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The Physics of Fitness

Chapter Twenty-Five
Internal & External Obliques,
Transverse Abdominis
& Shoulder Rotators

The Obliques
The Internal and External Obliques are two sets of muscles located on the sides of
our midsection. Their primary anatomical functions are side-to-side torso flexion, as
well as torso rotation.

The External Oblique is the more superficial of the two (closer to the surface). Its the
only one whose fibers are visible, and only when a person is lean enough (usually
below 6% body fat). The Internal Obliques lies beneath the External Obliques - too
deep to be visible. These two muscles work together, simultaneously. So, if a person
wanted to only exercise the muscle that is visible - and neglect the Internal Oblique - it
is impossible to isolate only the External Oblique.
From a bodybuilding / physique development perspective, the External Obliques looks
like fingers that extend diagonally from the Rectus abdominis. When a person is lean
enough, these lines are clearly visible - seen from the side or from the front.

The illustrations below allow us to see the origins and insertions of the External
Obliques (below-left) and the Internal Obliques (below-right).
As you can see, they attach to the ribs, the Iliac Crest (sides of the pelvis), the Pubic
bone (center of the pelvis), and the fascia of the Rectus abdominis. Its also worth
noting that their fibers cross-hatch in opposite directions, thereby allowing movement
through a variety of planes.

- - - - - - - - -
Development of the Obliques
To keep things simple, Im going to refer to the External Obliques and the Internal
Obliques, just as the Obliques or the Oblique muscle - since they operate
simultaneously.

The Obliques have several functions. They provide support for the internal organs and
assist in breathing, in addition to causing torso rotation and torso flexion. However, the
one primary anatomical movement that allows us to build this muscle, so that its
prominently visible, is Lateral Torso Flexion, also known as a Side Bend.

The Side Bend movement is the best way to stretch (elongate) and contract (flex) this
muscle. If were on a bodybuilding stage, and we want to flex our Obliques, we flex our
torso in the direction of those fibers, and squeeze. This squeeze (flex) can be felt
between the side of the ribcage and the hip bone on the lateral side of the pelvis. That
is where (more or less) a Side Bend exercise typically finishes its range of motion.
There are number of versions of a Side Bend - however, they each have a different
degree of productiveness* - ranging from waste of time to excellent. There is an
ideal (best) way of doing a Side Bend - or, to be more specific - an ideal direction
of resistance that can be applied to a Side Bend, which makes it maximally productive.

(* Note: All Side Bends are unproductive, if a person expects it to reduce, or diminish, the
body fat that has accumulated on the side of their midsection. That will not happen, and the
expectation that that will happen is completely misguided.)

- - - - - - - -
Below, we see a man performing a standard Side Bend, while holding a dumbbell in
his left hand. His left hand is on his head, but it doesnt need to be. It can be
anywhere, as long as hes not holding another weight in that hand, thereby
counterbalancing the movement. This is as correct as it could be - however, the
direction of resistance not good. Lets analyze this.

The operating lever of the Obliques is the torso, just as the operating lever of the Biceps
is the forearm. Weve already established that the operating lever of a target muscle
should cross resistance perpendicularly, somewhere in the range of motion. Clearly,
that will not happen in this version of a Side Bend. At no point in the range of motion,
will this mans torso be perpendicular with gravity (resistance). It is mostly parallel with
the direction of gravity, throughout the entire exercise.

In the photo below, the black arrow indicates the direction of resistance. That dumbbell
is being pulled straight down, by gravity.
The red line on the center of the mans torso (photo above left), highlights the fact that
his torso (lever) is parallel with the direction of resistance. This means that - in this
position - his Obliques (on his right side, red arrow) are mostly NOT loaded*, because
the lever that operates those Obliques is in the neutral position, relative to gravity.

(* Because the arm holding the weight is about 8 inches to one side of the center of his torso,
there is some degree of sideways pulling, which is loading the right Obliques - but its a fraction
of what it could be, and should be.)

