Rotator cuff exercises have been a hot topic throughout the past decade. The movements are usually done with pink dumbbells since the muscles are fairly weak and cannot handle a lot of stress, especially in isolation. However, is that pink dumbbell manifest really necessary? Do you have to isolate the rotator cuff muscles?
Truth be told, there is no need for rotator cuff isolation if the rest of your program is balanced. The best exercise for the shoulder girdle is the overhead press with a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. The movement works the rotator cuff muscles in isometric fashion and removes the need to search for pink dumbbells or tuna cans.
Before bench pressing became popular, people were mostly doing overhead work, and rotator cuff injuries were unheard of. Do you think that’s a coincidence or maybe, just maybe, the overhead press makes the shoulder girdle super strong?
Unless you are rehabilitating an injury, and you want to add some mobility exercises to your shoulder regimen, there’s no need to fool around with isolation movements. Alternatively, you could also rely on rotator cuff exercises as a warm-up, but don’t expect them to turn your shoulders into bulletproof canons.
What do you think has more impact on the end result – a heavy overhead press or external and internal rotations with a can of Coca-Cola?
Another really good exercise for the rotator cuff is the push-up because it allows the scapula to move freely unlike the bench press. As a result, the push-up involves more stabilizers and promotes shoulder health.
Finally, don’t forget that you need a lot of back work to prevent shoulder imbalances between the front and rear deltoids.
And by the way, when done correctly, the overhead press works all three heads of the shoulder, although the anterior deltoid is always the primary mover.
To summarize: Some rotator cuff exercises could serve as a rehabilitation, warm-up and mobility work, but you shouldn’t rely on similar movements to develop a super strong shoulder girdle.