How to Strengthen Your Rotator Cuff

Step-by-step Instructions

Here is what you need to do...
Step 1

The first thing to do before exercising the rotator cuff is to definitely stretch. Take one arm across your body and take the other arm perpendicularly to the other and pull it away from the body. Next, do arm circles forward for 30 seconds and backwards for another 30 seconds. Finally, reach as high as you can towards the ceiling pulling your hands up as far as you can go.

Step 2

Now that you're all stretched out it's time for the first exercise. I call it the cab driver. You take a circle weight (I suggest 5 pounds if this your first time) and stand in front of a clock. Lift the 5 pound weight in both hands straight up with your arms locked and in a perpendicular position from your body. Your arms and body should look like an upside down L. Now rotate the circle weight back and forth as if you are turning the wheel of a car for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, lift it straight into the air at 90 degrees for 15 seconds. Repeat this for three to four sets. Now if it becomes difficult to hold the weight straight up while turning you may bend your arms for an easier workout.

Step 3

Next, you will be doing dumbell lifts to the side and front of the body. I usually grab 20 pound dumbbells for this but first starting out find a weight that you can get the form down correctly. Now standing upright pick up the weights and hold them at your sides. Then, lift the dumbells straight out to your sides so that your arms lock out. You will appear like a T shape. Then, once you have reached the sides bring them down and lift them straight in front of your body. Finally, bring them back down to your sides. That is one rep. I usually do 3 sets of 10 reps for this workout.

Step 4

Fourth, is a calisthenics workout with the elastic bands. Wrap the band around a pole or structure that won't allow it to shift around. Then put one hand through the open end of the band and walk with it until it becomes tight and resists to move forward. Now make your arm into an L shape. With the band in hand, move your arm forward until it is horizontal. You will experience resistance with this. Do this for 20 reps on each hand for 3 sets. There are different levels of band resistance so if it is too easy or too hard you may use a different band level.

Step 5

Finally, record your progress with each lift. If you want to make your rotator cuff stronger you must make progress in the amount being lifting. Don't let the amount you do become complacent or you will plateau and not move up in strength. If you are just trying to tone, obviously you just do more reps but less weight.

Special Attention

Difficulties people often experience or parts that need special attention to do it right.

If you have never done this before, you're going to look at this workout and not think it is much. I promise you your arms are going to be on fire after this. It's a muscle group that not a whole lot of people workout so when you do it is an intense burn. Don't let that deter you. That means it is working.

Stuff You'll Need

Suggested Further Reading

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New Rules of Lifting $12.82

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This Student Author's Background

Funny or interesting story about this topic...

When did you first do this & how did you get started?

I didn't actually start doing any exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff until my senior year of high school. I'll tell you what though. It has improved the strength of my shoulder exercises tremendously since I've started doing it. How I got started was actually very interesting. I was in the gym lifting one day and an older gentleman came up and started asking me about my weight lifting habits. I later came to find out that this guy was actually an olympic level gymnast. He taught me the exercises necessary to strengthening the rotator cuff. He told me that the rotator cuff is all of the tiny muscles inside the shoulder that hold together all of the "beach" outside muscles.

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