Also, because of the rule of Opposite Position Loading, the downward (6:00) pull of
resistance will automatically load whatever is closest to the 12:00 position. His upper
Trapezius (green arrow) is nearest that 12:00 position, so it is getting the greatest
percentage of this load. The spine is also getting a large percentage of the downward
pull, thereby compressing the discs - which is not good. But his right Obliques are at
the 3:00 position, so they will only get a small fraction of the available resistance.
This is very inefficient. This version of a Side Bend is loading the target muscle (the
Obliques) the LEAST, and non-target muscles (the Trapezius) the MOST. Whats
needed is a better (more efficient) direction of resistance.

In the photo below, Ive placed a RED arrow at the shoulder - indicating a better
direction of resistance. A cable would be used to achieve this. Notice how that red
arrow, and the red line on the center of the torso, are more perpendicular? That means
that the torso lever is more active, and therefore a greater percentage of the load is
placed upon the muscle that is operating that lever - the Obliques. Also, the right
Obliques are now more on the opposite side of the resistance, so theres better
compliance with opposite position loading.

Is this the ideal direction of resistance? Its much better, but the ideal would be if the
resistance came from a slightly higher angle - at shoulder level (below). That direction
of resistance would provide a perfectly perpendicular angle from the torso at the mid-
point of the range of motion, and would also allow a bit more perpendicular-ness at the
conclusion of the movement - as compared with the version above.

Keep in mind that when the torso leans to one side or the other (without any addition of
resistance), it would theoretically be on one side of the Apex, or the other. This means
that it would tend to fall toward the side its leaning. So, having a cable angle that
originates from the height of the shoulder, would off-set some of the downward fall of
the torso. It would be pulling the torso slightly upward, against which the Obliques
would have to resist and contract - and thats great.
Range of Motion
Within the orthopedic / physical therapy communities, the safe range of motion for
Lateral Torso (spinal) Flexion is believed to be 15 to 20 degrees. Compare this to the
safe range for Forward Flexion (40 to 60 degrees) and Backward Extension (20 to 35
degrees).

The spine has LESS lateral mobility, than it does backward mobility. This is noteworthy.
It is more common for people to experience lower-back discomfort from doing Side
Bends, than from doing Back Extensions. So, caution is advised when performing Side
Bends - especially in the stretch position (i.e., final eccentric phase of the range of
motion).

Depending on how much weight one chooses to use when doing Side Bends, I would
recommend omitting the first 20 to 40% of the range of motion. The 50% marker would
be the half-way point, between all the way to the left and to the right. In other words,
the 40% marker would be only slightly in the stretch direction - just past the vertical
torso position. If the resistance is light, its probably safe to go to the 20% marker.
However, full range on the contraction side would be safe - and also very productive.

As mentioned in the Abs chapter, its more safe to enter a full range of movement when
its muscle contraction that is achieving that. It is not so safe to enter a full range of
movement when its an outside resistance that is achieving that. Allowing the cable
resistance to pull you into a full stretch, is less safe than allowing your Obliques
to pull you into a full contraction. This is especially true when dealing with the spine.

Other Exercises for Obliques?


The exercise below is another version of a Side Bend. The position of the torso relative
to gravity is different than that of the standing version. Theoretically, this resistance
curve is better.

The torso is more perpendicular with gravity at the beginning of the movement, as
compared with the standard (standing) version, using a dumbbell. In my opinion, its too
perpendicular, given the involvement of the spine.

I believe it would be better to have a little less resistance at the beginning of the range
of motion, and a little more resistance at the end - due to the possibility of spinal strain.
Remember, there is a higher risk at the extreme ends of the range of motion - but
mostly when the spinal flexion is caused by an external resistance source, and when
the resistance is increasing at that point - both of which are true here. Also, since this is
a body weight movement, the resistance cannot be reduced - and it may be too much
for some people.

For both of these reasons, using a cable would be better. One can simply adjust the
pulley up or down, to select the resistance curve that is most comfortable and
productive. Also, one can select the exact amount of resistance they want to use,
instead of having to use ones entire torso weight.

