Subscapularis Exercises

The subscapularis is located deep below the chest muscles.

The subscapularis is located deep below the chest muscles.

The subscapularis is one of four muscles that make up the rotator cuff group of the shoulders. The other three muscles are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and teres minor. The subscapularis is located at the front of the scapula, or shoulder blade. In addition to stabilizing the shoulder, the subscapularis acts to internally rotate it. Several exercises that involve this movement will thus strengthen the subscapularis. You may do these exercises using dumbbells and cables. The subscapularis is a relatively small muscle, so you should do the internal rotation exercises using lighter weights and concentrate on the actions of the muscle.

Lying Dumbbell Internal Rotation

Grasp a dumbbell in your right hand.

Lie down with the right side of your body down on the flat weight bench.

Position your right arm down on the bench, flex your right elbow to 90-degrees, so it is perpendicular to your body. Keep your right forearm off the bench.

Internally rotate your right shoulder to move the dumbbell up towards your left side.

Externally rotate your right shoulder to move the dumbbell down to the beginning position. Repeat the exercise with your left arm after you do the required number of reps with your right arm.

Standing Cable Internal Rotation

Set the cable pulley to the middle position.

Hold the cable pulley handle with your right hand and stand upright with the right side of your body facing towards the cable pulley machine.

Take a few steps to the left side away from the cable pulley machine, position your right elbow by your right side, and flex your right elbow so it forms a 90-degree angle with your torso.

Bring the cable handle towards your left side by internally rotating your right shoulder.

Bring the cable handle back toward your right side to the starting point by externally rotating your right shoulder. Once you do the required amount of reps with your right arm, repeat the movement with your left arm.

Items you will need

  • Dumbbells
  • Flat weight bench
  • Cable pulley machine


  • Do one to two exercises for your subscapularis during your shoulder and rotator cuff workout. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps per exercise.


  • Do the same number of exercises for your other rotator cuff muscles as you do for the subscapularis to prevent a muscular imbalance. Doing so will reduce the risk of injury.

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About the Author

Richard Choueiri is a fitness and nutrition expert and the author of "The Human Statue Workout." He began writing professionally in 2007 and his work has been featured in and "Physique Magazine." Choueiri studied exercise science and nutritional science at Rutgers University. He holds an American College of Sports Medicine CPT, and a National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association CMMACC.

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