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Shoulder Exercises With Resistance Bands

by
author image Tim Petrie
Tim Petrie is a Physical Therapist and an Orthopedic Certified Specialist working in Milwaukee, Wisc. When he isn't working, he loves distance running, Packers football, and traveling with his wife and his energetic three year old daughter.
Shoulder Exercises With Resistance Bands
Resistance bands can be used to give each of the muscles in your shoulders a great workout. Photo Credit pecaphoto77/iStock/Getty Images

If you’ve been looking for a way to strengthen your shoulder muscles at home without needing weights, check out the humble resistance band. They can provide your shoulders with an effective and comprehensive strengthening workout. And as an added bonus, they're cheap and portable!

For the best shoulder-strengthening workout, complete two to three sets of 10 repetitions of each resistance band exercise two to three times each week. None of the band exercises should cause increased pain. If you’ve had a recent shoulder injury or surgery, consult your doctor or physical therapist prior to beginning the exercises.

Read more: Resistance Band Exercises

1. 90/90 External Rotation

This exercise targets several different shoulder external rotator muscles, including the infraspinatus and the teres minor. These muscles help with many different activities like washing your hair or putting on a seat belt.

HOW TO DO IT: Sit in a chair with your right forearm and palm resting on a shoulder-level counter or table at your side. A rolled towel can be used under the elbow to raise the arm to an appropriate height. Secure one end of a resistance band under your right foot and hold the other end with your right hand.

Keeping the elbow bent at a 90 degree angle, slowly rotate your forearm backwards until it is vertical and your palm is facing forward. Maintain the hold for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly rotate your forearm and palm back to the counter. Complete 10 repetitions and then switch to the left arm.

2. Full Can

Full cans help strengthen your supraspinatus, one of the primary muscles used to lift your arm overhead.

HOW TO DO IT: While standing, secure one end of a resistance band under your right foot and hold the other end in your right hand. Keeping your elbow straight and your thumb up, slowly raise the arm at a 45-degree angle with your body.

Lift the arm as high as you can without shrugging your shoulders or arching your back. Hold the arm at its highest point for 1 to 2 seconds and then slowly lower it back to your side. After doing this 10 times, repeat with your left arm.

Read more: How to Strengthen Shoulder Ligaments

3. Resisted Internal Rotation

This exercise activates the internal or medial rotation muscles of the shoulder. These muscles help with activities like tucking in a shirt, putting on a bra or throwing a ball.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand with a door on your right side. Secure one end of a resistance band in the door and hold onto the other end with your right hand. Your elbow should be bent at a 90-degree angle and your palm should face inward.

Keeping the elbow bent and at your side, slowly rotate your forearm inwards toward your body until it reaches your abdomen. Maintain this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then release the tension as you rotate your forearm back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 10 times and then switch to the left side.

4. Rows

Rows target several different muscles, including the rhomboids and the middle trapezius. These muscles retract the shoulders and help to improve your posture.

HOW TO DO IT: With the middle of a resistance band secured in a door, grab one end of the band with each hand. Pull away from the door with each hand as though you are rowing a boat.

Your forearms should stay parallel to the floor throughout this exercise. As you pull, squeeze your shoulder blades down and back. Hold the position for a second or two and then release the tension in the band as you relax your shoulder blades. Complete this exercise 10 times.

5. D2 flexion

D2 flexion gives the muscles that elevate and retract the shoulders are great workout.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand on one end of a resistance band with your left foot and hold the other end with your right hand. Raise your arm along a diagonal starting near your left thigh and ending over your right shoulder with your palm facing forward and your elbow extended.

As you reach the ending position, bring your right shoulder blade down and back. Hold this position for 1 to 2 seconds and then release the tension on the band as you slowly move back to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions and then repeat with the left arm.

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