Although the reasoning behind using low weights for rotator cuff exercises has been discussed in this post, I still feel that there is something I am uncertain about. I have heard people say about rotator cuff exercises that they are "not a muscle building exercise", for example in this video.

My questions is, lets say that you are doing the exercise with perfect form and not allowing the bigger muscles to take over (as expressed in the other fitness question linked to), should you not try to push yourself with the exercise (in order to build the muscle up)? Otherwise the muscle would surely stay at the same strength level? Or is the point only to warm it up? I have had issues with my rotator cuff and am still unsure how much to push with the exercises.

  • 2
    It surely "builds muscle" but I think the point is more about not trying to 1rm your rotator muscles, as an example.
    – Eric
    Jul 26, 2015 at 14:58
  • 2
    I have had issues with my rotator cuff and am still unsure how much to push with the exercises - Speaking from experience, rotator cuff injuries are very difficult to overcome. I would caution you to try to strengthen the cuff and not worry about pushing to build muscle.
    – rrirower
    Jul 26, 2015 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


The shoulder is an amazingly complex joint that allows for a very wide range of motion. The point of the rotator cuff is to keep the ball joint in the middle of the shoulder girdle. It is a stabilizing muscle, not a primary mover.

I think it's a big mistake to treat rehab exercises like you would strength exercises. When a physical therapist prescribes rehab exercises they do so with an attempt to restore the joint to normal operation. Increasing load on one of the exercises can make cause rehab to take longer as the stronger muscles tend to keep getting stronger and the weaker muscles tend to want to let them.

When you are given the green light to resume regular exercise, make sure you are doing so with proper form. Also make sure your assistance exercises help you keep your shoulder joint sitting right where it's supposed to when you are at rest.

  • Awesome answer. Wish I could +1 it more than once.
    – JohnP
    Jul 27, 2015 at 19:45

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