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Why Resistance Band Workouts are Awesome! Shoulder Special

Resistance band workouts female cover image

Resistance band workouts can be used to strengthen every muscle in the body. In this article, we will answer some common questions about resistance bands and give you some exercises specifically for your shoulders.

Common Questions about Resistance Band Workouts and Training

In the first part of this article, we aim to answer some the of the most frequently asked questions regarding resistance bands.

What are Resistance Bands?

Elastic resistance bands are an inexpensive, convenient and effective way of adding resistance exercises to any workout. Research has proven the effectiveness of elastic resistance training (ERT) across ages, from children to older adults, as well as from sedentary people to elite athletes.

How do Resistance Bands Work?

Resistance bands work as you stretch the elastic band, the resistance increases. This resistance provides a progressive stimulus to the muscle to build strength and help increase muscle mass. ERT allows us to exercise single or multiple joints at one time, making exercises functional and efficient.

A comprehensive resistance exercise programme can easily be performed with a single band and can be done anywhere, including at home or on the road.

What are the Benefits of Resistance Bands?

  • Can train the whole body.
  • Proven to improve strength as much as free weights and machines.
  • Durable and light.
  • Functional.
  • Improve flexibility.
  • Excellent for rehab programmes.
  • Cheap.
  • Easy to use.
  • Can be adapted for injury prevention and performance enhancement.

Who Uses Resistance Bands?

Elastic resistance with strength bands provides a full spectrum of resistance training options—from rehabilitation to wellness. They are used by a variety of individuals, young to old, beginners to elite athletes. Bands and tubing are also used for injury prevention and performance enhancement programmes. Resistance band workouts are now commonly used by certified Personal Trainer’s, S&C coaches and physiotherapists.

In our recent Twitter poll, we found that most of our followers use them for rehab.

How to Prevent Shoulder Injuries with Resistance Bands

In this video Todd Ellenbecker, the co-author of Strength Band Training, 3rd Edition explains some of the basic movements that should be considered in a resistance band workout to prevent injuries.

When Should Resistance Bands be Used?

Here are some examples of the types of training you can do with resistance bands.

  • Isolated Training
  • Rehabilitative or Corrective Training
  • Functional Training
  • Strength Training
  • Core Training
  • Flexibility Training
  • Warm-Up and Cool-Down

You can learn all about these resistance band workouts in Strength Band Training, 3rd Edition.

What Exercises Can Be Done With Resistance Bands?

Many exercises can be performed with a strength band or tube. The whole body can be trained with strength bands. This is explained in Strength Band Training, 3rd Edition with many examples.

One exercise band can be used to strengthen all the major muscle groups with exercises such as a bench press, seated row, upright row, lat pull-down, leg press, knee extension or hamstring curl. Elastic resistance bands may also be used to strengthen specific muscles that cannot easily be activated muscle-specific machines, such as the rotator cuff and peroneus longus (a muscle important to ankle stability). The resistance can easily be increased (or decreased) by moving to the next colour of resistance band or tube.

Do Elite Athletes Use Resistance Bands?

Athletes from a variety of sports perform resistance band workouts. They are light, versatile and durable, especially useful when travelling. Athletes use strength training bands to add resistance and will, therefore, strengthen and condition their muscles for sport-specific functional drills.

Andy Murray using resistance bands
Andy Murray warming up with a resistance band. (Photo by Patrik Lundin)

Why Should You Use Resistance Bands?

Elastic resistance can easily be integrated into a fitness programme. Using ERT frees you from the limitations of gravity, allowing you to isolate muscles and perform the same movements in a totally different way, perhaps becoming more functionally specific as well. In addition, elastic bands can be used to perform flexibility or balance exercises, which expands the range of options for improving overall fitness. They also help you get strength gains.

How do Resistance Bands Help Recovery from Injury?

One of the benefits of elastic resistance bands is that the level of resistance can be easily changed by greater elongation of the band itself. Great care must be taken to not use too much resistance, particularly when exercising around an area that has been injured.

Phil Page and Todd Ellenbecker, the authors of Strength Band Training, 3rd Edition state that low-resistance programming coupled with higher numbers of repetitions (at least 15 reps), intended to foster and create muscular fatigue, are recommended. Additionally, use a range of motion that is not painful and do not take the joint to end ranges of motion. This can allow important muscular contractions and muscle work to be performed in an area that otherwise could not accommodate full range-of-motion exercise.

What are the Best Resistance Band Workouts?

This depends on the goal if its sports performance, if so which sport or is it for rehab or corrective training? You can also adapt the training for general fitness and aesthetics.

Here are a few recommendations for different goals. The best resistance band workouts and exercises for shoulders are explained at the bottom of this article.

All these exercises and many more are explained in Strength Band Training, 3rd Edition.

Resistance Band Exercises for Glutes

  • Bridge
  • Hip lift
  • Band loop bridge
  • Hip extension (donkey kick)
  • Side-laying hip lift
  • