2-for-1 Exercises

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You know that you need to do rotator cuff exercises, but you just don’t make time for it.  Am I right?  The rotator cuff muscles are so important for shoulder stabilization and to assist movements of the shoulder.  When you have a shoulder injury, more than likely you have injured one of these deep rotator muscles due to weakness.

Whenever I focus on rotator cuff exercises in my conditioning classes, the members are more excited to do it if I incorporate another muscle group.

*Here’s two rotator cuff exercises below that incorporate the hips – 2 muscle groups/1 exercise:

1. Internal Rotation in a Bridge Position: Targets the front of the shoulder, abs, butt/hips.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent about hip width apart, and feet flat on the floor.
  • Pull your navel in, keep your chest open, and press your shoulders down away from your ears.
  • Hold on to a LIGHT dumbbell in your right hand (I’m using a 2 pound weight); bend that elbow to 90 degrees and keep your elbow close to your side.
  • Raise your hips up by squeezing your glutes to make a straight line between your knees and shoulders.  Don’t let your knees cave in or flare out.

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  • While holding this bridge position, slowly lower your forearm to the floor and raise your arm back up to starting position.
  • Your elbow remains locked in a ‘L’ position and the motion happens in the shoulder joint only.

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  • Perform 12-25 reps and repeat the sequence with the opposite arm. Do 2-3 sets of this exercise, then lower the hips back down to the floor.

2. External Rotation with Leg Raises: Targets back of the shoulder, hips, core, and outer thigh.

  • Lay on your side, with your head resting on your bottom arm.
  • Abdominals are pulled in, chest lifted, and shoulders are retracted and depressed away from your ears.
  • Lengthen your legs as much as you can with your feet flexed.  This position will challenge your core more.  If you need more stability, bend your bottom leg.
  • Bend your top elbow to 90 degrees while holding a LIGHT weight.

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  • Keeping your elbow locked at a 90 degree angle, rotate your forearm up (as high as your shoulder will allow) while lifting your top leg up.  Don’t focus on the height of your leg lift; focus on the length of that top leg.
  • Slowly lower back down to the starting position.

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  • Perform 12-25 reps and repeat the sequence on the opposite side. Do 2-3 sets of this exercise.
  • Note:  As you raise your forearm up, DO NOT let your elbow come up off your side. When this happens, you are probably using a weight that is too heavy (and your deltoids are taking over).  Go light to do it right!  The point of this exercise is to use the deep external rotators of the shoulder.

Front View of these two exercises: image

Make time to do these important injury-preventing exercises!  It will increase your performance for any activity that you enjoy doing.

*Please see your physician before starting any new exercise program.

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3 thoughts on “2-for-1 Exercises

  1. Reminds me of the Bridge pose in Pilates – love it! Excellent workout for the hamstrings that (for me) are forever tight. For a few weeks now I have incorporated jogging into my workout. I haven’t been to the YMCA (it’s summer after all and I prefer outdoor physical activity – but in the early evening). If the weather is too rainy for a combo of walking and jogging, I have three Kathy Smith aerobic vids.

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