Handcuffs – Shoulder Mobility (How To & Benefits)

Handcuffs are a shoulder mobility exercise that is easy to incorporate into most warm-ups. No equipment is needed which makes them extremely versatile.

Athletes with good shoulder mobility will find them relatively easy to do, while anyone with poor shoulder mobility will find them almost impossible.

In this guide I’ll teach how to properly perform Handcuffs, explain what their benefits are and give you a few alternatives as well.

How To Do Handcuffs

Equipment Needed

  • None

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Lay face down on the ground with your face lifted up off the ground.
  • Now reach arms straight out to the side and reach overhead.
  • When your hands get overhead, grab the right wrist with the left hand.
  • Now keep arms straight and arc them down, completely the circle with your hands behind your low back.
  • Once both hands reach the low back, again grab the right wrist with the left hand.
  • Continue moving your arms up and down in the same straight arm arcing fashion.
  • Alternate which hand grabs the opposite wrist each rep.

Coaching Points

If you find you’re unable to reach and grab the opposite wrist, that means two things:

First, it’s most likely because your shoulder mobility is very poor and this is an exercise you should definitely be incorporating into your warm-up routines.

Second, do the best you can and reach as far as possible. The more you continue to Handcuffs, along with other shoulder mobility movements, the better your range of motion will become and eventually you may be able to do the complete movement.

Handcuff Benefits

Many of us, athletes and non-athletes alike, have poor general shoulder mobility. Most of us spend too much time sitting at a desk crouched over a computer screen or slouched in a chair scrolling through our phones.

This constant poor posture leads to many of us being over anterior dominant (shoulders pulled forward). So, when we try to open our shoulders through range of motion, we struggle.

A good shoulder mobility routine can help correct these issues and can easily be incorporated into a shoulder warm-up routine.

Handcuff Alternatives

Floor Slides

Floor Sliders are another great shoulder mobility exercise that really emphasizes opening the chest and shoulders.

Simply lay on your back, arms bent, elbows by the sides and the back of the hands pressed into the ground. From this position raise your arms overhead trying to maintain contact with the floor with the hands, wrists and elbows as much as possible.

Focus on pressing the hand and arms back into the floor as you slide the arms up and down.

Arm Circles

Arm Circles may seem overly simplistic, but if you really focus on the range of motion each rep they can be quite effective.

The problem is most athletes doing Arm Circles just go through the motions and accomplish very little other than some blood circulation.

More Links and Info

Looking for more warm-up and/or mobility movements? Go check out the Warm-Up Section of the Horton Barbell Exercise Library.


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