T Nation

Internal Rotators, Who Trains Them?

you hear the importance of external rotators all the time, but how about internal rotators like subscapularis? is there such thing as weak internal rotators? Yes I do lots of chest and lat work both of which are internal rotators themselves.

I don’t train them, but subscapularis is good for helping to support the anterior part of the shoulder capsule as well as contributing to keeping the head of the humerus in the socket. If I were a thrower or someone who forcefully draws his arm backwards a lot or even a dedicated bench presser, it would be more important to me.

I do a few sets of prone internal rotations as activation work for my subscapularis as part of my warm up before any upper body work. Makes my shoulders feel loads better.

It’s quite an awkward move to get hang of at first, you need to play around a bit with it to stop yourself feeling it all in the upper traps.

There’s a description in this article if you’re interested:

I do them as a warm-up.

When I injured my shoulder, I thought it had to be because my external rotators were weak and my internal rotators were overactive. That’s what every article on tnation was saying. So I began hammering my external rotators and stretching the internal rotators, and didn’t get anywhere.

I went to a physio who said my subscapularis (an internal rotator) was too weak compared to my external rotators, and gave me lots of band internal rotations, which I did and the shoulder got better.

Basically everyone is different, and it pays to keep everything strong.

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
I do a few sets of prone internal rotations as activation work for my subscapularis as part of my warm up before any upper body work. Makes my shoulders feel loads better.

It’s quite an awkward move to get hang of at first, you need to play around a bit with it to stop yourself feeling it all in the upper traps.

There’s a description in this article if you’re interested:

great article! I really appreciate it!

[quote]alternate wrote:
When I injured my shoulder, I thought it had to be because my external rotators were weak and my internal rotators were overactive. That’s what every article on tnation was saying. So I began hammering my external rotators and stretching the internal rotators, and didn’t get anywhere.

I went to a physio who said my subscapularis (an internal rotator) was too weak compared to my external rotators, and gave me lots of band internal rotations, which I did and the shoulder got better.

Basically everyone is different, and it pays to keep everything strong.[/quote]

this just confirms that my instinct was right. more internal rotator work needed as I was already doing plenty of external work. thx again!

[quote]Iron Dwarf wrote:
I do them as a warm-up. [/quote]
Guess thats what I’ll need to start doing my man! thx again!

[quote]Iron Dwarf wrote:
I do them as a warm-up. [/quote]

x2.

I do them every upper body workout. Pre-hab not Re-hab

The primary job of subscap is to prevent anterior translation of the humerus.

If you notice at the end rep of a set of bench press that the humerus is gliding forward upon failure you need to strengthen subscap.

Elbow high internal rotations have the highest subscap activation. Whilst performing them focus on scapular retraction and keeping the arm back at all times. 6-8 weeks should “awaken” this muscle and no further work is needed.

[quote]thrasher_09 wrote:
The primary job of subscap is to prevent anterior translation of the humerus.

If you notice at the end rep of a set of bench press that the humerus is gliding forward upon failure you need to strengthen subscap.

Elbow high internal rotations have the highest subscap activation. Whilst performing them focus on scapular retraction and keeping the arm back at all times. 6-8 weeks should “awaken” this muscle and no further work is needed.

[/quote]

thanks for the info. that sounds like a great idea!

I exercise them but I try not to train them. By train I mean make them stronger/bigger. Not that I avoid it but I let main movements like pushing pulling vertical and horizontal build residual strength in them. I’ve had years of shoulder issues and would always come back to make them above average strength then something else would happen. I found the muscles are too small and provide to small a margin of error to try to get the exact balance and ratio of strength to keep my shoulder in tact. However with light exercises and focus on the movement I was able to avoid injury and proper volume of main exercises they get as strong as they need to get.

Training the internal rotators seem to be much easier as turning your arm in is more natural but external rotation I always seem to add too much rear delts.

