Yoga for Posture – 32 – Strengthening a Weak Infraspinatus

Last week we worked on your tight subscapularis. This week let’s talk about strengthening your weak infraspinatus muscles.

Wait, wut? What the hell is an “infraspinatus?”

Shoulder Anatomy
Shoulder Anatomy

It’s one of the rotator cuff muscles, and it’s responsible for holding your humerus (upper arm bone) in the shoulder capsule, helping stabilize the shoulder, and performing external (outward) rotation.

One of the common problems of poor posture is “gorilla arms,” the internal rotation of the shoulder joints. Last week we talked about how a tight subscapularis contributes to this by pulling the joint inward. A weak infraspinatus contributes by not resisting that inward pull of the subscap.

Strengthening infraspinatus

If the first half of the solution is to loosen subscap, the second half is to strengthen infraspinatus. Let’s do that. Again.


Yes, again. We did one exercise for it here, what I called the “rotator cuff curl.” It’s a miserable exercise at first, but it makes a for an excellent start to strengthening infraspinatus. To review:

  • Begin in table top position:
    • On hands and knees, arms and thighs straight up and down. Lower back relaxed but neither arched up, nor curled down (we’re not doing cat/cow).
  • Pick a side and bend that elbow 90°, palm up
  • Lift that elbow up, rotating directly out from the body.
  • Keep your upper arm and elbow bent at 90°, watching the palm of that hand helps with this
  • Rotate as far as you can, and no farther
  • Perform 8 to 10 reps

This is an excellent, basic exercise to begin. If you don’t like the “do it in yoga table top posture,” then try this.

  • Begin lying on your side, top arm along your body and leg
  • Bend your arm to 90°
  • Lower your right hand to your belly
  • Raise your hand as high as it can go
  • Perform 8 to 10 reps

As a third option

  • Begin by lying on a table, stomach down, arm dangling straight down from the edge
  • Raise your arm directly out from your body to 90°
  • Perform 8 to 10 reps

Once you have performed one (or more) of these exercises to the point where you can (reasonably comfortably) perform 10 unweighted reps, dial it up a notch. Do the exact same exercise, but use a 2.5 lb weight to add challenge to the muscle.

If you really want to make it suck, move up to 5 lbs, but only once your shoulder can handle it. I myself prefer to do the exercises without weights, your rotator cuff is delicate and once you’ve blown it, it’s very hard to make a full recovery.