young man holding a green resistance band in his hands stretching it across his chest to exercise

Shoulder joints are complex. They’re one of the most versatile joints in the body but with such a big range of movement, they’re also one of the most prone to injury.  

Naturally quite weak, the main muscles surrounding the shoulder joint (your delts) are fairly small in comparison to other muscles.  

However, by taking care of your shoulders and strengthening them in the right way, you’re able to support the joints and leave them less open to problems.  

This is also going to help your performance when doing your main heavy lifts i.e. your squat, bench press and deadlift. All these movements need your shoulders in one way or another. So, by doing simple exercises regularly, you can really progress your strength training.  

Below, we’ll go through some key exercises you can do to help keep your shoulders in good condition. 

What are resistance bands good for? 

fitness expert uses mirafit resistance band to lat pulldown exercises

Resistance Bands are a great tool for helping you strengthen muscles as well as improve joint mobility. 

There is a wide range of benefits to be had in using resistance bands in your workouts. However, one of the main reasons why they’re so good for shoulder exercises is that they’re not going to push you past what you can do. 

Picking up heavy weights can strain your joints. And if you’re working on rehabilitating your shoulders or simply working on your weak spots, then resistance bands are a great way to do this, without the added pressure.  

Using resistance bands is also great for improving the quality of your workouts. More often than not, people can fall into bad habits such as relying on momentum to push them through the last few reps; or not maintaining tension throughout each rep. By using resistance bands, you’re increasing your effort level but also sustaining that effort throughout the exercise. So, with a greater level of contraction, you’re really optimising your workout. 

And finally, resistance bands can be used by pretty much any age and any ability. There are different levels available and you can swap out different bands for different exercises, to suit you. 

Best shoulder exercises 

These shoulder exercises are not only great for helping you with your mobility, but they’re also a great warm up before you start training.  

As well as basic strengthening exercises, we’ve included some shoulder stretches which will help give you a full range of mobility. 

We recommend you do 10-20 of each exercise, depending on how you feel and your current strength levels.

1 - External rotation 

fitness expert uses mirafit resistance band to do lateral external rotations

This is a really great exercise for anyone who spends a lot of time at a desk. It’s also great for helping your posture too.  

Make sure your thumbs are pointing outwards to help you maximise the rotation. You also want to make sure your elbows stay tucked into your body and your chest is elevated. 

You can do this exercise using both shoulders at the same time. However, we recommend starting off with just one shoulder at a time so that you can concentrate on the movement and make sure that one arm isn’t working harder than the other.  

2 - Internal rotation 

This exercise is basically the opposite of the external rotation. So, instead of moving your hands outwards, you’re moving them in and pulling the band across your body. 

The same notes about posture apply so keep your thumbs pointing outwards and your elbows tucked in.  

3 - Overhead pull downs 

These exercises are quite similar to skier-style exercises. Tie a resistance band to the top of a power rack so that it’s hanging down in front of you. 

You need to be in a squat position with your back straight. Your neck needs to be in-line with your spine – so remember that you’re not looking straight ahead but more towards the floor. Raise your arms up so that they cover your ears and have your hands in a neutral grip with your thumbs pointing up towards the ceiling.  

Keeping your arms straight, pull down and back so that your hands meet the sides of your hips. Your elbows need to be locked out the whole way. Then release slowly to start again. 

4 - Resistance band horizontal rear delt flyes 

This one is basically having your arms straight out in front of you and then moving them out to the sides with your elbows locked the whole time.  

Tie the resistance band to a rack, directly out in front of you. Hold it with both hands, with your arms level with your shoulders and your back straight. Start with some tension on the band so that your chest is pushed forward slightly. Move each arm out to the side with the backs of your hands facing upwards.  

Squeeze your shoulders together and then bring your arms slowly back to the starting position.  

5 - Resistance band Y-fly 

fitness expert uses mirafit resistance band to do y flyes

Start in the same way mentioned above with the resistance band tied to a rack in front of you. Hold it with both hands straight out in front of you, level with your shoulders and a similar width apart. 

Your thumbs should be pointing inwards so they’re at a slight angle.  

With your arms straight, lift them up and back so that you form a ‘Y’ shape. Squeeze your shoulders together and then bring them back down to the starting position.  

6 - Resistance band row with external rotation 

This is a two-step exercise which is great for working your shoulder joints. Start with one arm straight out in front of you, with your thumb pointing downwards slightly. Bring the band in towards your chest, keeping it level, just like a traditional row. Then, move your hand up, so that your forearm is at a right angle to your body. Then reverse the movement so your hand comes back down and then straightens up again. Repeat for the same amount of reps on the other side. 

7 - Upward row 

Stand inside the loop of your exercise band. Grab the other end of the band and have your palms facing inwards. Pull your hands straight up towards your face keeping your knuckles pointing towards the floor. Squeeze your shoulders at the top and then release slowly back down. 

8 - Pass through stretch 

fitness expert uses mirafit resistance band to finish pass through stretch

This exercise is not just great for your shoulders but also for opening out your chest. For this exercise, the band doesn’t need to be tied to anything. 

Instead, hold the band in each hand so it’s stretched across your body at hip height. Keep your shoulders down and your chest elevated. Keep the band stretched and lift your arms up over your head. Your elbows should be locked out and as the band passes over your head, they should be at a slight angle. Keep going back and down so that you finish with the band back at hip height but this time with the band behind you rather than in front. Bring your arms back over and repeat. 

The most important part of this stretch is when your arms have just passed your head and are behind you at shoulder height. So, remember to do this bit carefully and slowly, to sustain the stretch. 

Doing all of these exercises will really help keep your shoulders moving as well as reduce your risk of experiencing any problems. They’re easy to do and can be done as a warm up too.  

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Tags: Equipment > Resistance Bands ; Exercise Type > Conditioning ; Misc > Workout ; Target Area > Arms