T Nation

Rotator Cuff Maintinance

I am sure most of you have read Serious Advice on a Humorous Subject. In this article Charles Poliquin outlines a program for building up the rotator cuff. He then goes on to mention that after completing this program the rotator cuff requires little maintinance.
I am currently doing one exersize every fifth day for rotator cuffs. Is this enough? I am curious to hear from some other T-Men on this subject.

I am new at your website… how do I view this article on Rotator cuff maintenence

Max, I’ve had RC issues since playing high school baseball (in both shoulders). What’s worked best for me in the past was to do a few (read 2 or 3) exercises targeted directly at the RC a couple of days a week, normally 2 to 3.

Just learning the limitations of your shoulders in the gym is a big step in the right direction. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly.

Brian, use the search box off to the left. Search for “rotator cuff” under “t-mag”. I think the article is a “Question of Strength” Q & A.


To develop and maintain rotator cuff strength, I began performing seated dumbbel external rotations, with my elbow propped up on my knee. This was described in an old T-mag article. I use a flat bench and the exercise looks like a reverse arm wrestle movement.
I found that I can maintain strength in this exercise by doing these no more often than once a week, and I frequently let it go to once every other week. One of my regular exercises, however, is a hang clean, which, although primarily for deltoids, has some external rotation built into it.

I’ll do one RC exercise (usually 3x10-20) following my benching sessions and stretch the external rotators in between sets.

IMO it also seems that Jumping rope has accelerated my RC ability.

Actually, the link is here:


I’m in a bit of a rush right now, but I’ll post back later with some more in-depth suggestions on maintenance training.


HUGE Thanks for the URL I been looking for that article for a month. My left shoulder has been KILLING me.

I normally do two or three sets of external rotations before any upper body workouts. Had RC issuse in high school but since i started doing them my shoulders are better then before.

I think that one exercise every fifth day is sufficient if your rotator cuffs are already up to par. However, there are a few other variables to consider:

  1. How much of one’s back session is devoted to rows vs. pullup/down movements. I recommend 2-3 sets of rows for every pullup/down set (which stresses primarily the internal rotators). The more pullup/down movements you do, the more external rotator training you should include. Likewise, when the volume of chest, anterior delt, or teres major training goes up, one must be sure to balance out external/internal rotator training.

  2. Are you devoting training time specifically to the posterior delts? If so, then one exercise is likely sufficient. If not, two might be more appropriate.

Finally, an excellent approach to maintaining health taters is to utilize Chad Waterbury’s 100-rep protocol with external rotations with surgical tubing or rubber bands (on a doorknob). 3-4 sets of 25-35 reps per day is a good protocol.

Hope this helps.