Building Rotator Cuff Strength for Strong and Pain-Free Shoulders - Shifted Fitness & Performance

Building Rotator Cuff Strength for Strong and Pain-Free Shoulders

Are you experiencing stiffness, pulling, sharp pains, or any other discomfort in your shoulders when doing overhead movements or certain pulling motions? If you are, you might have weak rotator cuffs. This is a short overview of what the rotator cuff is, why it’s important, and how we can strengthen it.

Let’s start with the “what.” What is the rotator cuff? The acronym SITS will help you to remember the 4 muscles of the rotator cuff in the shoulders. 

unnamedS upraspinatus

I nfraspinstus.

T eres minor

S upscapulari


These muscles are responsible for several actions we do with our shoulder, such as rotating in both directions (hence the name), raising your arm to shoulder height, and reaching behind your back. All of these are motions we do in our day to day lives, and especially when we are in the gym. If you have a weak or injured rotator cuff, you will usually notice you can’t do daily activities such as throwing a ball, reaching above to grab something, or itching a spot on your back without experiencing pain. The rotator cuff muscles also have the role of keeping your arm stabilized and in place. This means that weakness or fatigue can cause the arm and shoulder joint to lose position and cause further injury.


So, how do we prevent these muscles from weakness and injury? Strengthen and mobilize!

To strengthen the rotator cuff we simply have to perform safe repetition of the action that the muscle does! That means we need to rotate, raise, pull, and carry. Before we go into detail on what exercises to do, we need to talk about how we do them.

  1. The reps should always be slow and controlled. We are not doing these exercises for time.
  2. Go through the full range of motion.
  3. Don’t go as heavy as possible. Use weights that are challenging but not something that is going to cause you to compensate somewhere else.

Now onto the “how.” How do we work on these muscles? To begin the strengthening of the rotator cuff and shoulder as a whole, we highly recommend using The Crossover Symmetry bands and following the routine they provide. We suggest doing each exercise for 10 reps before or after as many workouts as you can, for at least 3 days per week.

Other exercises you can include into your regimen are:

  • Strict pull ups
  • Lateral raises
  • Front raises
  • Scapula pull ups

Another way to keep your shoulders healthy is to stay nice and flexy!  There are many stretches to keep your shoulders nice and loose. Here are a few to try out!

Before workout: perform 10 reps of the following

  • Arm circles
  • Shoulder openers
  • Inch worms

Post workout:

  • Puppy dog pose hold :30 seconds
  • Scorpions with pause: 10 reps
  • Banded lat. stretch :30 sec/ side
  • Banded front rack stretch :30 sec/ side

The best way to strengthen your shoulders and upper body is to keep your rotator cuff strong and healthy. Make sure when we perform these exercises and stretches that you start light and progress your way through them!


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