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High Performance Training without the Equipment: Installment 2

Posted Jan 04 2011 12:03pm

It goes without saying that one of the absolute best ways to strengthen the posterior rotator cuff is through a variety of cable external rotation variations.

Unfortunately – as you may have inferred from the title of this post – not everyone has access to a cable column or functional trainer where exercises like this can be performed.  To that end, I thought I’d devote today’s post to a few exercises one can substitute to get a very similar training effect without cable access.

Option 1: Elbow-Supported DB External Rotation

This movement parallels that of the cable option, but all you need is a dumbbell and something to prop your upper arm.  The only downside is that the resistance just isn’t as “continuous” throughout the range of motion – but it’s still a good option.

Options 2 and 3: Horizontal Abduction Variations

While the recruitment patterns aren’t going to be exactly the same, it’s safe to say that you’re getting almost all the same benefits when you do horizontal abduction work as with true external rotation work (and likely a bit extra scapular stabilization benefits).  Two variations I like:

Prone Horizontal Abduction off Table

Side-Lying Horizontal Abduction (I like to load this one up more eccentrically and focus on really controlling the load on the way down)

Option 4: Side-Lying External Rotations – arm abducted 30 degrees

This movement might not be the most “specific” of all rotator cuff exercises because of the position in which it occurs, but it does give you the best posterior cuff EMG of just about any drill.  We use it a ton, especially in those who may have pain with positions requiring more shoulder elevation.

These drills are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the modifications you can use – and, indeed, what should comprise a comprehensive shoulder health program.  However, they should be enough to help you work around the lack of a cable in your resistance training arsenal.

For more information, check out our Optimal Shoulder Performance DVD set .

Related Posts

High Performance Training without the Equipment: Installment 1
Clearing up the Rotator Cuff Controversy

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