External Shoulder Rotation Exercises

Confident mature man throwing American football against clear blue sky
The external rotation muscles help you wind your arm up to throw a ball. (Image: matthewennisphotography/iStock/Getty Images)

The external rotation muscles make activities like washing your hair and throwing a ball possible. Train them through their full and versatile range of motion also allows them to provide stability to the shoulder joint and help your posture by retracting, or opening up, the shoulders. A variety of exercises strengthen these important muscles.

Young woman exercising with a resistance band and looking at the camera isolated on white background
Flashers use a band to challenge the external rotation muscles. (Image: Ljupco/iStock/Getty Images)


Flashers use a resistance band to challenge the external rotation muscles in both arms simultaneously.

Side-Lying Dumbbell Rotation

This exercise uses a weight and the force of gravity to strengthen the lateral rotation muscles.

External Rotation Step Outs

Step outs help improve shoulder stability by challenging the external rotator muscles to maintain a steady position against resistance.

90-90 Rotation

By moving your shoulder into an end-range position, this exercise gives your external rotators a great workout.

Prone Tosses

Prone tosses challenge the lateral rotator muscles to provide stability by incorporating a moving weight.

Parameters and Precautions

For a well-rounded, external rotator strengthening workout, perform two to three sets of each exercise two to three times weekly. Avoid shrugging the shoulders while completing these exercises as this can lead to pain or injury.


Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.