Many women tend to train the parts they can see, like the legs, abs and arms. Sometimes they neglect the less visible but important parts like the rotator cuffs. This muscle group, which is made up of four muscles, provides movement and reinforcement of your shoulder joints to prevent injury, says the IDEA Fitness Journal. Use a medicine ball to strengthen your rotator cuffs because it allows you to move your shoulders, arms and torso more freely than other types of free weights.
Squat swings work the forward and back motion of your rotator cuffs while engaging your core muscles in your torso and hip. They also teach you to move your upper body in sync with your lower body, which is important for many sports and daily activities, says fitness coach Juan Carlos Santana, author of "The Essence of Program Design." Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, and hold a 6-pound medicine ball over your head. Exhale and swing the ball down between your legs, while bending your torso forward without rounding your spine. Bend your legs into a half-squat as you swing. Inhale and swing the ball up over your head. Perform this exercise for three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
In overhead throwing movements, your rotator cuffs stabilize your shoulder joints to prevent shoulder dislocation when you throw. The soccer throw uses your lower body and abs to help generate power to allow your upper body to throw with better form and accuracy. Stand about 10 to 12 feet away from a sturdy wall and hold an 8-pound medicine ball overhead. Take two or three steps forward and throw the ball at the wall, exhaling as you do so. Catch the ball after it bounces off the wall first and then on the ground once. Perform three to four sets of eight to 10 reps as fast as you can.
Like the soccer throw, the chest pass strengthens your rotator cuffs and other shoulder muscles as you throw the ball like a basketball pass. Stand about 5 to 6 feet away from a sturdy wall and hold a 6-pound medicine ball near your chest. Exhale, step forward with one foot and throw the ball at the wall at the same time. Catch the ball after it bounces off the wall and then off the ground once. Perform three to four sets of eight to 10 reps as fast as you can.
Your rotator cuffs move in a diagonal pattern and the standing chop works on this movement pattern while strengthening your core. Stand with your left foot in front of you and hold a 6-pound medicine ball over your left shoulder. Exhale and swing the ball down and across your torso to your right hip without rotating your torso much. Bring the ball back up to the starting position. Perform two to three sets of eight to 10 reps per side. Switch your leg position when you chop in the opposite direction.
- IDEA Fitness Journal: The Shoulder, Part III
- The Essence of Program Design; Juan Carlos Santana
- Athletic Development; Vern Gambetta
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.