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The Best Shoulder Exercises With Resistance Bands to Add to Your Workout

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 26, 2021

Many athletes incorporate resistance bands into their cardio and strength training.

Also, experts claim, and scientific research confirms that using resistance bands for your shoulder workouts is highly effective.

It’s especially beneficial for those who spend too much time slouching over their laptops, cell phones, behind the wheel, etc.

Let us show you some resistance band shoulder exercises proven to work for building strong shoulder muscles and joints.

These exercise enhance shoulder flexibility and mobility, eliminating shoulder and neck pain or discomfort, preventing injury, improving poor posture,  muscle imbalances, and more.

Let’s get started.

1. Single-Arm Band Shoulder Press

woman doing a single arm band press

Stand straight on the resistance band with your right foot.

Hold the other end of the band in your right hand behind your arm, with your palm facing forward, elbow down and close to your body, and wrist directly above it.

With your core engaged, press the band upwards until the full elbow lockout. Hold for a moment and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat, then switch sides.

One-arm band shoulder press variation forces you to engage your core to keep it stabilized and your spine aligned more than two-arm shoulder press.

It’s also better than a dumbbell shoulder press because resistance bands don’t create momentum and are gentle on the spine and joints (unlike free weights).

Targeted muscles: delts (front, middle, rear), triceps, pecs

Do 3-4 sets of 20 reps per side.

2. Front Raise

Stand upright on one end of the resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart, core tight, and shoulders squeezed back.

Hold the other end of the band in an overhand grip with both hands also shoulder-width apart, slightly bent in elbows.

Lift your arms straight in front of you up to your shoulder height, and hold for a second before returning to the starting position.

Don’t use the momentum to lift the band. Avoid shrugging your shoulders or rocking the body back and forth, ensuring that you feel the tension and burn throughout the movement.

This exercise is also great for pumping up your front delts.

Targeted muscles: delts (front, middle), biceps, serratus anterior

Do 3 sets of 20 reps.

Other types of exercises:

3. Single-Arm Band Lateral Raise

woman doing a single arm band lateral raise

Loop the band around your left foot once (or twice for higher resistance), and stand straight.

Hold the other end of the band in your right hand with your palm facing in and your arms straight.

Lift your right arm out to the side in a controlled motion until you pull the band up to your shoulder height, ensuring that your palms are facing parallel to the floor.

Hold the band for a second and then return it to your side slowly. Switch sides when you complete all the reps on the right side.

Targeted muscles: delts (middle)

Do 3 sets of as many lateral raise reps as possible (at least 20 per side).

If you can’t do some extra reps, increase the resistance to push yourself harder.

“With bands, you can safely go past thresholds without injuring yourself and impairing the joints.”

- David Morin, Fitness Model

4. Pull Apart

Standing upright, hold the band in an overhand grip with your elbows unlocked, chest up, and your arms shoulder-width apart and extended horizontally out in front of you at shoulder height.

Pull the band apart, separating your hands to the side as far as you can and squeezing your shoulders together.

Hold for a moment, then return to the starting position slowly.

Targeted muscles: delts (rear), traps, rhomboids, rotator cuffs

Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

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5. Upright Row

person doing a upright row

Stand on one end of the loop with your feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged, and spine neutral. (You can wrap the band around your feet to increase resistance.)

Hold the other end of the band with both hands shoulder-width apart with palms facing inwards in front of your waist.

Pull the resistance band straight up to about your upper chest level, raising your elbows high above your hands and squeezing your shoulder blades.

Then, release the band slowly back down and repeat.

Throughout the upright row movement, keep a straight posture and your knees soft to take the pressure off your lower back.

Targeted muscles: delts (front, middle), traps, upper back

Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps.

6. Banded Shrug

Stand straight in the middle of the band with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the band ends in each hand with your arms relaxed.

Shrug your shoulders up as high as possible to feel the contraction in your traps. Hold for a second and lower your shoulders back.

Targeted muscles: traps, rhomboids

Do 3 sets of 15 reps.

Other types of band exercises:

7. Reverse Fly

reverse fly workout

Stand in the center of the resistance band with both feet hip-width apart.

Slightly lean forward, holding the bend ends in each hand while keeping your upper back, neck, and head in a straight line.

Pull the band apart, raising it with both arms stretched out wide. Squeeze the shoulder blades to ensure a full range of motion.

Hold the band shortly at the top. Then, lower it down slowly and repeat.

The reverse fly exercise helps to strengthen all the major muscles for proper muscle balance and upright posture.

Which further helps relieve chronic neck and shoulder pain in no time. [1] [2]

You can also try reverse cable flies for rear delts as an alternative, in case you don't have a band.

Targeted muscles: delts (rear), traps (middle and lower), rhomboids

Do 3 sets of 20 reps.

8. Banded Y-Fly

Loop one end of the resistance band around a pole at your upper chest level.

Hold the other band end in an overhand grip with both hands around shoulder-width apart and slightly turned, with your thumbs pointing downwards.

Stand upright with your core engaged, lifting your hands up and back to form a Y-shape.

Pause briefly before bringing them back down.

Targeted muscles: delts (front, middle), rhomboids

Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

9. Kneeling Superman

woman doing a kneeling superman workout

Kneel on the floor on all fours with your back slightly curved inwards.

Chin tucked, elbows flexed somewhat, knees under your hips, hands beneath your shoulders, and the resistance band looped around your right foot and left hand.

Raise your left hand and right foot as high as you can to stretch the band tautly underneath your body until you feel the contraction along your back.

Hold it briefly, and then return to the starting position. Repeat the same movement on both sides.

Targeted muscles: delts, traps, rhomboids, infraspinatus, teres minor

Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

10. Shoulder Dislocates

Start from a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms and back straight.

Hold the ends of the band in front of your waist with both hands a bit wider than shoulder-width apart and slightly bent in the elbows.

Rotating your arms, pull the band up, overhead, and down to touch your lower back with it.

Then, pause for a second and rotate your arms back to the starting position (the front of your waist). Repeat.

This is an excellent warm-up exercise for stretching your shoulders and increasing shoulder joint mobility at all fitness levels.

Targeted muscles: delts, pecs, triceps, biceps

Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

Are You Trying These Resistance Band Shoulder Exercises?

Resistance bands provide constant tension and variable resistance from various angles in multiple directions, so they’re ideal for targeting specific muscles and joints through many different degrees of rotation.

Unlike free weights, resistance bands are gentler and safer for your joints, so they can also help strengthen and stabilize them.

What’s more:

Bands are inexpensive, easy to store, and portable, so you can use them conveniently anywhere to help increase your muscle size and strength without cheating, pain, or injury risk.

You see why all these exercises can make an effective shoulder workout suitable for all fitness levels? Try them out today!


References:

  1. https://academic.oup.com/ptj/article/88/6/703/2742306
  2. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/46/14/1004

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