Updated October 27, 2023
Want to sculpt strong, defined shoulders without heavy weights or expensive equipment? Resistance bands are the perfect solution. Resistance bands provide a safe, low-impact way to strengthen your shoulders and improve mobility. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn practical resistance band exercises for shoulders, the benefits of resistance bands, how to choose suitable bands, proper technique tips, and a complete resistance band shoulder workout you can do at home. Blast your shoulders into shape and rehab nagging injuries with this resistance band shoulder workout. All you need is a set of resistance bands. Let’s get started!
Benefits of Resistance Bands for Shoulders
Resistance bands provide many benefits for shoulder health and performance. Here are some of the top benefits of using resistance bands for your shoulders:
- Safe and Low Impact: Resistance bands provide tension throughout the range of motion, which helps strengthen your shoulders through a full range of movement. They also eliminate the risk of injury from heavy weight dropping. Resistance bands are a very joint-friendly way to strengthen your shoulders.
- Easily Modified for Different Needs: Resistance bands come in a variety of resistance levels, so you can choose a band that challenges you appropriately. You can also easily make the exercises more complex as your shoulders get stronger. Resistance bands are ideal for all fitness levels.
- Portable, Inexpensive, and Easy to Use: Resistance bands are incredibly portable, so you can exercise anywhere. They are also budget-friendly and easy to set up and use. All you need is a door, pole, or other anchor to attach the bands to—no bulky, complicated equipment is required.
- Help Improve Mobility and Flexibility: In addition to strengthening your shoulders, resistance bands can help improve your shoulder mobility and flexibility. Shoulder stretches using resistance bands help loosen tight muscles and connective tissue, increasing your range of motion.
- Can Be Used for Rehabilitation: Resistance band shoulder exercises are ideal for rehabilitating injuries and easing back into strength training. The bands provide tension throughout the range of motion, helping stabilize the joint. They can also be used to target specific areas of the shoulder to aid recovery. Always check with your doctor before using resistance bands if you have a shoulder injury.
What to Look for When Buying Resistance Bands
Not all resistance bands are created equal. Here are some factors to consider when shopping for resistance bands to use for your shoulder workout:
- Different Resistance Levels: Look for a set of resistance bands that provide multiple resistance levels in one pack. As your shoulders get stronger, you can progress to higher resistance bands. Typical resistance levels for shoulder exercises include light (5-10 lbs.), medium (10-15 lbs.), heavy (15-20 lbs.) and extra-heavy (20-50 lbs.).
- High Quality and Durable: Choose resistance bands made of natural latex rubber specifically designed for exercise. These high-quality bands will last longer and provide more consistent resistance. Avoid cheaper bands made of latex tubing, as these can wear out quickly and snap under tension.
- Comfortable and Adjustable Handles: Look for resistance bands that come with comfortable, adjustable handles that you can grip easily during exercises. Some handles also allow you to attach multiple bands for more resistance. Padded handles are more comfortable, especially when using heavier bands.
- Door Anchor: For overhead shoulder presses and other exercises where you anchor the band above your head, look for a set that comes with a door anchor. The door anchor securely attaches to the door frame so you can stand facing away from the door with resistance coming from behind you. This allows for a greater range of motion than bands alone.
- Optional Extras: Some higher-end resistance band sets have optional extras like ankle straps, handles, exercise guides, and carrying cases. While not essential, these extras can provide more versatility and convenience. Ankle straps, for example, allow you to perform shoulder exercises like band walks, where the tension comes from your lower body.
Our favorite resistance band set is listed below. It has consistently been a top rated set for several years in a row and has everything you need to get started. Keep reading for tips on technique, essential resistance band exercises, and a full shoulder workout.
To get the most out of your resistance band shoulder exercises and avoid injury, follow these technique tips:
- Keep Your Core Engaged: Engage your core muscles during each exercise to provide stability for your shoulders. Your core includes your abs, lower back muscles, and glutes. Brace your core like someone is about to punch you in the stomach.
- Maintain Good Posture: Stand up straight with your chest up, shoulders back, and avoid locking your knees. Good posture will allow you to move through a full range of motion and prevent lower back strain. Make sure not to rock or swing the weight of your body as you exercise.
