Strengthen External Rotators to Press More


Resistance training machines such as the Smith machine are popular with bodybuilders because the stability of the movement is higher than free weights, enabling you to train the prime movers harder. The problem is that when the athlete goes back to free weights, their weights often don’t increase significantly because of a relative weakness in the smaller muscles involved in stability. In these cases, it’s often valuable to train these smaller muscles first.

Over three decades ago Charles R. Poliquin took on the challenge of training powerlifter Cathy Millen to help her break world records in the bench press. When he first met her, he did muscle testing and found that the muscles that externally rotated her shoulders were relatively weak. He determined this imbalance to be her weakest link, and consequently he had her perform exercises for these muscles (along with the rhomboids) before bench pressing.

The Strength Sensei found that when you do stabilizer training, your bench press often increases, even if you haven’t trained the lift. In fact, by focusing on his relatively weak rotator cuff muscles, NHL player Jim McKenzie increased his close-grip bench press from 280 pounds to 331 in three months without performing the bench press! With the imbalance corrected, McKenzie started pressing again and six weeks later did 380 pounds!

BOTTOM LINE: Perform rotator cuff exercises early in a workout to correct muscle imbalances that affect your pressing ability! (TSS)

– Photo by Miloš Šarčev

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