(Note: The foot position is also not very comfortable, with the exercise above. One is
obligated to place one foot in front of the other, although a side by side footing would - in fact -
be more comfortable and more stable.)
The exercise above - known as the Plank - is a very common Oblique exercise these
days. However, it is isometric - rather than dynamic - so the first problem is that it
misses the benefits of dynamic muscle contraction. The second problem is that its a
body weight exercise - all or nothing. For some people, this would be excessively
difficult, and it does not provide the option of using a lesser resistance.

Beyond the lack of movement, and the lack of options for resistance level, there is also
the discomfort (strain) placed on the shoulder joint, by having a large percentage of
ones entire body weight pushing the humerus into the shoulder socket. Many people
with injured shoulders would not be able to tolerate this degree of joint stress.

In addition, that same amount of weight is pushing against ones elbow. Yes - a floor
mat would soften that a bit. But its simply unnecessary to place this kind of strain on
the shoulder and elbow, when its just as easy to use a cable, from a standing position.
In fact, this same exact position - even performing it as an isometric exercise - could be
duplicated with a cable resistance, more comfortably.

Further, there is the issue of leg comfort. Proponents of the theory that Leg Extensions
cause knee shearing, would say its bad to place a perpendicular force against the
front of the ankle, because it might shear the knee. Yet, those same people dont
seem to worry a bit about applying the same kind of force against the side of the lower
leg, which would theoretically force the knee to bend (shear) sideways.

Personally, I dont believe this is a real concern either way - although its interesting to
point out the irony. However, I do believe the Plank is unnecessarily uncomfortable on
the legs, shoulder, neck and elbow - with less benefit than that which could be
achieved using a dynamic Side Bend exercise, like the Standing Cable Side Bend.

- - - - - - - -
Additional Comments About Side Bends & Obliques
Many people believe that doing Side Bends will cause them to lose fat in the area of the
Obliques. It will not. Side Bends work the Oblique muscle, under the fat. That fat must
be addressed (diminished) by way of calorie intake and calorie spending. It cannot be
spot reduced, toned nor firmed.

Lateral Torso Flexion (Side Bend) is assisted by a muscle called the Quadratus
Lumborum - or the QL. It is a small, triangular muscle at the base of the spine (one
on each side of the spine). People often have pain in this area, which is another reason
why its not wise to force excessive stretch, with resistance, in either direction.

Lateral Torso Flexion (Side Bending), with limited range of motion, may be helpful for
people experiencing QL pain. If you are experiencing lower back pain, and you are
under the care of an orthopedic doctor or a physical therapist, ask them if your
circumstances allow a modified range of motion / Lateral Spinal Flexion, before trying
this yourself.

Lastly, Torso Rotation (shown below) is another movement that is caused primarily by
the Internal and External Obliques. We often see people in the gym doing various
versions of this movement. From a functional standpoint, this is a good movement -
provided the direction of resistance is correct (red arrow, below). However, caution
should be used to not over-rotate (excessively twist) the spine. Try to stay in the
middle 80% of the range of motion (of Torso Rotation), and avoid the extreme stretch
that assisted (forced) by resistance.

Although torso rotation has functional benefits, it is not likely to produce much - if any -
visible development in the External Obliques.

- - - - - - - -
Transverse Abdominis

This muscle is essentially the third layer of abdominal muscle, from the surface. It lies
beneath the Internal Obliques, which lie beneath the External Obliques.

In the illustration below-left (side view), we can see this muscle mostly connects to and
from fascia. There are some connections to the ribs and the upper edge of the pelvis
(boney areas), but since the fibers run horizontal to the torso, and the horizontal
connections are from fascia to fascia (and also on the Inguinal ligament, which is a
cord on the front of the pelvis - shown below right), it does not produce any actual
skeletal movement. Rather, it acts as a sort of girdle for abdominal and spinal support,
assists in breathing, and helps coordination. For a muscle to produce skeletal
movement, it needs to attach to bones, which are drawn toward each other, upon
muscle contraction.
Because the TVA (Transverse abdominis) is three layers deep, and cannot be seen, one
might argue whether its worth exercising this muscle. However, of the various muscles
which are associated with The Core, the Transverse abdominis is the muscle that is
most responsible for the characteristics attributed to The Core - spinal and abdominal
support, and coordination.

