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Shoulder Anatomy 101

If we had to give a prize to the most impressive group of muscles in our body, our shoulders would be a solid contender. We’re well aware of their range of motion, but just how much do we actually know about our shoulders?

Unfortunately, the incredible mobility the shoulder joint provides does come at a cost- stability. This joint is often referred to as a golf ball sitting on a tee. Lucky for you, Tiger Woods isn’t gearing up to take a swing at your shoulder to send your progress flying down the fairway.

Our crash course on shoulder anatomy will ensure your shoulders stay strong and injury free.

To begin with, they’re made up of about 20 muscles and 5 joints.

The two main groups of muscles we should be most concerned about when we train are deltoids and rotator cuffs. The rotator cuff muscles lie underneath your deltoids and work in conjunction to create strong, fluid movements.

We’re going to delve a little deeper into the rotator cuff.

Rotator Cuff Muscles

The rotator cuff consists of 4 muscles, and it’s their job to hold down the fort (stabilise) as well as assist with humeral movement. Unless we skipped around the gym with flashcards, the shoulder muscle names can be quite hard to remember. However, it’s worth having a shot, or at least ensuring you’re knowledgeable about their roles.

  1. Infraspinatus

Contributes to motions such as rolling your bicep away from the body, or extending the arm upwards.

  1. Tres minor

Assists his brother, Infraspinatus, with the same ranges of movement.

  1. Supraspinatus

Contributes to the movement of lateral raises and overhead motions. This guy is also the most commonly injured!

  1. Subscapularis

Contributes to internal rotation, extension and bringing the arm towards the body. This muscle unintentionally gets quite the workout in a regular training program, meaning he doesn’t require as much individual attention.

So why must we train these muscles of the shoulder? First and foremost, to prevent injury. Secondly, if you’re seeking growth and strength in your delts, lats and pecs, the muscles of the rotator cuff need to be taken care of. Our muscles are gym buddies too, and they won’t leave a man behind. The body won’t allow progress in some muscles if there is an imbalance. By strengething the rotator cuff muscles, you’re encouraging the more visible muscles such as your delts, to grow.

So now we know just how important these muscles are, how exactly do we train them?

Replace your shoulder routine with some exercises specifically developed to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles. Some beneficial exercises include Barbell Cuban Presses, L-Lateral Raises, Side-Lying Dumbbell Abductions to 45° and Low Pulley External Rotations. They work best at the end of a chest training session!

Having this basic understanding allows us to train smart, see results and reach our full potential!