- Control the Movement: Move slowly through each exercise in a controlled manner. Don’t use momentum to swing the weight. Focus on using your shoulder muscles to raise and lower the resistance. Moving too quickly can cause injury and reduce effectiveness.
- Squeeze Your Shoulder Muscles: Squeeze your shoulder muscles at the top of each rep for maximum effectiveness. Focus on the contraction in your front, middle, and rear deltoids and upper back. The squeeze only needs to last a second before lowering back down.
- Start Light and Build Up Gradually: When starting out, choose a lighter resistance band and higher reps, around 15-20 reps per set. As your shoulders adapt, you can increase the resistance and decrease the reps to 8-12 per set. Only increase the resistance by 5-10 lbs. at a time to avoid overloading your shoulders.
- Stay Hydrated and Warm Up: Staying hydrated will help your muscles contract properly during your workout. Be sure to warm up your shoulders before exercising by doing some light cardio and dynamic stretches. Warming up reduces the risk of injury and prepares your muscles for the work ahead.
Best Resistance Band Exercises for Shoulders
Resistance bands are extremely versatile and can target your shoulders in many ways. Here are 4 of the best resistance band shoulder exercises to include in your workout:
- Reverse Fly: The reverse fly targets your rear deltoids. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold the handles in front of your thighs with arms extended. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise your arms out to the sides behind you while squeezing your shoulder blades back. Pause, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat for 8-12 reps.
- Front Raise: The front raise primarily works your front deltoids. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a handle in each hand with arms in front of your thighs. Raise your arms forward until they’re parallel to the floor. Pause, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat for 8-12 reps.
- Lateral Raise: The lateral raise targets your middle deltoids. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a handle in each hand with arms at your sides. Raise your arms to the sides until they’re parallel to the floor. Pause, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat for 8-12 reps.
- Standing Row: The standing row works your rear deltoids and upper back. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a handle in each hand with arms extended in front of your thighs. Bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight. Pull the handles up to the sides of your torso by drawing your shoulder blades back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat for 8-12 reps.
Complete Resistance Band Shoulder Workout
Now that you know some of the best resistance band shoulder exercises and how to choose a quality set of bands, put it all together into a full shoulder workout. This workout targets all areas of your shoulders through multiple exercises using resistance bands. Perform 2-3 rounds of each exercise, with 30-60 seconds of rest between rounds. Let’s get started!
- Single-Arm Band Shoulder Press: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold the handle in one hand with the arm extended overhead. Keeping your upper arm stationary near your head, bend your elbow, and lower your hand behind your head. Push back up by straightening your arm overhead. Repeat for 8-12 reps, then switch arms.
- Upright Row: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a handle in each hand with arms extended in front of your thighs. Keeping your back straight, pull the handles up toward your chin by drawing your shoulder blades back and up. Raise your shoulders and upper arms, keeping your forearms stationary and elbows close to your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat for 8-12 reps.
- Band Raise-Fly-Row Combo: This exercise combines multiple shoulder exercises into one fluid movement. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold a handle in each hand with arms at your sides. Raise your arms forward and up until they’re overhead (shoulder press). From there, open your arms to the sides in a fly motion. Bend your elbows and pull the handles down and back behind your head (row). Reverse the movement back to the starting position. Repeat for 8-12 reps.
- Single-Arm Band Lateral Raise: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold the handle in one hand with the arm at your side. Raise your arm to the side until it’s parallel to the floor while keeping a slight bend in your elbow. Pause, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat for 8-12 reps, then switch arms.
Perform this resistance band shoulder workout 2-3 times a week with rest days in between for the best results. Be sure to warm up your shoulders first and stay hydrated. Increase the resistance over time as your shoulders strengthen. This workout, a healthy diet, and regular cardio exercise will help you build strong, sculpted shoulders.
Resistance bands are an incredibly effective tool for building strong, sculpted shoulders. This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to get started with resistance band shoulder workouts. It features 4 of the best resistance band shoulder exercises that target all areas of your shoulders, proper technique tips to maximize your results, how to choose the right resistance bands, and an example workout routine to follow.
Resistance bands provide a safe, low-impact way to strengthen your shoulders at home with minimal equipment. For balanced, powerful shoulders, incorporate resistance band exercises 2-3 times a week, a balanced strength training program, and a healthy diet. Your shoulders will thank you!