T Nation

Overhead Subscapularis Training


I've been perusing the internet a lot and learning about the subscapularis's function as a dynamic stabilizer. Until recently, I was under the impression that the subscap was a bad guy because it was an internal rotator. However, I've learned now that its weakness and tightness is a primary contributor to prolonged, stubborn impingement, which has been keeping me from training for yeas now. I've begun refocusing on training the subscapularis, but the only exercises I've found are the proverbial internal rotation on the cable, prone internal rotations and side-lying internal rotations.

I've grown quite strong on the cable and the side-lying internal rotations, able to lift 20 pounds for a set of 10 on each side, and using 20 pounds on the cable for endurance training. However, yesterday I performed a TINY bit of overhead work and woke up today with a very painful, sore supraspinatus. Direct training of the supraspinatus has always led to the same problem, of course.

When I started training subscapularis, I confirmed that it was riddled with trigger points, scar tissue and adhesion and drastically shortened, and of course RIDICULOUSLY weak. I've come a long way since then, having for the most part alleviated soft tissue issues and strengthened the muscle considerably. My right and left side strength are roughly equal now. However, I haven't seen any improvement in impingement issues.

So my question is how can we train the subscapularis while the arm is overhead? The key function I'm trying to restore is the subscaplaris's ability to stabilize the humeral head and keep it from gliding up and forward. However, I feel like the internal rotation work has only helped marginally in this movement, if it all, really. I've seen the subscapularis pullup, but I feel that not only do I not understand the correct technique, but that this is too much for my weak muscles right now as I am still fairly heavy/muscular at 200 pounds/5-8 frame. Not to mention all sorts of atrophy and weakening of my primary movers over the years I haven't been able to lift.

Any suggestions?


maybe direct this qustion at Eric Cressey or Mike Robertson, cos those sciency words make ma brains hurt




This belongs in the injury forum, my left rhomboid and serratus anterior are also pretty weak.
Maybe this article will also help http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_repair/pushups_face_pulls_and_shrugs


Find a local Human Movement Specialist and get a Postural Analysis done on you. Any number of problems can be the cause of shoulder pain, and without having someone actually look at your shoulders, back and front (and sometimes even hips) we can't give you any real advice.

I never liked any shoulder rehab articles written on here. Maybe I should write an article one time, because I feel there are numerous potential COMMON problems that just aren't covered.