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Exercises for Teres Minor Muscles

author image Lisa M. Wolfe
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.
Exercises for Teres Minor Muscles
A woman is using a lightly weighted barbell in a gym. Photo Credit: artisteer/iStock/Getty Images

You probably are not aware of your teres minor muscle until you experience shoulder pain. The teres minor is one of the muscles that makes up the area known as the rotator cuff. You need the teres minor for overhead throwing motions and to externally rotate your arm. Deep within your shoulder, the teres minor is strengthened with exercises based on muscle rotation.

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Small but Mighty

The teres minor is located on the back of each of your shoulder blades. It is a small muscle that connects the lower portion of each shoulder blade to the top of each upper arm bone. During exercises that cause rotation of the shoulder, the teres minor does not work alone. The infraspinatus, supraspinatus and subscapularis work as a group to improve your shoulder strength and range of motion.


One of the most effective exercises for strengthening the teres minor is the side-lying external rotation exercise. Usually performed with a dumbbell as resistance, the side-lying rotation is performed with you lying on your right side to start. Hold onto the dumbbell in your left hand. Bend your left arm to a 90-degree angle and rest the elbow on your side. Rest your left hand near the floor in front of your stomach. Exhale and raise your left hand until your forearm is perpendicular to the floor. Inhale and return to the starting position. After completing your desired number of repetitions, repeat the exercise using your right arm.

Looking Up

Another way to perform the external rotation for the teres minor is from a face up position. Lie with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your arms out to the sides so you are in a "T" shape. Bend your elbows to 90-degree angles, resting your elbows and upper arms on the floor with your forearms perpendicular to the floor. Exhale and lower your hands backward until your hands and forearms touch the floor. Inhale and return to the starting position.

Face Down

You can also improve your teres minor from a prone position. Lie face down on a table or a weight bench and let your right arm hang straight down off the side of the bench. Hold onto a dumbbell in your right hand with your palm facing back. Exhale and raise your straight arm to the side until your hand is parallel with your shoulder. Inhale and return to the starting position. Complete the same number of repetitions on each shoulder.

Minor Improvements

Warm your shoulders before you strengthen them. Spend five to 10 minutes doing full-body movements such as walking, marching in place, dancing or cycling. You can exercise your teres minor every other day, with at least one day of rest in between. Aim to do one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of the rotational exercises. Use a light weight, but one that causes the final two repetitions of each set to be challenging. If you experience any discomfort, speak with your physician before continuing your workout.

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