Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Strong Healthy Shoulders: The Super Set

Strong Healthy Shoulders: The Super Set
A1) Side-Lying Dumbbell External Rotation

To all you competitive bodybuilders and European females, accidentally spilling Nair on your nipples is nothing compared to this combination of exercises. Take it from me, this superset will burn like crazy!

The side-lying dumbbell external rotation works the teres minor, the other rotator cuff muscle responsible for, you guessed it, external rotation. This is an exercise commonly prescribed by many therapists to rehabilitate an injured shoulder, but it also serves as an excellent strength and conditioning movement if performed correctly. In fact, Ian King thinks of it as one of the most valuable external rotation drills.

Start by lying on your side with your knees bent slightly for comfort and support. Grab onto a light dumbbell and keep your upper arm bent at 90 degrees throughout the exercise. (Of course, when performing unilateral movements, always start with your weak side first.) Rest your head on your lower arm, not your hand, to keep the cervical spine neutral. This point may seem trivial, but is actually very important and will make a difference in strength.

Keeping the wrist of your working arm straight and firm, rotate the dumbbell backward as far as you can but never go beyond perpendicular to the floor. Then, in a smooth fashion, lower the weight without it ever touching the ground. Try to keep your elbow glued to your side and minimize the amount of flaring for best results.

If you think that taking an ice cold bath is a humbling experience, try to impress a chick with this exercise. You won't! I've even had some men start with a semi-filled water bottle on this one! (I didn't have the heart to hand them a soup can.) On average, though, most men use between five to ten pounds. Again, keep the reps fairly high in the 12 to15 range.

With external rotations in particular, it's wise to use small loading progressions. The five pound jump typical on most dumbbell racks may be too much. You'll be quite surprised what a difference only five pounds makes in this exercise! If you have access to PlateMates then you can take advantage of microloading for continued strength gains.

The other option is to manipulate the tempo. By slowing down the speed of execution, you can effectively make this exercise more difficult. Moreover, by altering trunk position, you can influence the strength curve and control the level of difficulty You can do this by rotating your trunk forward to make the exercise more difficult; rotate back and it's a breeze. This is a trick I learned from Jerry Telle and his concept of Tellekinetics.

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