Think small muscles can’t move big weights? The rotator cuff muscles in your shoulders
may not be as noticeable as a massive set of cannonball delts, but they’re just as important for hoisting heavy loads on the bench or overhead press. To help them perform at their peak, warm them up before your next chest or shoulder workout with this exercise from Keith Scott, C.S.C.S., a strength coach in Medford, N.J.
PICK UP A SMALL MEDICINE BALL (two to four pounds), and press it into a wall in front of you with one hand (your arm should be straight, as if you were motioning for someone to stop). Do not lean forward and rest your weight against the wall.
BEGIN TRACING THE ALPHABET AGAINST THE WALL with the ball, rolling it around to form each letter. Press hard—the more pressure you use, the more your rotator cuff will be activated. When you’ve finished making all the letters, switch arms and repeat. Repeat once on both arms, and then begin your workout.
Why It Works:
“Your rotator cuff keeps your shoulder joint safely in the right position while you move it,” says Keith Scott, C.S.C.S., who also specializes in preventing and treating injuries. “By firing it up prior to a big lift, you instantly make your shoulder more stable and therefore increase its ability to handle more load. Heavier weights will now feel easier.”