[quote]Airtruth wrote:
I exercise them but I try not to train them. By train I mean make them stronger/bigger. Not that I avoid it but I let main movements like pushing pulling vertical and horizontal build residual strength in them. I’ve had years of shoulder issues and would always come back to make them above average strength then something else would happen. I found the muscles are too small and provide to small a margin of error to try to get the exact balance and ratio of strength to keep my shoulder in tact. However with light exercises and focus on the movement I was able to avoid injury and proper volume of main exercises they get as strong as they need to get.

Training the internal rotators seem to be much easier as turning your arm in is more natural but external rotation I always seem to add too much rear delts. [/quote]

When you perform any external rotations are you making sure the scap is packed back?

Also, start with extremely light weight for 20-30 reps before progressing up. Rear delts/rhomboids taking over either means you are going too heavy and using sloppy form or the scap isn’t retracted. It is quite common to feel this.

I assume you are talking about external rotations on the knee. If you are talking about side on to a cable stack which targets more the teres minor start with the thumb near the belly button and pivot from that angle. Provides a more direct lever arm for the rotator cuff. Again, remember to keep that scap retracted.

If I get anterior shoulder pain (front of humeral head seems to translate forward and pinch something) when doing shoulder high INTERNAL rotations but no pain with external rotations, what might be the problem, and how should one fix that?

[quote]seekonk wrote:
If I get anterior shoulder pain (front of humeral head seems to translate forward and pinch something) when doing shoulder high INTERNAL rotations but no pain with external rotations, what might be the problem, and how should one fix that? [/quote]

“High” as in the shoulder is abducted (laterally raised)?

[quote]Fuzzyapple.Train wrote:

[quote]seekonk wrote:
If I get anterior shoulder pain (front of humeral head seems to translate forward and pinch something) when doing shoulder high INTERNAL rotations but no pain with external rotations, what might be the problem, and how should one fix that? [/quote]

“High” as in the shoulder is abducted (laterally raised)? [/quote]

Yes, keeping the upper arm lifted sideways 90 degrees to the trunk and internally rotating the forearm downwards causes pain. This picture:

The supraspinatus (abduction) and the subscapularis (internal rotation) are involved with that motion you are describing. I bet you have some inflammation or small tear going on with the subscapularis at the insertion point of the humerus.

Has you range of motion decreased with that movement?

“Fixing” that issue would be giving it time to heal, adding heat to the area and foam rolling the area with a golf ball or a hard tennis ball.

[quote]Fuzzyapple.Train wrote:
The supraspinatus (abduction) and the subscapularis (internal rotation) are involved with that motion you are describing. I bet you have some inflammation or small tear going on with the subscapularis at the insertion point of the humerus.

Has you range of motion decreased with that movement?

“Fixing” that issue would be giving it time to heal, adding heat to the area and foam rolling the area with a golf ball or a hard tennis ball. [/quote]

Hmm, the subscapularis insertion point. Looking at some anatomy diagrams, that indeed looks like it may be it, though nobody has ever mentioned that before. Thank you.

Yes, I do have restricted range of motion on that side.

How do you heal an insertion point tear? It has not healed in 4 years despite rest periods and rolling.

[quote]seekonk wrote:

[quote]Fuzzyapple.Train wrote:
The supraspinatus (abduction) and the subscapularis (internal rotation) are involved with that motion you are describing. I bet you have some inflammation or small tear going on with the subscapularis at the insertion point of the humerus.

Has you range of motion decreased with that movement?

“Fixing” that issue would be giving it time to heal, adding heat to the area and foam rolling the area with a golf ball or a hard tennis ball. [/quote]

Hmm, the subscapularis insertion point. Looking at some anatomy diagrams, that indeed looks like it may be it, though nobody has ever mentioned that before. Thank you.

Yes, I do have restricted range of motion on that side.

How do you heal an insertion point tear? It has not healed in 4 years despite rest periods and rolling.
[/quote]

You are welcome. Adding a joint supplement that has glucosamine, MSM, and chondroitin would be a great start if not done so already. However, if this is a chronic injury perhaps medical intervention would be needed. But beyond that I cannot offer much more help.