Push your elbow across your chest to stretch your shoulder.
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The supraspinatus is the most commonly injured muscle in the rotator cuff group, so doing exercises to strengthen it is important for your overall shoulder and arm functionality. When you're working out, the supraspinatus and the infraspinatus both assist your shoulders in external rotation, but they are also useful for shoulder abduction and stabilization. The rotator cuff muscles crown your shoulder as the joint with the greatest range of motion in your body, and these exercises help them retain that title.
Tailor Workouts to Your Goals
Any exercise for your supraspinatus and infraspinatus can be beneficial, but the number of reps and sets you perform should be dictated by your specific goals. The weight you select should fatigue your muscles by the last two reps. For strength gains, aim for two to six sets of four to eight reps. For muscular endurance, shoot for two or three sets of 12 to 16 reps. If you're simply seeking general fitness, strive for one to three sets of eight to 15 reps.
Raise Your Arms for the Supraspinatus
A number of muscles are utilized to complete the dumbbell front lateral raise, but the supraspinatus is the only rotator cuff muscle used, allowing you to focus on the muscle you want. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Extend your arm and hold the dumbbell against your right thigh. Twist your wrist so your pinky finger is facing away from your thigh. Raise your arm to the right and slightly to the front until your hand is about level with your chin. Keep your arm extended and repeat for desired reps before switching arms.
Lie Down for the Infraspiantus
Since the dumbbell lying shoulder external rotation only requires two other muscles to complete, nearly all of the force is exerted by infraspinatus, thus giving you the maximum gains on your work. Get on the ground and lie on your left side with a dumbbell in your right hand. Bend your legs comfortably in front of your body, and use your left hand to support your head. Place your right elbow against your right side and let your forearm lay across your tummy, forming a 90-degree angle with your right arm. Keeping the angle, rotate your arm up until your forearm is almost perpendicular with the floor. Lower and repeat for desired reps before switching arms.
Stand and Rotate for Both
This exercise, the dumbbell upright shoulder rotation, will incorporate most of your rotator cuff, teaching your muscles to work and function together. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a dumbbell in your right arm. Place your left hand on your hip or behind your back. Position your right arm at a 90-degree angle up and to the side of your body. The weight should be about level with you head. Without changing the angle in your arm, rotate the weight forward until your forearm is about perpendicular with the floor. Rotate back up and repeat for desired reps before switching arms.
Keep it Safe
The rotator cuff isn't a powerhouse of muscle, so even if your goal is to strengthen the area, start with a light weight to prevent injuries and work your way up from there. Warm up with a light jog or jumping jacks. Never compromise form to finish a set, and if you can't end with the same form you started with, reduce the weight.