6 Efficient Resistance Band Shoulder Exercises

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Shoulder exercises are valuable for everyone: men or women, old or young, and here’s why: posture! With the many luxuries in life these days, it would be easy to fall into a sedentary lifestyle. Pair this with increasing remote work from behind a computer screen, it is easy for hours to fly by before you realize you haven’t gotten up and moving nearly enough. This takes a toll on your body, especially your posture. 

The involvement of the shoulder muscles on one’s posture is paramount, so it’s important to address this muscle group. It’s not just about  athleticism, but about overall health and wellness. Plus, did you know that following hip and knee replacement, shoulder replacements are among the top joint replacements being performed?

One of the best preventative measures you can take is to stay in motion in order to maintain strength and range of motion.  Whether you’re an active athlete, a self proclaimed couch potato, or somewhere in between, I’m here to help you get moving! 

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resistance band shoulder exercises with Amanda Seghetti

What are the Key Shoulder Muscles?

So, what exactly are we targeting here? The primary muscles of the shoulder we will be targeting with this resistance band shoulder workout include:

  • Anterior Deltoid
  • Lateral Deltoid
  • Posterior Deltoid
  • Trapezius

Located where the chest muscles meet the shoulder, the anterior deltoid muscle is primarily responsible for raising the arm in an upward motion over the head. It is also responsible for the pushing motion and moving the arm inward toward midline. Last, the anterior deltoid is essential for the pushing motion on the vertical plane as well. 

The lateral deltoid is the middle part of your shoulder muscle.Working in opposition to the anterior deltoid, the lateral deltoid muscle is responsible for moving the arm outward. If the anterior deltoid is responsible for adduction, then the lateral deltoid is responsible for abduction.

On the horizontal plane, this muscle is integral for reaching, and if you’ve ever been carrying heavy moving boxes and felt the burn in your shoulder of the heavy load, then this is the muscle you were activating!

Next, the posterior deltoid inserts into muscle fibers around the spine. It is another important player in activities such as reaching, as well as other activities such as throwing and dressing.

Last, the trapezius muscles are the triangle shaped muscles on the back of the shoulder and neck. They are important in the movement and range of motion of the head, and support movement of the arm. 

Benefits of Resistance Band Shoulder Exercises

I can’t think of a more cost effective tool than to invest in the incorporation of resistance bands into your workouts. There are numerous benefits to this approach to fitness and overall wellness:

  • Versatility: This continues to be the number one benefit of resistance band training exercises. The use of resistance bands allows you to essentially work out anywhere at any time, and adjust how challenging you want each work out to be with a quick adjustment to the band or switch out to a different band in your set!
  • These exercises are tailored to improve your posture, and who couldn’t benefit from that?! I think any physical therapist or personal trainer would agree.
  • Resistance band exercises are easy on the joints and these shoulder exercises are excellent for preventative care for a part of the body that experiences a lot of daily wear and tear. I’ve been through shoulder pain and I can say from firsthand experience, I want to do everything I can to help you avoid that sensation!
  • While you’re hard at work on those shoulder and good posture muscles, you’re also sneaking in some core work too!
  • Targeting shoulder health now has a long lasting systematic impact on your body: Often overlooked, this muscle group is susceptible to arthritis, tears, and long term injury when unaddressed proactively. Love your body now, and your future self will thank you! 

6 Great Resistance Band Shoulder Exercises for all Fitness Levels

When completing these shoulder exercises with bands, remember that it’s all about quality over quantity. Adjust to which band in the set you are using based on how you are feeling and always focus on form.

You’ve probably gathered by now I am a big fan of resistance band workouts and that is because they are so versatile! If you haven’t already invested in these as a staple for your home exercise program, go ahead and check out these VEICK resistance bands . They come in a set of five and the resistance of the bands ranges from 10 to 50 pounds.

This purchase also comes with other goodies to use in conjunction with the different bands. They may look familiar because I also featured them in my recent post on the 9 best resistance band chest exercises, which goes to show just how versatile they are!

For a video of these moves, check out my Resistance Band Shoulder Exercises Web Story.

Resistance band upright rows

Secure the resistance band under your feet under your arch and get firm grip on the attached handles of the band. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, engage the abdominals, keep your body in a straight line, and pull in an upward motion, squeezing your shoulder blades together and those trapezius muscles!

Pause at the top of the movement for best results. Your elbows should be facing out away from your body.

resistance band upright row exercise

Focus on form and try your best not to shrug the shoulders up to the ears!  One tip for preventing the shrugging is to not pull those elbows higher than shoulder height. Breathe out through the upward motion movement. 

Resistance band single shoulder press  

The single shoulder press is a simple way to hit this major muscle group. Starting again with the resistance bands under your feet with your legs shoulder width apart, your left hand will be down at your side holding the handle of the resistance band in place.

