Take a second and think about your shoulder workouts.
They probably include variations of shoulder presses, lateral raises, front raises, face pulls, rear delt fly, and upright rows.
Now, think about those actual movement patterns… none of them involve external rotation.
This means you are missing out on training a MAJOR part of the shoulder that not only helps raise and rotate your arm but also stabilizes your shoulder joint.
We are talking about…The Rotator Cuff. Weak rotator cuff muscles can not only lead to injury… they can impact upper body progress.
To prevent injury and muscle imbalances, you should follow a well-designed program that involves a good amount of pushing, pulling… and rotating!
If you aren’t sure where to start, we have dozens of programs you can check out!
Before you select one, make sure you take this FREE BODY TYPE QUIZ first!
Training (and eating) for your body type will ensure that you achieve the best results in the fastest time!
Whatever training program you choose to follow… make sure you are adding in exercises that strengthen your rotator cuff!
We put together our TOP 3 EXERCISES…
That will isolate this under-developed area of the shoulder!!
You should train your rotator cuff at least 2-3 times a week until you have established better strength. After that, train them at least 1x a week.
Remember that these muscles are small. Your rotator cuff is probably much weaker than you think. The goal is to strengthen them, so pick a weight that challenges you, but do NOT attempt to use heavy weight! Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps.
EXERCISE ONE: Side-Lying DB External Rotation
- Lay sideways on a bench. Your non-working arm can hang, or you can prop yourself up by resting your head on your hand/fist.
- To get even MORE activation roll up a towel and pin it under your top arm … right in the area where your armpit goes into your ribcage. This helps minimize movement.
- Pull your shoulders back and down and keep them this way.
- Start with the top arm parallel to the floor.
- Keep the elbow pinned to your side. Do not let it drift, or you will use delts!
- Externally rotate your arm upwards.
- Return to the starting position.
If you feel any pain, do partial reps. You can later progress to a fuller range of motion.
EXERCISE TWO: Standing “Full Can” Raise
This is a rotator cuff movement often performed in physical therapy when someone has already injured their rotator cuff. It is also great to strengthen and prevent injury.
- Use light plates or DB’s.
- In a standing position, keep your arms straight and raise the weight in what is called a scapular plane – which is about 30 degrees from sideways. Do this with your thumbs up. Raise until you reach shoulder height – this is where the rotator cuff is most active.
- Do not shrug your shoulders when raising and keep your traps relaxed.
- Keep your shoulder blades squeezed together and pushed down.
- Briefly pause for 1-2 seconds and then lower to the starting position.
EXERCISE THREE: External Rotation Press
This exercise will challenge and strengthen all 4 rotator cuff muscles.
- In an upright position, get down on one knee.
- Grab a cable or band that is set at shoulder height
- Pull back in a rowing motion with elbow kept at shoulder height.
- Hold for one second and then externally rotate upwards. Keep your elbow locked.
- Immediately press up into an overhead press. Pause briefly.
- Reverse the motion back to the starting position.
- DO NOT arch your back and keep your core tight.
Your rotator cuff is made up of several muscles and ligaments.. we are only focused on isolating three of them!
There is a very specific reason why! If you want to learn more about this, plus have a better understanding of the anatomy of your rotator cuff and how it impacts your upper body lifts check out this article!
Shoulder injuries are one of the most common set-backs lifters experience!!
It is VITAL that you keep your shoulders injury-free!
Do not neglect these 3 exercises!
They will help strengthen your rotator cuff so that you can keep crushing your upper body lifts!
Do you currently do rotator cuff exercises?
Comment and let us know your favorite way to isolate them!
If this information is all new to you and you would like to see more videos like this… we’d love to hear from you as well!