Shoulder Rotator Exercise – Low to High External Shoulder Rotation

Protect your shoulders with this easy exercise at home or at the gym!
A wonderful rehab type of exercise to focus on the rotator muscles within the shoulder joint, this exercise can be done with a theraband or a cable machine with very light weight. For more information on using the cable machine specifically, make sure to watch the video for how to set it up.
This exercise helps strengthen the muscles that set a solid foundation for a strong shoulder. Your ‘rotators’ are not the shoulder muscles you see from the outside but are located deep within, helping to perform a variety of motions along with the more superficial and often larger shoulder muscles. Almost more importantly, they help to stabilize the head of the humerus inside the joint while still allowing for good mobility. Because they add so much stability, you can see how important exercises like these are to prevent injury like dislocation of the shoulder.
Here are a few key pointers for this exercise:

  • Your arm will move in a diagonal pattern across and up your body. Begin with a straight arm down and across your body as much as possible. Move your arm up and out to finish with your arm still straight but as high a possible to the outside of the body (same side as the arm being used).
  • At the midpoint of your range of motion, the arm will be roughly straight out in front of the same shoulder.
  • Keep the shoulder that is working from coming up toward your ear. Create lots of space down your neck, between your ear and your shoulder.
  • Any contorting of the body or shoulder in order to fully lift your arm may mean that the weight, although light to start with, may be too high. Give yourself more slack on the band or reduce the weight on the cable.
  • This exercise can also be performed with a small dumbbell. Start with anything 5# or lighter.


Want help with this or other shoulder stabilizing exercises? Schedule your free 90 minute consultation.
Addie Kelzer is a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. She believes that by making fitness and good food practical, her clients will hold the power to positively change their health and the health of those closest to them.