoulder exercises
- For all lat exercises
Strength Increase With Shoulder Packing
Now I claim that this down and back position increases your chest strength, why? Because of leverage! One end of your pecs is on your sterum and the other is here on upper arm bone as shown in the below diagram:
In chest exercises, when you pack your shoulders, it raises your sternum higher up as well as makes your shoulders narrower to increase the leverage. Lets look at the model below and see why.
The above picture is with normal shoulder position, the pec is pulling the arm at a 45 degree angle – it doesnt have much leverage. How much leverage does it have?
- vertical component in normal position is the sin of 45 degrees = .707
Now lets look at the leverage when the shoulder is in the packed position show below:
Notice how the packed shoulders are narrower and the chest lifted up higher. With the packed shoulders, the pecs are pulling the arm up at a much more vertical angle – about 60 degrees instead of 45 degrees. That leverage makes it so you can lift more weight. How much more? In very, very rough numbers:
- vertical component in packed shoulder position is the sin of 60 degrees = .866
Or in this case the packed shoulders have a 22% strength advantage. Of course, my model is very crude and not many people have chests big enough to go from 45 degrees to 60 degrees when they pack their shoulders. You will probably not see a 22% gain like my diagram indicates but I’m willing to be that you do see an increase. What this does is increase the leverage making it easier for your pecs to lift heavier weights!