Fitness tip - Shoulder external rotation-to-press

Fitness tip - Shoulder external rotation-to-press

by Evigan Xiao 19 Dec 2018

Snatches and presses are very common movements in today's functional fitness environment; it's not a rare sight to see lifters performing these exercises even in commercial gym environments. Yet as beneficial as they are, multi-joint movements can be difficult to troubleshoot due the number of muscle groups they involve.


Take for instance an uneven overhead position (one side lower than the other). At first glance, some might attribute it to an imbalance in shoulder strength. However, the crux of the issue can just as easily lie with stability as it does with strength. As the old saying goes, “you can't fire a cannon from a row boat”. Without adequate stability, the ability to express strength gets adversely affected.


When it comes to supporting a load overhead, the muscles that surround the back of the shoulder – the lats, rhomboids and rotator cuff – all play a part in keeping the shoulder joint secured. A dysfunction would result in a shoulder that “floats”, much like how a ship without an anchor would bob and turn. If face-pulls and dumbbell rows fail to reap any appreciable results, consider giving the shoulder external rotation-to-press a try.


Location and equipment courtesy of TripleFit


The external rotation-to-press is basically a combo movement that combines the act of rowing and pressing while actively factoring in an external rotation of the shoulder. The act of externally rotating at the shoulder joint requires the musculature around the rear of the shoulder to fire, and flexing the shoulder at this point teaches the body how to apply such a practice in a specific position.


You don't need a lot of weight for this exercise to be effective; the load used in this video is only a little bit more than 3kg. In lieu of a cable machine, a light resistance band works just as well. Performing three to five repetitions of this should be enough to create an immediate effect, although regular sessions would be more desirable in terms of creating longer lasting change.


Imbalances can turn into a truly ugly affair if left unchecked, so it's always best to remain vigilant against such lapses. Recording your sets or having a friend spot you as you train are good methods for ensuring that you don't fall into poor movement habits. Even if you do, it's nice to know that there's always a way out!