-Gimme a “Y!” Gimme a “T!” Gimme a “W!” Gimme an “L!”-
Recently, a reader asked me for more information on the “YTWL” exercise. This exercise is a group of movements that can help improve shoulder stability and scapular strength. It’s a great exercise for everyone, especially those with “desk jockey” posture (rounded shoulders). Improving the integrity of the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers is a must-do!
Last month, I shot a bunch of videos of exercises, and this specific one was included. Here’s little ol’ me explaining the “YTW” on the stability ball.
Why no “L?” Well, I personally don’t like the “L” on the stability ball because I have noticed that for many people, it can be tricky for them to get sufficient benefit from this movement (prone external rotation on stability ball). I feel that once a person has performed the preceding movements, when it comes time to do the “L,” they have reached a level of fatigue and it can be more awkward than beneficial.
Don’t get me wrong – this is a great exercise if done properly! I use it with clients but I also have my “variations!”
Let’s take things a step back and discuss the quadruped “YTWL” variation, which is one I feel more people should try before attempting the exercise on a stability ball. It may be easier for some to perform the movement patterns better in this position. Going from the quadruped to 3-point position challenges the body to resist rotation, providing great core benefit. Also, I feel it serves to help provide some “extra” core stabilization stimulus because it subtly challenges the Anterior Oblique System. The Anterior Oblique System (AS) as defined by Paul Chek in his article “The Outer Unit,” “consists of a working relationship between the oblique abdominal muscles and the contralateral adductor musculature and the intervening anterior abdominal fascia.”
I prefer to elevate the body slightly by placing something sturdy yet soft under the non-working side. In the video below, i’m using a focus mitt. This allows unrestricted range of motion and may encourage better position. I also feel it encourages the exerciser to engage the trunk musculature more effectively because they can “push” into the surface.
Get into the quadruped position (on all fours, with knees under hips and wrists under shoulders). For all of the patterns, focus on keeping your core braced and avoid “hunching” your shoulders. The “Y” is performed by raising the arm at a 45-degree angle from the shoulder with the thumb up (“hitchhiking” position). The “T” is performed by raising the arms toward the ceiling at a 90-degree angle from the torso with thumbs up. The “W” is performed by keeping the elbow in toward the torso and squeezing shoulder blades together so that the thumb rotates back toward the ceiling. Finally, the “L” is performed by flexing the elbow to 90 degrees and then externally rotating the upper arm to the ceiling.
So there ya have it, my take on the “YTWL.” However you choose to perform this exercise, I hope you gain benefit from it!