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Rotator Cuff Training to Failure Possible?


Hello lifters,

A friend told me that I should NEVER train L-flys to muscular failure.

yesterday I read in Mike Robertson's great article "shoulder the load":

"So after youâ??ve started off light and gotten these muscles working, train them like anything else! Iâ??m not saying you want to do heavy singles, negatives, or the Weider forced reps principle, but you should still periodize your training like you would any other muscle group."

And after these lines I wondered if it's ok to train to muscular failure (without any cheat reps)?

what do you think?

thanks in advance!


Training anything to failure is very stressful on your body. Not saying dont do it, just dont do it all the time. As far as rotator cuff training, do specific exercises just to keep that area healthy. I hate the stupid int/ext work with your elbow to your side. It's retarded. Pratical rotator exercises for powerlifting: Face pulls, seated db powercleans, W's, I's, L's, Y's, and pull aparts. Fit those in somewhere, do high reps, and you should be good.

The cool thing about the seated power cleans and face pulls is that you can go a little heavier. Make everything as strong as possible, thats the only form of training that makes sense to me.


thanks for your great post! (but im not completely sure if I understand everything right)

So it is not dangerous to train the rotator cuff to failure (and with failure I don't mean forced reps, just as many reps that are able with good form) ?

I really want to be sure about that, because some guys in my club said, you have to never should as many reps as possible -even if the form is good- while working on the rotator.

(I train the rotators just once per week after the benchday, so there is space for regeneration.)

thanks in advance,
stay strong!


I do not beleive it is a good idea to go to failure for Rotator Cuff training. Rehab/Prehab work should always be sub-max.
This does not mean that you don't progress over time.


thanks BlueCollarTr8n, that sounds logical.

when do I know, that I have to increase the weight, that i use for the prehab work.

do there exist any shemes or examples of othe athletes on the internet?

or is this so much individual that I have to rely on my own muscular feeling/experiences (which does not really exist for my rotators at this moment)?

sorry for this plenty of questions guy, but this should be my last on the prehab-stuff :slight_smile:

stay strong,
yours tommy


To do prehab is to assume your shoulders are healthy and do not need rehab. I've always recommended prehab as part of a warm up and there is no progression, just get warmed up. I only progressed those exercises when rehabbing athletes. Their progressions moved from simple movements, like internal and external rotation (which are still great exercises when you are injured and cannot do anything else), to PNF, Houghston's, closed chain stuff to getting them to lifting weights with good form and a balanced program.

I have to say I have never seen a case where anyone suspected a person of hypertrophying their cuff.


I do not want to hypertrophy my cuff, but i want to prevent muscular disbalances.

and at any one time when my bench is at 400 pounds i think it would be bad to still work with 1,25 lbs dumbbells.

I assume that there do not really exist any progression plans and I have to "feel" when I have to use a heavier dumble, right? (that would be difficult for me, because there is no muscular failure, what shows when it is time to increase the weights)

tank you guys,
yours tommy


what are W's, I's, L's, and Y's?


Go here and scroll down.

I's aren't mentioned but they are raising the weight over your head in an arc. Like the T, but overhead.