Weight Training For Dummies
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External and internal rotation exercises target your rotator-cuff muscles but strengthen your shoulder muscles as well. If these movements bother your neck, try resting your head on your outstretched arm.

Performing rotation exercises

Follow these steps to perform these exercises:
  1. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and lie on the floor on your left side.

  2. Bend your right elbow to a 90-degree angle and tuck it firmly against your side so that your palm is facing downward.

  3. Pull your abdominals in.

  4. Bend your left elbow and rest the side of your head in your left hand.

  5. Keeping your right elbow glued to your side, raise your right hand as far as you comfortably can.

  6. Slowly lower the weight back toward the floor.

    This exercise is external rotation.

  7. After you complete all the repetitions, switch the weight to your left hand and lie on your back.

    You can also do this exercise lying on one side on the bench, with your forearm hanging off the bench.

  8. Bend your elbow so your forearm is perpendicular to the floor and your palm is facing in.

  9. Lower your hand down and out to the side as far as you can, and then lift the weight back up.

    This exercise is internal rotation.

    Internal and external rotation exercises work your rotator-cuff muscles. [Credit: Photograph by Sun ©Sunstreak Productions, Inc.

Tips for external and internal rotation exercises

Keep these tips in mind as you perform rotation exercises:

  • Use a very light weight.

  • Imagine that your shoulder is the hinge of a door that is opening and closing.

  • Keep your wrist straight.

Gym alternative: Cable internal and external rotation exercises

Use cable internal and external rotation exercises as an alternative in the gym. Follow these steps:
  1. Attach a horseshoe handle to the upper cable pulley and grasp the handle with your right hand so that your right arm is alongside the cable tower.

  2. Bend your arm so your forearm is in front of your body and parallel to the floor, and your elbow rests against your side.

  3. Pull the handle across your body to lift the weight, and then slowly return your arm to the starting position.

    This exercise is internal rotation.

  4. After you complete your reps, do external rotation with your left rotator cuff: Without changing position, hold the horseshoe handle in your left hand, so your forearm is across your waist.

  5. Keeping your left elbow against your side, pull the handle outward to lift the weight.

  6. To lower the weight, return to the starting position.

  7. To complete internal and external rotation on both arms, switch to the other side of the cable tower or turn your body around.

    Cable internal and external rotation exercises target your rotator-cuff muscles. [Credit: Photograp ©Sunstreak Productions, Inc.

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