Rotator Cuff Training – Part 2

The shoulders are the most movable and unstable joints, and next to the fingers they are the most at-risk body parts for rock climbers. This is the second of two articles detailing ways to strengthen the muscles that protect the rotator cuff. Last month covered the important Internal Rotation exercise. As shown below, this article instructs on cuff training with External Rotation.

External Rotation



  • Lie on your side with your bottom arm belt to support your head.
  • Hold a two- to five-pound dumbbell in the hand of your top arm. Rest the upper arm and elbow on the top side of your body, and then bend at the elbow so that your forearm hangs down over your belly and the weight rests on the floor.
  • Now raise the weight upward toward the ceiling until your forearm passes a parallel position with the floor.
  • Pause at this top position for a moment, then lower the weight to the floor. Your upper arm should remain in contact with the side of your torso and act only as a hinge that allows your forearm to swing up and down.
  • Continue in a slow, but steady motion for a total of fifteen repetitions.
  • Do two sets on each side, with a three-minute rest between each set.
  • Training tip: Increase weight in one or two-pound increments, but do not exceed ten pounds. Use of heavy resistance is not necessary or desirable.
  • Safety tip: Stop immediately if you exercise any pain in the shoulder. Try using a lighter weight.
  • Alternatively, you can train external rotation in the standing position using an exercise band. With your arm bent at 90 degrees, your elbow held by your side, and your hand in near your navel, pull the exercise band outward.

    Copyright 2009 Eric J. Hörst. All rights reserved.