T Nation

External Rotation Work


i have a temperamental shoulder. I tore the infraspinatus years ago, and it's never really been the same since. I can manage it alright though, I only bench with a straight bar for a couple of weeks at a time, neutral grip dumbell presses are my staple, and I do LOADS of pulling movements.

My question is: do you need to do external rotations, cuban rolls etc if you're already doing loads of rows, face pulls and rear delt flyes?

Thanks in advance


My suggestion is that it would be a good idea to work on weak points. So doing some extra rotator cuff work is a good idea. I personally prefer to use a band for that type of work.


You are doing the correct stuff by performing the face pulls, etc. Make sure you are getting a full retraction and depression of the scapula during your rows/pulling movements to get the full benefit. Do you need to make external rotations a huge focus in your workout? No. But I think they are very helpful to shoulder health when used as part of a warmup/activation drill, as part of a superset paired with a more taxing exercise (usually a lower extremity exercise), or as part of a finisher at the end of a workout.

I prefer to do external rotations the following two ways:
1) With the shoulder flexed to 90 in the scapular plane (use a Free Motion machine or a band)
2) Side lying with a bolster/towel under the elbow (weight in hand or manual resistance)


thanks for the replies guys. So I'll start doing some really light ext. rot. stuff in between sets of leg exercises. Thing is I train like this:

Monday: Lower Body (hip dominant)
Tuesday: Upper Body (horizontal push/horizontal pull)
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Lower Body (quad dominant)
Friday: Upper Body (vertical push/pull)

is doing the extra RC stuff going to overtrain it and leave it weak for my upper body days?


If you are worried about it effecting your upper body days, just do it as a finisher at the end of an upper body day workout. You don't have to do 5 different variations of external rotations either. If you were worried about it effecting upper body and wanted to get some extra work in, I would do something like this:

1) Add side lying ER with 5# for 2 sets of 10-15 at the end of Tuesday lift
2) Add standing ER in the scapular plane for 2 sets of 10-15 at the end of Friday lift


Do your external rotator work after upper body days. It can increase your bench press instantly. You should really only do 2-3, so it should not take more than 5 minutes. You can superset it with some medial or rear delt/upper back work...

  1. Stretch your pecs/lats in-between sets.
  2. Shoot for TUT of 40-70 seconds, i.e. 10-20 reps at a slow tempo... something like 202.
  3. Work your non-dominant arm first.

Some good external rotator exercises:

  • Low Pulley ER while Standing (bent-arm at side and abducted to 30 degrees)
  • Low Pulley ER while Standing (arm in front, cable stack in front of you)
  • Lying ER on bench with half-foam roller between your side and your working arm
  • Seated ER with arm resting on Scott bench or something similar
  • Cuban Press as you mentioned


alright then guys, I'll stick in a few sets at the end of the upper body days. I thought about doing it before but didn't really think I'd have time. Supersetting it with some of my other lifts is a good idea. I might stagger it like CT talked about staggering abs training in an article a while back.

(to be honest I think it was just laziness on my part, I could easily make time in my workouts)