Calisthenics for Shoulder Mobility


Have you ever had to ask someone to assist in scratching a part of your back that you couldn’t reach?

Imagine if you could do it yourself! That would be quite a victory!

Well friends, I’m proud to say I can scratch my own back. Here’s how I made it happen!

When I originally began strength training with kettlebells and bodyweight, there came a point when my lats were getting jacked! Even though they looked glorious, I began to lose a lot of the mobility I had gained from all my prior years of Yoga training. It was impossible to get my hands to touch behind my back!

Thankfully, adding back regular Yoga stretches and remixing them with some calisthenics moves, I was able to regain and even improve my shoulder mobility.

Here are some easy exercises you can add to your practice that may help you improve your reach!

Assisted Standing Backbend


Grab a bar around chest height and begin to slowly walk away from it til you feel a deep stretch in the back and chest. Squeeze the glutes as you lift your sternum towards the sky. Relax your head and neck and let it fall back between the arms. Hold for 15-20 seconds. You can also practice this move pressing away from a wall. As you warm-up, you can gradually progress to a lower bar.

Bridge Pose 


Lie on your back and place your hands by your sides. Walk your feet in so your heels are close to your butt and your knees point towards the sky. Press through the soles of the feet and hands as you raise your hips up. Tuck each shoulder under the body, and try to interlace the fingers as you squeeze the palms together. Press down through the forearms and let your neck soften as the chin comes towards the chest. Hold for 30 secs to 1 minute.

Plow Pose 


Lie on your back and extend both legs towards the sky with arms at your sides. Press down through the palms as you attempt to lift the hips and roll the legs overhead. The movement should resemble a reverse sit-up. Your hips should be aligned over your shoulders, chin tucked in towards the chest. Breathe and relax into the stretch.

Skin The Cat


Grab a bar about shoulder-width apart and come to a dead hang. Squeeze the bar as you tuck your knees to your chest. Attempt to slide your feet and hips through your arms and then lower your legs down as low as you can. Try to reverse the motion in the opposite direction until you return to the starting position. If you are new to this movement, it may help to practice with dip bars so you have an easier time clearing the legs and hips through the arms. You can also practice with a spotter or from standing so you can use momentum to kick your legs through. Your form should eventually resemble the plow pose above, only hanging from a bar instead.

Take the Power Back

Practicing these moves regularly has made a world of difference in my mobility as well as making me a better athlete overall. I’m a strong believer in balancing the body by practicing backbends in order to counter too much frontal flexion from sitting. Adding these moves to your training arsenal will help keep that balance of strength and flexibility in your upper body so you will continually progress in your practice!

Good luck ninjas! Peace, Love, and Ninja Kicks!


2 Replies to “Calisthenics for Shoulder Mobility”

  1. Hey Grace,

    very cool article. I really struggle with shoulder mobility as a guy. That’s the reason why my bridge still looks a bit ugly.

    Especially the plow pose was new to me, that’s a completely new sensation! Keep this great stuff coming!

    PS: Very cool title photo. You look hot!

    1. Hey Silvio! Thanks for reading and for trying out the exercises! Shoulder mobility in the upper body especially in bridging tends to be a challenge for most athletic dudes! Plow is from Yoga and definitely a powerful pose! If you look closely, you’ll notice that Skin-the-cat is basically Plow pose on a bar! The two definitely compliment each other and can def help improve your mobility! My friend Mia Anelli is a very talented photographer and took that photo!

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