Best Shoulder Resistance Band Exercises

The most used joint on the body, the shoulder, is prone to injury and pain due to overuse or wrongful use. Sports that rely heavily on the shoulder such as American football, careers such as building and construction, and even age can naturally lead to shoulder pain.

To remedy this issue, you’ll need exercises that focus on your shoulders. Resistance bands offer some of the best such exercises including external up rotations with bands, internal side rotation with bands, reverse fly with bands, external side rotations with bands, high row (low) with bands, internal rotation (down) rotations with bands, lying front shoulder raise with bands, standing shoulder press with bands, seated high row with bands, and standing lateral shoulder raise with bands.

These exercises not only stretch and strengthen the shoulders, they also help repair any damage your shoulders may have sustained. When performing them, ensure you keep the motions slow and steady to attain the desired results. Otherwise, you may be doing more harm than good.

For the best shoulders in terms of strength, flexibility and appearance, the following ten exercises are the best you have. There are many more but these ones work on all parts of the shoulder with excellent results.

1. Standing Lateral Shoulder Raise with Bands

The last exercise on our list focuses on the side shoulder muscles as they also perform important functions in your general movement. While its benefits are far-reaching, the exercise itself is quite simple as depicted in the steps below:

  • Stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart and hold the ends of the band in both hands. Your hands should be resting on your body at the starting point of this exercise.
  • Spread out your arms as if flying but only raise them until they’re parallel to the ground before restoring the starting position.

Perform 15 reps and in 3 sets.

2. External Up Rotations with Bands

This exercise targets the rotator cuff muscles which are responsible for a lot of the movements in the shoulder. Bands are safer than weights when it comes to strengthening joints around the body as they don’t create heavy opposing momentum.

The exercise is done as follows:

  • Anchor the band at the waist height. If you’re using a band with definite ends, attach handles on the ends and hold both ends in your hands. If it’s a tape band, simply grab the other end with the hands elbow width apart (the length between your elbows when you have your hands spread out).
  • Bend your hands at 90 degrees at the elbow and ensure both your upper arms and forearms are parallel to the floor while still holding the ends of the band.
  • Your feet should be together with the rest of the body upright.
  • While keeping the upper arms parallel to the ground, rotate your forearms upwards until they’re perpendicular to the ground then return to the starting point. Essentially, your forearms will be rotating through a 90-degree range while the rest of the body stays still.

Perform 15 reps of this workout.

3. Internal Side Rotation with Bands

This exercise also targets the rotator cuffs but at a different angle. While the previous exercise focuses on the cuffs’ up-down motion, this one focuses on the sideways motion. It’s an effective exercise that’s even recommended by doctors whenever your shoulders aren’t behaving right.

It’s done as follows:

  • Anchor the band at waist height and hold the end(s) in one hand.
  • Stand away from the band’s anchor such that there’s some tension in the band in the resting position. Your feet should be shoulder width apart and your body upright.
  • The hand holding the band should be the one closest to it when facing 90 degrees away from the anchor.
  • Position the hand such that the elbow is close to your body and pull the band so that the forearm moves through a 90 degree angle of range.

With this exercise, you’re basically doing a greeting motion while pulling on the band. 15 reps is the optimal for this exercise as well.

4. Reverse Fly with Bands

For the rear shoulder, the reverse fly with bands is among the very best of exercises to perform. It’s very similar to the reverse fly exercise performed with weights at the gym.

It’s done as follows:

  • Anchor the band at your chest level and hold its ends in both hands.
  • Step back until the bands have tension when holding the bands in front of you with your hands stretched out.
  • Your legs should be shoulder width apart and slightly bent for stability.
  • Start with the hands together then pull the band outwards until your hands are forming a T with your upper body. Revert to the starting point for a rep.

Perform 15 reps in three sets.

5. External Side Rotations with Bands

For this exercise, you’ll be doing something very similar to what you did in the internal side rotations with bands. In fact, you’re very much likely to perform them one after the other with very few adjustments on your part. It also targets the rotator cuff muscles.

It’s done as follows:

  • Anchor the band waist high then stand facing 90 degrees from the anchor. Your feet should be shoulder width apart.
  • Hold the ends of the band with the hand farthest from the anchor. That hand’s elbow should be on the body and the forearm parallel to the ground.
  • Perform 90-degree angle movements with this hand outwards and inwards as far as you can.

Perform 15 reps and in 3 sets.

6. High Row (Low) with Bands

For the rear shoulders, another great workout is the high row (low) with bands. The low in brackets refers to the anchor level of the band. It’s a bit difficult to perform if you don’t bend down and get a proper position for stability.

It’s done as follows:

  • Anchor the band at your feet level then hold the ends in both hands separately. Your body should be slightly bent forward to gain stability with the feet shoulder width apart.
  • With your hands forming a straight line to the anchor point of the band, pull the band towards you till your upper arm is parallel to the floor then return them to the starting point.

Perform 15 reps and in 3 sets.

7. Internal Rotations (Down) with Bands

The internal rotations with bands borrows a lot from external up rotations with bands. The posture is the same and the hand movements are also similar. The only difference is the location of the band relative to the body and hence the resistance.

You do it as follows:

  • Anchor the band higher than your head then hold the ends in your hands while facing away from the anchor point. Your upper arms hands should be by your side forming a 90-degree angle with the floor. Your upper arms should be holding the ends of the band while perpendicular to the ground.
  • Pull on the band without moving your upper arm. The result is a 90-degree angle of motion for the forearm.

Perform 15 reps and in 3 sets.

8. Lying Front Shoulder Raise with Bands

For the front shoulders, the lying front shoulder raise with bands is what you need. Its advantage is that it doesn’t require much input from your spine. If you have a back problem and don’t want to disturb the back, this is it.

The steps are as follows:

  • Anchor the band at the feet level then lie on your back with your feet facing the anchor point. Your feet should be naturally spread and knees slightly bent upwards.
  • With your hands together, pull on the ends of the band upwards through your legs until your arms are perpendicular to the ground. Restore the starting point to complete the rep.

Perform 15 reps and in 3 sets.

9. Standing Shoulder Press with Bands

This list would be incomplete without the shoulder press exercise. It compresses the body muscles with a particular focus on the shoulder area.

It’s done as follows:

  • Stand upright with both feet together and the band looped under them.
  • Hold the ends of the band in both hands such that your upper arms are parallel to the ground and your forearms perpendicular to the ground.
  • Push your arms directly upwards and back to the starting point to complete the rep.

Perform 15 reps and in 3 sets.

10. Seated High Row with Bands

Another workout targeting the rear shoulder, the seated high row with bands is among the most effective exercises as it benefits from the stability of the seated position that may lack in the standing exercises. It’s also among the most taxing of the rear shoulder exercises.

You do it as follows:

  • Anchor the band at knee height then sit facing the anchor point. Your knees should be slightly raised to provide extra support for the body during the workout.
  • At the resting point, your back should be upright and your hands stretched out towards the anchor point. Your palms should be shoulder width apart and facing down.
  • Pull on the bands until your upper arms are parallel to the ground and your elbows are making a 90-degree angle.

Perform 15 reps and in 3 sets.


Exercises and the muscles they target

Intense Schedule

Best Shoulder Bands

The five best resistance bands for your shoulders include the following:

1. Tribe Resistance Bands Set

2. REEHUT Single Resistance Band

3. Lim Resistance Bands Exercise Loops

4. FOMI 7 Ring Stretch and Resistance Exercise Band

5. Koncle 11 pcs Resistance Band Set

These are cheap yet very effective bands that allow you vary the level of resistance in your workout.

Further Reading