The 7 best exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff

Whenever we climb, play tennis, lift weights or do any similar activity, we put pressure and wear on our shoulders, the consequences of which we see sooner or later.

The rotator cuff , a muscle group located in the shoulder, is one of the most affected areas: every year thousands of people go to the doctor for pain or tension in the upper muscles, and an average of 1 in 5 of these cases is due to to tear in this area.

These cases only become more and more common over the years, as we approach old age, so looking for exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff is more than necessary if we want to perform endless activities that depend on it.

Los mejores ejercicios para entrenar el manguito rotador

What is the rotator cuff?

The rotator cuff is a term used to group four muscles responsible for stabilizing the glenohumeral joint: the supraspinatus, the infraspinatus, the teres minor, and the subscapularis.

Thanks to these four muscles, the shoulder becomes one of the areas of the body with the greatest capacity for movement and elasticity of the human body; But this advantage can be a double-edged sword, since the greater the freedom of movement there is more wear and tear and a greater risk of injury.

When we have poor posture or do exercises that put a lot of strain on our shoulders, the rotator cuff stops working properly . When this happens, the humerus (bone that joins the shoulder and elbow) shifts. This causes stress on the front of the shoulder, and if this is not remedied, we can end up with an injury. This happens more often than anyone can imagine.

Fortalecer músculos del manguito rotador

7 exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff

The rotator cuff muscles work like the other muscles in the body. This means that for them to work properly, we must condition them with flexibility, strength and stability exercises, and not just with the internal and external rotation exercises that we are used to.

These are the 7 best exercises to strengthen these muscles.

1. Angel against the wall

The angel against the wall is a flexibility exercise that tests the posture of your shoulders and back. This means that if it is extremely easy for you to perform, either you have very good posture or you are doing it poorly. Pay attention to how it is done:


  • Start standing up, with your head, upper and lower back leaning against the wall and with your feet about 12 cm forward.
  • Bending your shoulders to the sides, rest your arms against the wall, so that your arms make full contact with the surface.
  • Without separating yourself from the wall, raise your hands above your head, making them slide across the surface from top to bottom.
  • Do this exercise for one minute, twice a day.

2. External rotation with elastic band

This is a strength exercise that works the rotator cuff in isolation . For its execution to be adequate, it must be done in a neutral way, so you may want to execute it first without the elastic band, until you get used to the movement.


  • Put an elastic band at the approximate height of your navel, and stand sideways to its support, holding it with the opposite hand.
  • Keeping your elbow firmly on your side, stretch the band from the inside out.
  • Do 3 sets of 15 reps each.

3. External rotation at 90 ° abduction

You can do this exercise first without weight or with a very light weight. Once the movement is natural, you can move on to executing it with the elastic band.


  • Put an elastic band approximately at chest level.
  • Hold the handle of the band with your right hand, also raising the elbow to shoulder height.
  • Before executing the movement, apply light pressure with your shoulder blades and abdomen.
  • Stretch the band so that you bring your forearm as far back as you can, but be careful not to bend your wrist.
  • Slowly return to the starting position. Do about 3 sets of 10 reps each.

4. Sliding forearms against the wall

Mixing arm resistance with posture work, this exercise is one of the best for working your shoulders.


  • Lean against a wall, with an elastic resistance band around your forearms.
  • Your forearms should be shoulder width apart and flat against the wall.
  • Without moving away from the wall, start sliding your forearms up and then back down.
  • Perform the movement over and over for 30 seconds, for a total of 3 sets.

5. Inverted oars

The inverted row exercise is one of the best for the upper body: the force that this exercise gives to your traps, triceps and others, will help you have a better posture and a stronger rotator cuff .


  • Holding two TRX bands or the bar of a squat machine, let yourself hang with your arms extended and open to the width of your shoulders.
  • Bending your elbows, rise until your chest touches the bar. Your abdomen and buttocks should have light pressure as you perform the movement.
  • Return to the starting position and complete 3 sets of 10 reps.

6. Elevated plank with weight shift

This raised plank exercise not only makes your rotator cuff have to struggle to stabilize your shoulder, but it also works your serratus anterior, scapula stabilizer, and abs. By moving a weight from one point to another, you also build resistance in the infraspinatus muscle .


  • Start in an elevated plank position, with a kettlebell or kettlebell right next to your right hand.
  • Move your left arm toward the weight, lift it, and leave it outside, next to your left arm.
  • Repeat the movement in reverse, with your right arm.
  • Perform the movement for 30 seconds, until completing 3 series.

7. Turkish uprising

This exercise is ideal for working your shoulders together, applying strength and stability in a coupled movement.


  • Start on the floor on your back, holding a kettlebell with one arm extended upward. The leg on the side you are holding the kettlebell with should be bent.
  • Extend the trunk diagonally, resting the forearm of the free arm on the ground.
  • Raise the trunk, passing the fulcrum to the hand of the free arm.


  • Leung, Kenneth. 10 Best Exercises To Strengthen Your Rotator Cuff. For BuiltLean. [Revised January 2017]