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Whoever said you need a gym membership and fancy equipment to get strong, toned shoulders probably hasn’t come across resistance band shoulder exercises.
A resistance band is a long, thin elastic band used to provide resistance to muscles when they are stretched. With just a simple resistance band, you can work your upper body from multiple angles to help improve shoulder mobility and build strong shoulders.
This article will reference some of our favourite resistance band shoulder exercises that you can implement to build definition and muscle to your shoulders. But first, let’s talk a little more about resistance bands and their benefits.
What Are Resistance Bands?
Resistance bands are a great addition to many people’s fitness routine and are used by fitness enthusiasts, physical therapists and athletes. A resistance band is a long, thin elastic band made of rubber or latex, commonly used for strength training and physical therapy exercises. When used correctly, these elastic powerhouses help strengthen and tone your muscles and boost your flexibility.
The benefit of them being low impact, also means that a physical therapist could use them for shoulder rehab exercises to help alleviate shoulder pain.
There are two different styles of resistance bands, a tube style and a flat style. The resistance level of tube style bands are identified by colour, whereas the flat bands are indicated by the width of the band, with the thicker band offering the most resistance. The higher the level of resistance, the more force your muscles will have to exert to stretch the band.
Generally, the thicker or wider the band, the more resistance it will provide, and vice versa. There are varying levels of resistance, and each brand uses different colors to represent the following levels. It’s worth noting that many suppliers of resistance bands have a number of different levels of resistance, ranging from very light right up to super heavy but the below tend to be the most common.
- Light resistance
- Medium resistance
- Heavy resistance
- Extra heavy resistance
The best practice is to start with a light resistance band and work your way up as your muscles get used to each resistance level.
Benefits of Resistance Bands
Many people assume that it’s easy to out grow the use of bands. In other words as your strength increases, you reach a plateau and then need to move over to heavier free weights such as dumbbells. However, that’s not the case. By adopting different stances, you can increase the resistance of any given band.
For example, if undertaking lateral raises, you typically stand on the band with your feet shoulder width apart but, if you adopt a wider foot placement you would be applying an additional stretch to the band therefore increasing it’s resistance. This is what’s known as linear variable resistance (LVR). This essentially means that the load will increase as the range of motion increases.
Whilst resistance band exercises are a great way to help with muscle growth, they would have their limitations. If your sole aim is to increase muscle mass as quickly as possible, you’ll see better gains if using dumbbells or machines, this is due to muscles being put under more stress.
If you’re looking to work out your shoulder muscles, resistance bands can sometimes be more beneficial when compared to free weights and gym equipment in numerous ways. Here are some of the benefits of resistance band shoulder exercises:
Best Resistance Band Shoulder Exercises
Aside from using bands to build muscle and strength, they can also help to improve overall shoulder health making it a good idea to incorporate some of these movements into workout routine.
Here are five of the more effective shoulder muscles exercises you can do using resistance bands.
Banded Lateral Raise
Lateral raises are a great exercise for targeting the lateral deltoid muscles, which are located on the outer portion of the shoulders giving them their rounded appearance. What’s more they can also help to improve shoulder mobility and range of motion.
How To Do A Banded Lateral Raise
- Take your band and hook it underneath one foot.
- Take hold of the band with your opposing hand so that the band is stretching across your body.
- Your palm should be facing down towards the floor.
- Keeping your elbows slightly bent, raise your arm out to the side until parallel to the floor, you should feel a stretch across the shoulder.
- Slowly lower back down to the starting.
- Repeat your desired number of reps before switching to the other arm.
Banded Front Raises
Front raises are extremely effective for improving shoulder flexion and strength to the front deltoids. You’ll also activate the upper chest muscles to a degree with this exercise.
How To Do A Banded Front Raise
- Stand on the middle of the band with your feet shoulder-width apart. The band should be hooked underneath both feet.
- Hold the ends of the band in each hand, palms facing down.
- Keeping your elbows slightly bent, raise your arms out in front of you until they are at shoulder height
- Slowly lower your arms to the starting position and repeat.
Banded Upright Rows
Upright rows are a powerful exercise for targeting the upper back and shoulder muscles, including the trapezius. This exercise helps to improve posture and upper body strength and can also help to improve mobility in the shoulders.
How To Do A Banded Upright Row
- Stand on the center of the resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart. As with the front raise, the band should be under both feet.
- Hold the ends of the band in each hand with your arms just in front of you and palms facing towards you.
- Keeping your back straight throughout, pull the band towards your chin making sure to keep your elbows higher than your hands.
- Make sure to keep your core tight for stability and the handles should stay close to your body throughout the movement.
- Return back to the starting position and repeat.
Banded External Rotation
When it comes to rotator cuff exercises, a banded external rotation is a good choice. It primarily targets the infraspinatus muscle, which is a muscle of the rotator cuff. This exercise helps to improve shoulder stability and mobility and can also help to prevent injuries.
How To Do A Banded External Rotation
- Hook a band around something stable, such as a power rack or a door handle (if doing these at home). It should be around elbow height.
- Stand side on to where the band is hooked and take hold of the band in your hand furthest away from the door handle or rack.
- Keeping your arm bent at 90 degrees (your forearm should be parallel to the floor), rotate your arm outwards.
- You should feel the resistance increase the further you rotate your arm.
- Good back as far as is comfortable before turning back to the starting position.
- Repeat number of reps then swap arms.
Banded Shoulder Press
The shoulder press is a classic exercise for targeting the shoulder muscles, including the deltoids, to a lesser extent, the triceps. This exercise helps to strengthen and tone the shoulders and can also help to improve upper body strength and stability.
How To Do A Banded Shoulder Press
- Stand on the center of the resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold the ends of the band in each hand, adjust your hands so that the bands are behind your arms with your palms facing forwards. Your upper arms should be parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.
- Lift the bans to shoulder height, palms facing forward.
- Extend your arms up overhead as far as possible, keeping your core engaged and your palms facing forward.
- Be sure to your keep your hands over the elbows throughout the exercise.
- Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Tips For Using Resistance Bands For Shoulder Workouts
- Choose the right resistance level that is appropriate for your fitness level. Start with a lighter resistance band and gradually increase the difficulty as your muscles get stronger.
- Use good form to avoid injury and get the most out of your workouts.
- Anchor the band securely to provide a stable base and ensure that the band doesn’t slip, slide, or whip you during the workout.
- Mix up your shoulder workouts to keep your muscles guessing and working hard.
- Use resistance bands in conjunction with other equipment to add variety to your workouts. This ensures that your muscles don’t get used to a certain movement or resistance, thereby slowing down your progress.
Resistance bands are a game-changer when it comes to strengthening and toning your shoulders. These elastic wonders can help you get those defined, sculpted shoulders you’ve always wanted, all from the comfort of your own home or while you’re on the go.
With a range of resistance levels to choose from, you can customize your workouts to suit your fitness level and goals.