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The present study was performed to investigate the activities of four shoulder muscles-the supraspinatus, the middle deltoid, the infraspinatus, and the upper trapezius-in scapular plane abduction in various exercise conditions.Eight male subjects (mean ± SD: 23.4 ± 1.3 yr) with an asymptomatic nondominant left shoulder participated in this study. Each subject performed scapular plane abduction with humeral external rotation (full can position) and with humeral internal rotation (empty can position), producing constant target torques of 4 and 12 N·m, respectively. In addition, the subjects performed each exercise in the supine position with the limb supported by straps. Electromyogram (EMG) was recorded with intramuscular electrodes at the supraspinatus and infraspinatus, and with surface electrodes placed at the middle deltoid and upper trapezius. The EMG activity (RMS) of each muscle was normalized according to the highest EMG activity (100% MVC) during a maximum manual muscle test for the corresponding muscle (% MVC).EMG activity of the supraspinatus was significantly greater than those of the other shoulder muscles in the full can position from 10-20° to 50-60° arcs with a target torque of 4 N·m (P < 0.05). In contrast, the supraspinatus and middle deltoid showed similar EMG activities under other exercise conditions.These results suggest that there is an exercise condition that induces greater activity of the supraspinatus in scapular plane abduction.