After 10 years in the fitness industry, I’ve certainly got to see my fair share of interesting exercises over the years.
Some invented by trainers, others invented by regular ‘gym-goers’ who honestly just know no better.
I will be the first to admin, I have done some stupid exercise but I am glad to say they are no longer in the tool box.
I’ve spent my fair share of time working or training in commercial gyms.
From my experience, I’ve observed that people in that enviroment generally just learn by watching others, particularly those they look up to…
Commercial gyms are home to ‘bro science’ where methods are tried and tested and with that - there is a lot of monkey see, monkey do…
But we have all been there, I think this is completely normal and acknowledge this is how so many people get started.
I’m certainly not a ‘no research - no use’ guy, but there must be some consideration for what works and what doesn’t.
I feel that to train optimally, you must understand anatomy. Without considering this, it becomes hard to train a muscle effectively.
This exercise has to be one of my favourites that I see performed very regularly.
Now this is my thinking...
I understand that this exercise was probably seen as a progression to the banded external rotation that was prescribed by a physio. It was then passed down as a ‘warm up’ through weight room culture without fully understanding what is happening.
The issue is not the intention, I love the idea of warming up the external rotators before training the upper body.
The strategy is great, however, the issue lies with the effectiveness of the exercise.
We must take into consideration ‘line of pull’ and when selecting exercises.
Here is the issue...
Holding two dumbbells at 90 degree elbow flexion and externally rotating is going to lead to a greater stimulus placed on the biceps rather than the external rotators.
Gravity is pulling the weights towards the floor, not towards the body (like the band / cable).
The interesting thing about bodybuilding is you have to be quite creative with manipulating the position of your body to use a ‘free weight’ to stimulate a muscle.
Some muscles are easier to train than others, and training the external rotators effectively requires some more thought than picking up two dumbbells and flicking them to the side.
To make this easy, here is the strategy I suggest:
You will find this is a much better alternative than the first exercise. Although this suggestion maybe looks a little funny, I can confirm it’s a much superior exercise regardless of if it is chosen for a warm up or accessory lift in your workout.
Just remember not to make eye contact across the room 😉
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