Rotator Cuff Strengthening
How Strengthening the Rotator Cuff Muscles Can Make Your Whole Upper Body Stronger
If you’ve been training for some time or involved in almost any sport, there’s a good chance you’ve felt that pain knifing through your shoulder that accompanies a rotator cuff injury. Yeah, it sucks, but you’re on a long and distinguished list. The rotator cuff is a little muscle group that few people bother to train, yet it gives nearly everyone who does anything athletic a little bit of hell at some point or another.
The rotator cuff consists of three comparatively small small muscles, the Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, and Teres Minor, whose job is to keep everything in your shoulder joint lined up where it’s supposed to be. It first gained notoriety through baseball players, especially pitchers, whose repeated throwing motion is especially injurious to the group, but anyone who throws, lifts, or even reaches for their coat in just the right (or wrong, in this case) can get or re-aggravate one of these injuries.
Even if you’ve never had the misfortune to mess your RC up, you’ve probably heard of someone else doing it, whether that was at your gym, on your softball team, or on one of your school teams. I’ve torn both of mine, and I can assure you, it’s no picnic.
There are several well documented shoulder exercises which dramatically strengthen the 3 muscles that make up the rotator cuff, and significantly reduce your likelihood of injury there. Your shoulder’s importance can’t be understated. Ever try to do anything involving your upper body without moving that joint? That’s why it’s so important to keep it injury free.
How Strengthening 3 Little Muscles Can Up Your Bench
What many people don’t know is that even if you’ve never even felt the twinge which indicates your rotator cuff is about to give way, much less torn it completely, you could be holding yourself back in other ways having nothing to do with injury prevention by not training this important muscle group. That being said, almost no one bothers to train it. You probably don’t either, right? Ask around, I bet almost no one else in your gym, club, or locker room does, either.
That’s a shame, because chances are you’re short changing yourself in the upper body development department by avoiding rotator cuff strengthening exercises.
You can bench 450? So what….none of the traditional upper body lifts, whether it’s the bench press, shoulder press, side or front lateral raises, pull ups, or power cleans significantly trains this muscle group, leaving it struggling to keep up with all those other muscles that keep getting stronger, week, by week.
As noted, that can cause injury problems, but what you probably don’t know, is that it can also hold you back from a strength and muscular development perspective as well. That’s right, you can add to your bench press max by working out with a little 10lb (or even 5lb) dumbbell. That holds true whether you just started training last week, or walked off with your 23rd powerlifting trophy on Saturday.
It doesn’t matter, because nearly everyone can benefit from adding rotator cuff strengthening exercises to their training routine, yet virtually no one includes them. Do you want to increase your bench press max to finally pass up your training partner or impress the guys at the gym? Getting ready for the combine, and want to give scouts a more impressive number to enter on their sheet? Maybe you’ve been trying to breakthrough that troublesome plateau for months now, and can’t seem to blow the lid off of it, no matter how many different training variations you’ve tried.
Throw in some rotator cuff strengthening exercises, and most likely, you’ll finally see the results you expected all along. It’s probably that missing piece you’ve been looking for. You owe it to yourself to try it out.
Check out my post on how to fix shoulder pain for rotator cuff exercises. The point is, strengthen your rotator cuffs, and it will let your strength increase throughout your upper body. Have you ever had rotator cuff problems? How did you fix them?