3 Rotator Cuff Exercises To Try

The shoulder is the most often injured body part in CrossFit workouts.  That’s probably due to how shoulder intensive most WODs can be.


✔️pull ups

✔️push ups

✔️overhead presses

That’s just to name a few.  Quite honestly, if it involves your arms, the rotator cuff is probably involved. 

The shoulder is not a weight-bearing joint.  In other words it’s not like the hips or knees which are designed to take stress everyday.  Therefore we need to show our shoulders some love to help keep up with the demands of CrossFit.

The rotator cuff does more than just rotate the shoulder, it’s a dynamic stabilizer, which means that it helps keep your shoulder joint in place when you’re performing all the moves I listed before, as well as the ones I didn’t.

CrossFit WODs can often miss the boat when it comes to baseline rotator cuff strength.  We don’t need to be fancy, here are some great exercises to get you started in building some bulletproof shoulders.

1.) Full Can Exercise

  • Start with your hands at your side.
  • Slowly raise a very light weight up to parallel to the ground focusing on keep your shoulder blades squeezed together and actively pulled down (think: anti-shrug) 
  • Hold at the top and slowly lower back to the beginning position.
  • These can also be done from 90degrees and up overhead. 


2.) Side Lying External Rotation  

  • Start by laying on your side with elbow bent with a pad underneath it.
  • Using a very lightweight rotate the arm  parallel to your body.  
  • Slowly lower the arm back towards the floor focusing on a controlled eccentric movement.


3.) Face pull & External Rotation 

  • Start with the arms out in front. 
  • Keeping your upper arm parallel to the ground pull a band to eye level.
  • Rotate your arms up over your head being sure to focus on keeping the elbows level to the ground and  rotating the band over your head.


Throw these three in 3 times a week for 3 weeks and watch how much freer and stronger your shoulders feel.  If you're shoulders are acting up and you're looking for some exercises to keep them in check or your just looking to improve your mobility.  These three drills are go-to's for shoulder health.

As with most accessory movements it’s important to remember that the name of the game is consistency of execution, low weight and relatively high repetition.  

Try these out and let us know how they work for you!

Justin Gilman