The only direct exercise that can be done to strengthen this muscle, is the Abdominal
Vacuum. This is an exercise where the abdomen is drawn inward, and held. The best
way to do this is either while lying down, or while bent over leaning against a table. First
exhale completely, and then (without inhaling) draw the abdomen inward and hold for a
few seconds - and repeat. The more one practices it, the more control one gains in
doing this.

The Vacuum can also be performed as a pose on the bodybuilding stage. The
bodybuilder most famous for this particular pose is Frank Zane - whos Vacuum pose
was considered iconic (below).

In addition to assisting in breathing, abdominal control and spinal support, the TVA plays
a role in micro-coordination of torso movement. The best way to improve that function
is by doing athletic activities - hiking, dancing, basketball, volleyball, tennis, etc. These
activities require constant microscopic adjustments in posture, which allows one to
move their arms, legs and torso, while simultaneously not falling. Thus, these activities
improve our proprioception.

In Chapter 15, we discussed the difference between balance and proprioception.


The distinction between the two can get a bit murky. We often use the term balance,
when what we mean is coordination.
This is why my recommendation has been to do more athletic activities, rather than
spend a lot of time standing on a wobble board, or on one leg, compromising our efforts
to lift weights. Athletic activities improve proprioception and coordination (i.e., our
Transverse abdominis) much better than unstable weight lifting.

- - - - - - - - - -
Shoulder Rotators
(also known as the Rotator Cuff muscles)

I left this group of muscles for last, because they are not normally considered physique
muscles. Yet, understanding these muscles - when they participate, when they should
not participate, and what leads to their inevitable strain - is extremely useful in the
application of exercises used for physique development.

The four muscles involved in the integrity of our shoulder function are the
Supraspinatus, the Infraspinatus, the Teres Minor and the Subscapularis. These
muscles hold the head of humerus (upper arm bone) in the Glenoid fossa (shoulder
socket), and rotate the humerus internally (forward) and externally (posteriorly).
The illustration above-left, shows the perspective wed see if we were looking at
someones front, and could see through their chest cavity, at that inner part of the
shoulder blade. The illustration above-right, shows the perspective wed see if we were
looking at someone from behind, and could see the back side of their shoulder blade
through their skin.

- - - - - - - -
Supraspinatus
The Supraspinatus is a muscle that runs along the top of the scapula. It originates on
the inside edge of the top of the scapula, and then passes under the Acromion process,
and attaches onto the upper / outer part of the humeral head.

When this muscle contracts (remember that all muscles pull toward their origins), it pulls
the upper outer head of the humerus, inward. This produces the first 10 degrees of
lateral abduction of the humerus - assisted by the Lateral Deltoid, of course.

The problem most often associated with this muscle - actually, with its tendon - is called
Impingement Syndrome.

In the illustration below, you can see that the Acromion is a bone (part of the scapula)
just above the head of the humerus.

Also, in this illustration, you can see Inflamed tendon, which is referring to the
Supraspinatus tendon. You also see the Swollen bursa (aka Sub-acromial bursa).
The tendon and/or bursa become irritated and inflamed when the humerus (upper arm
bone) is frequently raised higher than the Acromion process (indicated by the red arrow,
below). The tendon and the bursa get squeezed between the humerus and the
Acromion. Sometimes this results in a rupture of either the tendon or the bursa.

If you were to do an internet search on the most common cause of Impingement


Syndrome, you would find that it is caused by, repeatedly moving the upper arm
overhead.

Repeatedly moving the upper arm overhead, is precisely what occurs when we do
Overhead Presses. There is no way to perform an Overhead Press without raising the
upper arm higher than the Acromion process.

