Issue Date: December 2009 Web Features, Posted On: 12/9/2009

Functionally Fit: Prone Horizontal Abduction Raises
By Brian Schiff

Brian continues his Functionally Fit shoulder miniseries with prone horizontal abduction raises. The purpose of this exercise is mainly to strengthen the rotator cuff and works great in a rehab program.

See 'Related Resources' below for past Functionally Fits (including the shoulder series) and other exercises and training tips.


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Initially begin in kneeling position (for added stability and safety) with the stability ball beneath the chest and arms resting on the ball.

Position the hands so that the thumbs point up toward the ceiling, and slowly raise both of the arms up simultaneously; pinch the shoulder blades together at the top. Pause, then slowly return to a point just before the weights touch the floor.

The desired cadence would be 1/1/2. Perform two to three sets of 15-20 reps with a very light set of weights (I typically recommend no more than four percent body weight).

This exercise is designed to strengthen the posterior rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers (namely, the middle trapezius and rhomboids). Rotating the thumbs up externally rotates the humerus and increases rotator cuff activation.

This exercise is an integral part of any rotator cuff rehab/prehab exercise program. The key is not using momentum to raise the weight and performing lower loads and higher repetitions. To increase difficulty, you may lengthen the pause time at the top and position or consider alternate arm sequences immediately following the traditional reps.

Additional Notes
Do not attempt to force through any shoulder pain. You can modify the exercise by reducing range of motion and lightening the load. It is also acceptable to perform the exercise in a palm-down fashion, if that is more comfortable for the client.

To increase core stability, have the client place their feet shoulder width apart while keeping the knees straight and the lower legs completely off the floor.

Once they master this, you may advance to feet together.

Just keep in mind the goal is sound execution of the motion. If they struggle on the ball, consider using a flat bench.

Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS (www.brianschiff.com) is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. He became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) in 1998. In 2000, he opened his own personal training and sport-specific conditioning facility, Fitness Edge, in Dublin, Ohio. Brian has presented at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention and sport-specific training.

Topic: Exercises/Training Tips

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Saturday, February 22, 2014 10:13:18 PM by Jason
if i lay on my back and put my hands behind my head and try to put my elsboodwwn my shoulder pops ot of place or if i go to throw something it will come out this causes great pain and hurts for a few days after it getsx back in place i have had xrays and mri done but no one canseem to find something wrong .it upsets me because i have streched it and tried to excercise it and nothing helps .could you please give me a clue as to what his might be
Monday, April 07, 2014 2:52:12 PM by Anonymous
Wow, this is in every respect what I needed to know.

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