It gives you that look of confidence, the look of strength, and makes everyday physical tasks easier. But typically we train them incorrectly paying too much attention to one and neglecting the others.
And inevitably injury happens. And then you are out for weeks. Think of putting all your money into upgrading the appearance of your house: new kitchen with marble countertops, upgraded bathroom with a jacuzzi tub, expensive flooring but because you spent all your money on the things you see, there’s no money left to address the weak, crumbling foundation. No one sees the foundation so you don’t make it a priority. But this is what holds up the house that has the new kitchen, bathroom, floors. Then one day the foundation fails and your floors now have big cracks because of the shifting understructure. The countertop also cracked because the cabinets shifted due to the floor shifting. A lot of money wasted due to not addressing a weakening base.
In my opinion, most of us have this issue when it comes to our shoulders. We don’t know, or we don’t take the time. We want large shoulders, who doesn’t, but we don’t take the time to strengthen the supporting structure and then we end up overworking the front of our shoulders, neglect the rear of our shoulders and most importantly we neglect our rotator cuff. This generally leads to injury the most common injury being tendon injuries.
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that hold the shoulder joint in place. It’s what allows you the vast amount of freedom in the movement of the shoulders. Our shoulders have an enormous amount of range of motion. And when we encur a shoulder injury it can have a great impact because we use our shoulders all the time: picking things up, putting things away, driving, lifting, etc.
The rotator cuff is comprised of 4 muscles along with the tendons that join them:
- Supraspinatus. This holds your humerus in place and keeps your upper arm stable. And helps lift your arm.
- Infraspinatus. This is the main muscle that lets you rotate and extend your shoulder.
- Teres Minor. This is the smallest rotator cuff muscle. Its main job is to assist with rotation of the arm away from the body.
- Subscapularis. This holds your upper arm bone to your shoulder blade and helps you rotate your arm, hold it straight out and lower it.
Let’s look at exercises that we can do to strengthen our rotator cuff:
- Resisted External Rotation: Holding a resistance band of the appropriate resistance, have your arms tucked tight to your sides bent at the elbows at 90 degree angle having hands out in front of you holding the band in both hands. Now, holding the band in both hands move your hands outwardly like a swinging door, then bring back to the start. To reiterate, you start with hands straight in front of you, bent at the elbows, holding the band in both hands and then keeping elbows tight to your sides, rotate hands/lower arms outwardly away from your body.
- Side lying external rotation: Lie on your right side (left if you are left-handed) keeping your body stabilized and your upper arm bent at the elbow at 90 degrees (your hand should almost be on the floor). Holding a light weighted dumbbell slowly lift the hand up towards the ceiling keeping your elbow tight to your body. This is the same motion as the above exercise.
- External rotation at 90 degrees: Stay with me on this one. Put your arms straight out in front of you like you are a zombie. Now, bring your elbows back without dropping your arms so you have a 90 degree bend in your arms but your hands are still out in front. Great, that’s it. Now that you know the starting position you can do this exercise with a dumbbell or band. The goal here is to then rotate at the shoulder bringing your hands up, but still keeping your upper arm parallel with the floor. So you should look like a robber told you to stick them up, but your upper arms are parallel with the floor, and lower arm is vertical. That’s the rotation, from this position back to the starting position.
Have you done these before? Probably not. It falls into the same category as stretching, no one does it. But do them to help prevent injury and without injury you can train using exercises that will give you bigger shoulders.
And if you are doing a lot of pushups, or bench presses I hope you are doing exercises for the rear delts. Those rear delts get neglected so bad and they are screaming out for attention. So do it and along with working out the rear delts be sure to stretch the front delts because for sure they are super tight (all those push ups)
Lastly, when doing any shoulder exercise do your best to follow proper technique and also don’t overload with weight. Keep it to clean slow smooth motion. And if you feel any pain at all while exercising STOP! Never exercise a muscle when feeling pain.
Strengthen the rotator cuff, stretch the tight front deltoid and you will be better prepared to build strong, large shoulders that will give you more confidence.
Yours in health,