With your right hand, you will have an overhand grip on the handle, then rotate your palm forward with your knuckles to the sky, keeping your elbow close to your ribs. On the exhale, stabilize the shoulder and push your hand and arm in an upward motion.

resistance band single arm shoulder press exercise

I love this exercise because it doesn’t take a lot of time but you almost immediately feel the benefits of this strength training exercise in the upper body while supporting your shoulder joint and building your rotator cuff muscles!

Resistance band squat with overhead shoulder press

Resume the starting position with the resistance band securely place under both of your feet. Your feet will be a bit further apart than hip’s distance.

Start down in the squat position, loop the handles around your hands so that your palms are facing in front of you, elbows bent and tight at your sides where the band will be positioned behind your arms. Take a deep steady breath and as you exhale, you are going to push off of those powerful legs into a standing position as you simultaneously press your arms up to the sky into the overhead press position. 

squat to overhead press 1
squat to overhead press 2

I noticed I needed a lighter band with a lower resistance level for this exercise, to move toward straight arms. Just be sure to listen to your body!

While this exercise can also be done with free weights, I continue to be biased toward the use of the resistance bands. Unlike conventional free-weight shoulder exercises,  I can perform the exercises anywhere without lugging the free weights around, and it feels easier on my joints when loading and getting in position for the exercise.

I love this exercise because it’s a great way to engage those glutes and abs while working my shoulders, too!

Banded internal rotation

With your resistance band anchored at the middle of the resistance band as shown, start with your feet hip width apart and your hips square. Keep a slight bend in your elbows.

Start with your left hand down at your size stabilizing the handle of the resistance band. With your right hand, stabilize the elbow at your side, take a deep breath, and pull the band across your body. To protect your lower back, keep a tight core. 

resistance band internal rotation

When I was recovering from shoulder surgery, this was one of the more common shoulder rehab exercises I would do in physical therapy. I still enjoy it because it is an effective way to work on shoulder mobility.

Banded external rotation 

The external rotation exercise is similar to the internal rotation, except that we are adjusting the position of your arms. In the starting position, this time you will drop your right arm down, which should be closest to the spot where you’ve anchored the band.

resistance band external rotation

Reach across with your left arm at chest level, get a good grip onto the handle, keeping your elbow hugging your ribs, and pull the band across your body outward thus opening up the chest.

On the external rotation, you’ll feel this in the rear delt. 

I, Y, T physiotherapy shoulder exercise

I have saved my favorite exercise for last! This exercise is great because it actually targets 3 different ways to hit your shoulder muscles as well as the upper back.

For all three variations, you will start similar to the other starting positions with the center of the band between your feet with an even distribution of the resistance band and your feet hip width apart.  If you’re looking for a more intense workout, you can adjust the resistance of the band to meet your needs.

Remember, the focus isn’t on high reps at a high resistance, but to build strength at a pace and intensity that works for your body, so adjust accordingly and intuitively.

The first of three exercises is the front raise (the I of the trio). With an overhand grip on the resistance band handles and and upright posture without locked knees, engage those abs. Extend your arms out and up, no higher than shoulder level, and hold for a second at the top of the movement. Use torso, shoulder and arm muscles to maintain control and constant tension as you lower your arms.

Next, the scaption raise (the Y motion) is a slight variation to the front raise. Instead of going straight out with your arms, you will take them out at a slight diagonal. Grab the handles and keep your palms facing down. Again, lift and hold no higher than your shoulders.

Last, we have the lateral raise (the T). This is essentially the same exercise except this time you will move your arms out – you guessed it – laterally! As you lift your arms and extend them out to the side and away from your body, be conscious of making a controlled movement no higher than your shoulders, and avoid jerking movements as you lift.

As you can see, this exercise alone once again demonstrates the versatility and benefits of the band! It’s such a great tool that you can use to strengthen shoulders while sculpting your upper arms!

Resistance Band Shoulder Workout Tips

  • It’s a good idea to warm up with some shoulder stretches and neck rolls to get yourself loose!
  • You’ve seen me say this before and I will say it again: It’s all about quality over quantity! I don’t give specifics on the number of reps because I want you to build awareness of what your body needs. Generally, you can  aim for 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps, but adjust accordingly.  You can always start light and if you feel like you don’t have enough resistance, adjust from there!

Resistance band exercises are a great way to meet your fitness goals. Not to mention if you have a small space, they are great for home use as they provide the best, most versatile way to target multiple muscle groups. After my shoulder surgery, I have implemented these resistance band shoulder exercises to focus on building muscle and gaining back full range of motion so I can be the best, most active mom I can be!

Get more home workouts and fitness tips here!

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