T Nation

How Many Reps/Sets of Rotator Cuff Exercises?

How many reps and sets of the Rotator Cuff (RC) exercises should I do? And whether I should work them to failure or just till I am little tired?

As per Adam Campbell (Mens Health Big Book of exercises) there is a general guideline to do 3-4 reps per set for size, 11- 14 for endurance and 6-10 for mid way training. But no specific guidelines for training the RCs.

On the other hand, Eric Cressey says not to train the RC to failure. (“I have had multiple discussions with Mike Reinold that reaffirm this indirectly- he emphasizes that one should never train the rotator cuff to failure, as thats not how it works in the real world. Our job is to enhance not just its strength, but also its proprioception and rate of force development. If we chronically abuse it with training on top of the crazy demands of throwing, we never really know how strong the rotator cuff actually is. It makes you wonder how many guys in the baseball world actually have exhausted and chronically overtrained rotator cuff muscles as opposed to weak rotator cuff muscles!”

So point being, I am a regular office goes who likes to lift recreationally and for fitness. I lift heavy like 70-85% of my ORM. And do this for all the major exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull ups, rows and bench presses.

And I know all the main RC exercises, but have no clue as to the reps and the sets guide. My aim is both size and endurance.

Can anyone please tell me how many sets and how many reps? And whether I should work them to failure or just till little tired?

Thank you very much in advance!

[quote]lenojustin wrote:
How many reps and sets of the Rotator Cuff (RC) exercises should I do? And whether I should work them to failure or just till I am little tired?

As per Adam Campbell (Mens Health Big Book of exercises) there is a general guideline to do 3-4 reps per set for size, 11- 14 for endurance and 6-10 for mid way training. But no specific guidelines for training the RCs.

On the other hand, Eric Cressey says not to train the RC to failure. (“I have had multiple discussions with Mike Reinold that reaffirm this indirectly- he emphasizes that one should never train the rotator cuff to failure, as thats not how it works in the real world. Our job is to enhance not just its strength, but also its proprioception and rate of force development. If we chronically abuse it with training on top of the crazy demands of throwing, we never really know how strong the rotator cuff actually is. It makes you wonder how many guys in the baseball world actually have exhausted and chronically overtrained rotator cuff muscles as opposed to weak rotator cuff muscles!”

So point being, I am a regular office goes who likes to lift recreationally and for fitness. I lift heavy like 70-85% of my ORM. And do this for all the major exercises like squats, deadlifts, pull ups, rows and bench presses.

And I know all the main RC exercises, but have no clue as to the reps and the sets guide. My aim is both size and endurance.

Can anyone please tell me how many sets and how many reps? And whether I should work them to failure or just till little tired?

Thank you very much in advance![/quote]

The failure quote is somewhat laughable from two very smart guys, if the reason is you dont go to failure because you don’t do this in real life then can you honestly excute any exercise to failure? I don’t squat to failure in real life, I dont chest press to failure in real life, I don’t do sit up til failure in real life.

Training the cuff to handle fatigue (which can be a major contributing factor for injury) is important. Tissues respond to stress, so the main point is to train the cuff directly. Rate of force development is a small point, as the external rotators provide more stabilization of the joint than force production. The internal rotator is a significant contributor to RFD for throwing.

My recommendation for a thrower would be:
develop strength of cuff
Improve strength endurance in period immediately prior to the season

During season, maintain strength

“It makes you wonder how many guys in the baseball world actually have exhausted and chronically overtrained rotator cuff muscles as opposed to weak rotator cuff muscles!”

we know the effects of a season on IR/ER ratios its been studied

For an office worker to avoid RTC injuries:

Develop solid base of strength of RTC IR/ER
2-4 sets 6-10 reps
6-8 weeks

Develop strength endurance 15-30 reps to improve local capillisation

4 weeks

1 week washout

Repeat

thank you very much for the reply!
i totally get your point and the logical extreme of the opinions of the 2 authors would be that one doesn’t do any lifting till failure as that is neer mimicked in real life.
so just to be clear:

  1. one does train the RC to failure - y/n?
  2. should one follow undulating perdiozation to develop the RC muscle? like low rep-high weight then high rep-low weight and then 8 reps only?

thank you in advance!

[quote]lenojustin wrote:
thank you very much for the reply!
i totally get your point and the logical extreme of the opinions of the 2 authors would be that one doesn’t do any lifting till failure as that is neer mimicked in real life.
so just to be clear:

  1. one does train the RC to failure - y/n?
  2. should one follow undulating perdiozation to develop the RC muscle? like low rep-high weight then high rep-low weight and then 8 reps only?

thank you in advance![/quote]

  1. In general, NO, but when you are familiar with the medical field you learn to never say never. At times it can be appropriate to train to failure if you feel that the your cuff training has plateaued. I could see it being used once in a blue moon to elicit a training effect followed by a substantial restoration period of 1-2 weeks

  2. You can develop an undulating periodization if you want to be very detailed in your program. One of my favorite methods of any training is an undulating method within a block periodization scheme. It may look like this:
    4 weeks focusing on strength

Monday: 4 sets x 8 reps
Wednesday 1-2 sets x 8 reps
Friday: 2-3 sets x 8 reps

Or
Monday: 4 sets x 8
tuesday 1 set x 8
wed off
thurs 2 sets x 8
fri: 3 sets x 8
sat sun off

The programs are only limited via imagination. The main point is to get some sort of cuff training, I prefer to develop strength, then when you plateau switch to local endurance, washout, repeat etc.

Dear BHOLL, thank you very much for all the information you shared!
Kind Regards