Exercise of the Week: Prone Row to External Rotation

The Infraspinatus

The prone row to external rotation is a simple, yet effective exercise for improving scapular stability and external rotator strength at the shoulder.  At IFAST, we often use these in the early stages of training to improve motor control.  Once motor control is improved, all the “big-bang” exercies like dumbbell rows, chest supported rows, PNF exercises, etc., immediatey have a greater impact.

Lay face down on an incline bench, with the arms hanging down from the torso.  I will often cue people to allow their scapulae to protract; not only does this increase the range of motion, but it also allows a bit of pre-stretch on the rhomboids and middle trapezius.

There are essentially four steps to this exercise:

1 – Initial row/scapular retraction

2 – External rotation of the shoulder

3 – Internal rotation of the shoulder

4 – Return to starting position

I really like this exercise because not only does it improve motor control through the mid-back, but it teaches people to externally rotate on top of a stable scapulae.  This is often something that many beginners have issues with.

Good luck and good training!

Stay strong



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  1. Mike,
    Are you coaching these with rotation beginning with the scapulae actively fixed back and down? Or is there less cuing about the retraction and more on the rotation?
    Carson Boddicker

  2. Hi Mike
    Thank you for the great education for us up-and-comers. I really enjoy the physiological/practicality of the protocols you use. I’m very excited to get A & C very soon. Congratulations on your integrity and being a premier example for all other fitness professionals.
    Von Gillette

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