HomeFitnessExternal Rotation Exercises For Strengthening Rotator Cuffs

External Rotation Exercises For Strengthening Rotator Cuffs

External Rotation Exercises
When it comes time to hit a workout, be it shoulders, chest or back the majority of guys might do one or two light sets as a 'warm up' before lifting the big numbers...
You can only get away with doing this for so long, I speak from experience.

Rotator cuff issues are far too common in the gym... how many guys have you heard complaining of pain or a pinching feeling when they're performing exercises such as the shoulder press or lateral raise?

Treat your rotator cuffs well and they'll treat you well...

"SJ, do we have to add in another workout to target our rotator cuffs with internal rotation and external rotation exercises?"

Not at all.

I've found hitting your rotator cuffs a few times a week (during your warm up) to sufficiently strengthen my rotator cuffs and prevent any further niggling issues.

The #1 Culprit Of Rotator Cuff Issues

Ask 99% of gym bros what their favorite exercise is and I guarantee you they'll say the barbell bench press or a variation of it.

The bench press is great for adding strength and size to the chest and triceps as we're able to lift a significant amount of weight with this pressing movement... but there's a catch...

See also
5 Overhead Press Mistakes You're Probably Making

The bench press when performed with good form places immense stress on the rotator cuffs.

The bench press when performed with poor form is a recipe for rotator cuff disaster!

Now, there's no need to skip the bench press as it is a fantastic fundamental exercise but there are a few adjustments to make if you are experiencing niggling shoulder issues:

  1. Temporarily lower the volume of your pressing movements
  2. Work on tennis ball self massage around your deltoid, lats, traps and chest
  3. Implement these external rotation exercises listed below

3 External Rotation Exercises You MUST Perform

When it comes to rotator cuff injuries issues such as impingement require a combination of time, strengthening exercises, stretching & trigger point therapy to the surrounding muscle groups do the trick.

Perform the following 3 exercises twice per week.

Do not lift heavy, you should be able to comfortably perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions per exercise.

Lifting too heavy and being too enthusiastic with your external rotation exercises is a surefire way to cause damage.

#1 - Standing External Rotations

Movement: Isolation

Required: Dumbbell or Cable Machine

Standing External Rotations Form

Hold a dumbbell or cable handle attachment in one hand with the elbow of that particular arm creating a 90 degree angle between your upper arm and your forearm.

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Your forearm should be parallel to the floor and your elbow should be tucked against your side.

Externally rotate your forearm while exhaling, ensuring it maintains a parallel to floor position.

Hold the contracted position before rotating internally to return to the starting position.
Repeat for 3 sets of 12 - 15 repetitions per arm.

#2 -  Face Pulls

Movement: Isolation

Required: Cable Machine

Face Pulls Form

Face towards a a cable machine with a rope attachment.

Grasp the rope and pull the weight directly towards your face.

While pulling begin to separate your hands in order to squeeze your shoulder blades.

Ensure your upper arms remain parallel to the floor.

Repeat for 3 sets of 12 - 15 repetitions per arm.

#3 - Shoulder Dislocations

Movement: Isolation

Required: Wooden Pole or Resistance Band

Shoulder Dislocations Form

Grasp the pole or resistance band with a wide grip (the more you practise these and the more flexible your shoulders become the narrower grip you’ll be able to utilize).

For the duration of the exercise squeeze your back muscle and shoulder blades together, maintain a relaxed chest.

Keeping your arms as straight as possible lift above your head until the pole/band touches your lower back.

Bring the pole/band overhead once again and return it to the starting position (touching your thighs) while maintaining straight arms.

See also
Hangboard Training For Grip Strength

What's Your Take On These External Rotation Exercises? Let Me Know Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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