Something I’ve found that’s often lacking in many fitness & conditioning programs is targeted shoulder external rotation work. Since I feel this can be a beneficial element to one’s training in order to help balance out all of the shoulder internal rotation strengthening work that tends to come from performing many common pushing and pulling exercises, in this post I’m sharing my top two rotator cuff exercises for shoulder external rotation.

1. Supine Shoulder External Rotation with Band

Put simply, I developed the supine external rotation with band exercise because I think most of the traditional exercises for external shoulder rotation are very easy to screw up.

When performing the traditional (standing) external rotation with band, the individual can easily substitute lumbar-spine extension for external shoulder rotation. It’s often hard for many people to tell the difference themselves. They might think they’re doing the exercise correctly, when in reality they’re cheating their external rotators by not working them through the fullest available ROM that’s involved in this type of exercise while teaching thier body to substitute a spinal oriented movement pattern in order to perform a shoulder oriented movement pattern.

So my goal in creating the supine version of the exercise is to make sure people are using the correct range of motion with little to no chance for cheating.

Here’s how supine shoulder external rotation with band is done:

My favorite way to integrate the supine shoulder external rotation with band exercise into a regular strength training program is to pair up supine band shoulder external rotations with sets of horizontal pressing exercises like bench press, dumbbell press, machine presses or push-ups and push-up variations.

Not only do I like pairing up supine band shoulder external rotations with horizontal pressing exercises for the same reasons I like pairing up shoulder raises with vertical pulling exercises, over the years I’ve had many clients and athletes tell me they feel performing some light sets of supine shoulder external rotations with band in-between their sets of intense horizontal pressing exercises helps their shoulders feel better, less “tight” and more ready to do the next set of presses. This has never surprised me because I personally feel the same way when I pair up this exercise with intense horizontal pressing exercises.

Note: I’m just sharing my experiences and communicating that those experiences do indeed influence my decision making processes, along with looking at the relevant scientific evidence, when it comes to exercise programming. So, nobody is trying to make any objective claims here, as I know very well the plural of anecdote is not data.

2. Side Elbow Plank with Dumbbell Shoulder External Rotation

My second favorite shoulder external rotation (rotator cuff) exercise is the side elbow plank with dumbbell shoulder external rotation because it 1) makes the side plank less boring, 2) it’s a multitasking exercises that helps us get more done in the same training time, and 3) adds an additional stability challenge to the trunk muscles in order to remain stiff while you move the dumbbell.

Here’s how it’s done.

My favorite way to incorporate the side elbow plank with dumbbell shoulder external rotation into workouts is to use it towards the end of a comprehensive resistance training session as a part of a paired-set or triple-set, which is exactly how I used it in Phase Two of the (open access) True Muscle training program.

Nick’s Upcoming Live Events

Speaking at the Norwegian AFPT Convention in Olso, Norway on September 11-13, 2015.

Speaking at the NSCA Florida State Clinic in Miami, FL on September 26th, 2015.

Speaking at the NSCA Personal Trainers Conference in Anaheim, CA on October 10-12, 2015.

Teaching a private staff workshop at Impact Strength and Performance in Bellevue,WA on October 14th, 2015

Teaching a private staff workshop at Vigor Ground Fitness and Performance in Renton, WA on October 15th, 2015

Speaking at the VPS Elite Fitness and Performance Summit in Louisville, KY on October 16-17th, 2015.

Teaching a PreCon and Workshops at the 2nd Annual Canadian Strength Symposium (CSS) in Saskatoon, SK on Oct 30 – Nov 2, 2015.

Teaching a PreCon and Workshops at the NSCA Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey on December 4-5th, 2015.