If it was not possible to develop the Deltoids without doing Overhead Presses, some
people might say its worth the injury risk. However, doing Overhead Presses is NOT
the only way to develop the Deltoids. Its not even the best way to develop the
Deltoids. In fact, its an outdated exercise that was grandfathered into bodybuilding by
former Powerlifters and people who performed strength exhibitions. It was naively
embraced by bodybuilders who did not understand biomechanics, in the late 1800s and
early 1900s. And has it been passed on through tradition.

Of course, many people (mostly men) enjoy doing Overhead Presses because it allows
them to lift a large amount of weight. Thats fine - except for the fact that moving a large
amount of weight by incorporating several muscles, is no better for bodybuilding
benefits than lifting a lesser amount of weight with only one muscle. Why do an
exercise that is not necessary for bodybuilding, and has a much higher risk of injury?

Yes - some men like the idea of having BOTH - big muscles and also being perceived
as strong. Notice I said perceived as strong. You can have large, well developed
muscles - and you can also have muscles are individually strong - and still not do
Overhead Presses. Moving a large amount of weight by way of incorporating several
muscle groups at one time is almost like using a Pry bar to lift a heavy box. It does not
necessarily prove the strength of the individual muscles.

Unfortunately, people have adopted the Overhead Press (like the Bench Press) as a
standard measuring tool (a barometer) of strength, against which they can compare to
other peoples Overhead Press results (amount of weight lifted). Personally, I feel that
that comparison is fairly meaningless, in the scheme of life. Its good to be strong, of
course. But how my strength compares with the strength of others (assuming I am
strong enough), is largely irrelevant to me.

Overhead Press has its place. It is useful in Powerlifting, as well as for people who are
training to compete in sports which mimic that sort of movement - like Shot Putting.
Unfortunately, useful does not mean safe. It simply means that its an effective
movement for a few, very specific performance goals - but at a cost.

Those seeking optimal muscular development, while simultaneously seeking to maintain


the integrity of their shoulder joints, should be aware of the fact that the Overhead Press
is very inefficient for developing the Deltoids, and it has a high probably of causing
Impingement Syndrome.

- - - - - - - - - -
Infraspinatus
The Infraspinatus is the second-most vulnerable muscle of the Rotator Cuff group,
among bodybuilders.

This muscle covers most of the posterior side of the scapula. It originates on the inside
edge of the scapula (green arrow, below) and stretches across the shoulder joint. It
then attaches around the back side of the humeral head (red arrow, below).
When this muscle contracts, it pulls its insertion point toward its origin. Imagine this
happening in the illustration below. Notice the direction of the fibers. The muscle will
inevitably pull the humeral head, in that semi-diagonal direction toward its origin,
thereby causing external rotation (grey curved arrow) of the humerus.

Now, lets see what happens when a person performs an exercise - intended to work
the Deltoids - in a way that strains the Infraspinatus.
In the two photos above, we see a man doing Overhead Presses. Notice how he allows
his forearms to tilt forward, during the motion. He does this, in part, so he doesnt hit his
head with the barbell. His forearms are tilted more at the bottom of the repetition
(above-left), but they are still tilted forward even at the midway point (above-right). The
vertical red line indicates where his forearms should be, in order to be neutral.

A forearm that is held vertically (during an Overhead Press) would be neutral, and
would NOT force humeral rotation. However, a forearm that is tilted forward (during this
exercise) acts as a wrench handle, trying to rotate (twist) the humerus forward. The
Infraspinatus is forced to resist this forward rotation, and tries to rotate the humerus
back, so the forearm can be neutral. This is like reverse arm wrestling.

Under normal circumstances - when the humerus is down alongside the torso (below) -
any rotational force exerted by the Infraspinatus, on the humerus, is from a Mechanical
Advantage. In other words, the Infraspinatus is able to pull straight toward its origin
(shown below as a green bar), and easily produce external rotation of the humerus.

