Cuban Press

Also known as the Muscle Snatch, this exercise is often used by Olympic weightlifters to strengthen their shoulders in preparation for lifting record loads in the snatch. A1 Vermeil, strength coach of the Chicago Bulls, uses it with his athletes to strengthen their rotator cuff muscles. This is a very humbling exercise. The best performance I have seen in this exercise was by a 198-lb man who could do 135 lbs for sets of 6—in contrast, this athlete could also perform 5 perfect reps in the Behind-the-Neck Press with 308 lbs!

The starting position for this exercise requires you to hold a barbell with a grip that is wider than shoulder width. Upright row the bar until it reaches the lower portion of your sternum. After pausing momentarily in this position, rotate the arms outward until the forearms are perpendicular to the ground, then finish the movement by pressing the bar overhead. To complete the exercise, lower the bar in a pressing style until the upper arms are parallel to the floor, then lower it in a rotary fashion to the lower sternum and finally to the mid-thigh level.

Although training the external rotators won't make as dramatic a change in your physical appearance as a hard-core specialization program of squats, chin-ups or bench presses, developing these muscles is important. The exercises and training principles I've outlined will increase your training longevity, increase performance in pressing and chinning, and improve your posture. Not a bad payoff for such small muscles, but as they say, good things often come in small packages!

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