How to Do Cable External Rotation Properly

The cable external rotation is an interesting exercise. It exercises all the three shoulder heads. However, the primary target area is the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is located right before where the shoulder begins. This is primarily because it is what holds the shoulder in place.

It is made up of muscles and tendons which facilitate the movement of the arm and shoulder. It is for this reason that it’s such an important area.

A weak rotator cuff inhibits your shoulder’s range of motion and it can also leave you susceptible to shoulder injuries.


  • Start by handling the cable attachment. Then, set the cable pulley at elbow-height.

While standing a step away, plant both feet on the floor slightly further than shoulder-width apart ensuring that the cable machine is on your right-hand side.

  • Place your left hand on the handle in a neutral grip. Ensure that your palm is facing inwards.
  • Keeping your left elbow tucked into your left hip, bend your elbow to a 90-degree angle and slightly rotate your shoulder inward. This is your starting position.
  • Exhale. While keeping your elbow tucked into your hip, pull the cable away from the pulley by rotating your shoulder outward, pulling your hand away from your body.
  • While keeping your elbow tucked, slowly rotate your shoulder inward and pull your hand towards your body to return to the starting position.
  • Complete half of the specified repetitions on the same side before completing the remaining repetitions on the other side.



The rotator cuff is what holds the shoulder in place. Naturally, this means that every time the shoulder makes abduction-based movements the rotator cuff is engaged.

It’s also a region that determines your range of motion. Therefore when you stretch your shoulder the rotator cuff is involved and engaged.

As you do the exercise, chances are that your shoulder will get more comfortable stretching further and further.

When this happens, chances are your rotator cuff is at the centre of it. This is because the load put on the rotator cuff forces it to break itself down and become stronger and more pliable.


The movements necessary to do the cable external rotation apply continuous resistance to the shoulder rotators.

As such, this ensures that the shoulder region is sufficiently strained. Continuous pressure is therefore what engages and increases the strength levels in the shoulder.


The core and shoulders often work together to provide stability while doing the cable external rotation.

The core is particularly relied on to increase your output. Therefore, the more effort you put in, the more you engage the core.



The cable external rotation directs a lot of the workload required to do the exercise towards the rotator cuff.

A rotator cuff as has been mentioned above is made up of muscles and tendons responsible for the shoulder’s flexibility and range of motion.

Therefore, the more time and reps of the exercise you do, the more flexible your shoulder gets.


The cable external rotation unilaterally works the shoulder heads. This is facilitated by the exercises movements

As the shoulders are forced to carry a certain amount of load, they get more comfortable carrying said load.

This results in you developing stronger shoulders. Strong shoulders in a number areas including physical day to day life activities.


When you have a weak shoulder and rotator cuff, you are often more susceptible to injuries. This is because weak shoulders lack the balance and strength to handle heavy loads.

For instance if you’re carrying something and you don’t have a strong enough rotator cuff you can end up injured.



  • Attach an ankle strap to the bottom of a pulley. Face the machine and find a steady spot within the frame.
  • Once steady, kick your legs back as high as possible. In order to do this properly, you should use your glutes to fan your kicks.
  • You should also ensure that you engage the core throughout the exercise. Keeping your knees bent is also important.

These are the full directions on how to do the donkey kicks properly


  • Lie on your back. Spread your feet so they are at least hip-width apart and then plant them.
  • Place your hands behind your head so that your elbows are facing your legs.
  • Lift your knees so that they form a 90-degree angle and use your core to lift your upper body.
  • Rotate your trunk moving your right elbow and left knee toward each other then straighten your leg
  • This completes 1 rep
  • Do the same thing with your left elbow and right knee


  • Start with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
  • Point both arms out to your side so that your upper body looks like a “T”.
  • Keeping your legs straight. Bend and rotate at the waist so that your right arm reaches down and touches your left foot.
  • Stand back up and repeat the same motion except this time bring the left hand down to the right foot and then stand back up.
  • Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.



Raising your shoulder is an integral part of doing the cable extension rotation. However, when overextended it can lead to a host of troubles.

When you extend your shoulder, there is often a reliance on the rotator cuff to create balance. As such, some weight is distributed towards the rotator cuff.

That said, the higher you raise your shoulder the more pressure is directed towards it. Therefore overextending your leg can lead to shoulder injuries.


When doing the cable external rotation, it is prudent that the cable remain at the same height as your elbow.

By doing this, you ensure that you experience the full strain of the exercise thus leading to effectiveness


The cable external rotation is an easy to do exercise that provides unilateral engagement for the shoulder heads.

However what makes the exercise special is how many areas it engages effectively. Therefore if you’re looking for a wholesome mostly upper body workout to try, it’s a good bet.

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