However, when the arm is NOT down alongside the torso - when it is perpendicular to
the torso (as is the case during Overhead Presses - shown below) - the origin of the
Infraspinatus is not inline with the direction the humerus must be rotated. The
Infraspinatus must try to rotate the humerus downward (blue arrow below), even though
it is positioned inward (green bar). This Mechanical Disadvantage creates a
significant increase in the force requirement. So, even though the forearm may only be
tilting forward a tiny bit, the magnification caused by the length of the forearm, combined
with the Mechanical Disadvantage of the humeral position, could easily overwhelm and
and injure the Infraspinatus.
The same thing could occur during Supine Dumbbell Presses, shown below. A forward
tilt on the forearm (even though unintentional), will produce a forward rotation on the
humerus, against which the Infraspinatus must struggle to prevent. And, since the
origin of the Infraspinatus is not in line with the rotation of the humerus, it must pull from
a side angle - which requires significantly more force.
This same thing could also occur during an Incline Press or a Decline Press. Any time
the upper arm is in the position that is perpendicular to the torso, and the loaded
forearm is allowed to tilt forward from the vertical position, there is a chance the
Infraspinatus will inadvertently become over-loaded, strained or torn, as it tries to resist
further forward rotation of the humerus.

- - - - - - - -
Exercising the Infraspinatus
Having established that rotation of the humerus is BEST performed (most efficient and
safest) with the humerus down alongside the torso, the exercise below would certainly
NOT qualify as one of the better exercises for the Infraspinatus.

Again, attempting to externally rotate the upper arm when it is perpendicular to the
torso, places the Infraspinatus at a tremendous Mechanical Disadvantage. It is
extremely inefficient for the Infraspinatus to pull on the humeral head, in the direction it
must rotate, while having its origins not inline with that direction of rotation.

The two exercises below are one step to closer toward correct movement, because (at
least) the humerus is held alongside the torso, while its being rotated. However, there
is problem with these versions as well.
Lets do this little experiment together. Stand in front of a mirror, with your right arm
alongside your torso. Now, bend your elbow to 90 degrees - as if you are halfway into a
Biceps Curl.

Now, ensuring that your elbow is held tightly against your side, allow your humerus to
rotate internally forward, as far as possible. Youll find that you can easily bring your
forearm all the way, so that its up against your abdomen - while still keeping your elbow
pressed against your side. However, you will not have the same degree of mobility
rotating your humerus externally. It may only rotate to the point where your forearm is
pointing straight ahead, or it may allow your humerus to rotate enough so that your
forearm is 10 or 15 degrees past that straight forward point - provided you keep your
elbow tightly against your side. So, the range of motion depicted in those two exercises
above, is excessive - to be totally comfortable and safe.
The range shown above represents a normal, natural, safe range of humeral rotation.
Forcing the humerus to rotate farther out (laterally) than the range shown above -
unless its completely comfortable - will only cause irritation.

So, now that we know the ideal anatomical motion, and we know the ideal range of
motion, lets apply the principle of early phase loading - in selecting the direction of
resistance.

In the case of those exercises shown above - the one using the elastic band (on the
left), and the one lying on ones side with a dumbbell (on the right) - both of them
encounter the maximally active position (the lever being perpendicular with resistance)
when the forearm is pointing straight ahead. But, as we now know, that is at (or near)
the end of the natural range of motion. Thats where the Infraspinatus is weakest.

When the humerus is rotated all the way inward, the Infraspinatus is the most
elongated, and therefore the strongest. Yet, in both of those exercises above, thats
the point where the forearm enters a mostly neutral angle to resistance, thereby
diminishing the resistance, and depriving the Infraspinatus of the opportunity to be more
loaded.

The solution is simple - change the position of the body, relative to gravity, so that the
resistance curve provides early phase loading and late phase easing. This is shown
below.

