top of page

Strong, but Weak At The Same Time..

Over the last few weeks I’ve been dropping a lot of heavy hints about the upcoming Upper Body Mobility & Strength Workshop this month.

But I’ve a story from the gym yesterday to tell you that may just convince you to book a spot for yourselves, or not.

You may just like the story.

It’s about the Strength part of the title.

You see, mobility isn’t a simple thing.

Doing a movement is one thing. Doing it right is something else entirely.

And moving well requires not only the required range of motion but also the strength to control that same range of motion.

So yesterday I was working with a lad who appeared to have perfect range of motion for his chosen sport of swimming. He can hang from the bars, do more pull ups than most, more push ups than most and for all intents and purposes is “strong”

But upon closer inspection we see what I like to call “Training Scars”

ie holes, weak areas, areas of compensation that have come about as a result of either one dimensional training, incomplete training, laziness or simply lack of knowledge.

In this particular case, it’s not lack of knowledge.

Nor is it laziness.

In this case it’s over dominance of the internal rotators, ie the Pecs and Lats, with really shitty external rotators.

I see this a lot with our BJJ players, I see it with Crossfit and Olympic Lifters and this lad who swims front crawl.

A training scar, ANY training scar has the potential to stunt performance and lead to injury.

And often times the athlete in question is baffled as to why they got hurt in the first place, after all they move “well” they can do all the things everyone else is doing and in many cases do more of it faster or heavier.

Which results in the athlete getting stressed out, maybe working harder and then we see the injuries coming out.

So coming back to our external rotators.

Most of which reside in that upper back space behind the shoulders and all serve to move the scapula.


And this is where so many are weak.

Smaller muscles can get easily overpowered by larger muscles. So the big internal rotators such as the pecs and lats can crush the smaller external rotators such as the serratus anterior, and lower traps.

It’s the reason we don’t emphasis the lats in WG, in fact of all the back muscles it’s the lower traps we talk about the most.

image courtesy of

image courtesy of, this is a posture commonly associated with tight lats / pecs

And we have many protocols for developing the upper back strength in a well rounded and holistic manner, that may not result in tremendous gym lifts, but do result in tremendous performance where it counts.

Out in the real world, on the mat, in the pool, on the mountain, in the ring.

One such drill is what we now call the “Corkscrew row” essentially an inverted row on the rings with a corkscrew action:

We’ve also stolen many Gymnastic strength drills for developing what they call “Scapular Strength” such as the scap pull:

My clients are not allowed to do a pull up until they get the scap pulls mastered. Other wise they run the risk of relying on the lats and the biceps to do all the work which can chew up the shoulders pretty quick.

I’ll be presenting on all of this during the Upper Body Mobility and Strength Workshop on November 15th.

Because all the mobility in the world is useless without the strength to control it. Just as all the strength in the world if you can’t move well.

I’ll see you there.


Dave Hedges

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page