When I do this exercise above (Lying External Humeral Rotation w/dumbbell), I start
with a 3 pound dumbbell for 50 repetitions (each arm, separately). Then I move to a 5
pound dumbbell for 40 repetitions; then a 7 pound dumbbell for 30 reps, a 9 pound
dumbbell for 20 reps, and a 12 pound dumbbell for 15 reps. A total of 5 sets, every few
days.
Let me also remind you that - when we were discussing the muscles of the Upper
Back - I showed you this photo (above), highlighting the Infraspinatus. This is the only
Rotator Cuff muscle that is actually visible and prominent. The Teres minor is also
visible, but its small and not prominent; the Supraspinatus and Subscapularis are not
visible at all, because they are beneath other layers of muscle and/or skeleton.

So, the External Humeral Rotation exercise I recommend above is not only good for
the sake of shoulder joint integrity. Its also good for physique display.

- - - - - - - - - -
Teres Minor

As you can see in the illustrations above, the Teres Minor is positioned alongside the
Infraspinatus. Its origin is closer to the outer edge of the scapula, whereas the origin of
the Infraspinatus is on the inner edge of the Scapula. But they are mostly side-by-side,
and the insertion points are also side-by-side on the humeral head. Like the
Infraspinatus, the Teres minor is an external humeral rotator. However, it is clearly a
smaller, weaker assistant to the Infraspinatus, in that task.

When we are performing Lying External Humeral Rotation w/ dumbbell for the
Infraspinatus, the Teres minor is benefitting as well.

The Teres major (shown below, alongside the Teres minor) is not considered part of the
Rotator Cuff group. Its attachment is lower on the humerus, so it has some leverage
on the humerus. This makes it primarily a humeral adductor.

However, as you can see below, its attachment is on the inside of the humeral shaft,
and its origin is on the posterior side of the scapula. So, it DOES to produce some
degree of INTERNAL humeral rotation. However, its primary function is pulling the
humerus down and back. It participates in any motion that engages the Lats or the
Posterior Deltoids.

- - - - - - - - - -
Subscapularis
The illustration of the Subscapularis (above - far right) is a view from the front - as if we
could see through the chest cavity and ribs of the person. We are looking at the
ANTERIOR view of the scapula.

The Subscapularis is on the inside of the scapula. It originates on the inside edge of
anterior wall of the scapula (small green arrows below), and attaches onto the Lesser
Humeral Tuberosity (red arrow, below).

The illustration below shows how the Subscapularis is tucked between the anterior wall
of the scapula and the posterior side of the Ribs. In this view, you can also see how this
muscles attachment wraps around the anterior side of the humeral head. So, when
this muscle contracts, it pulls that outside edge of the humeral head, toward the origin of
the Subscapularis, thereby ROTATING the humerus internally (toward the front).

Also on the illustration above, we can see the Supraspinatus tendon, as it comes out
from under the Acromion, and attaches onto the top portion of the humeral head. The
other two Rotator Cuff muscles (Infraspinatus and Teres minor) would not be visible
from this view, as they are both on the posterior side of the scapula.
Above is an overhead view, which allows us to see the Subscapularis muscle (shown in
red) originating on the inner edge of the anterior wall of the Scapula, and then attaching
onto the front of the humeral head. Ive placed a blue arrow, showing the the action that
would occur when this muscle contracts (shortens), internally rotating the humerus
toward the origins of the Subscapularis.

The Subscapular is never be visible, obviously. So the rationale for working this muscle
would be to maintain the strength and integrity of the shoulder joint, and also for sports
that specifically involve forceful inward rotation of the humerus - which includes any
throwing sports.

Similar to the discussion regarding the Infraspinatus, the Subscapularis is able to


function with a Mechanical Advantage, only when the upper arm is alongside the torso.
Therefore, this is the best humeral position from which to work this muscle - for general
conditioning.

Below is an overhead view of a person performing Internal Humeral Rotation, with an


elastic band. Notice that the range of motion is the same as that of External Humeral
Rotation. However, the direction of concentric movement is the opposite of that which
is used for External Humeral Rotation.

The direction of resistance shown here is good, because it provides early phase
loading (perpendicular lever at the beginning of the range of motion), and late phase
easing (mostly parallel lever at the conclusion of the range of motion). Cables would
ideally be better than an elastic band. But an elastic band would be acceptable.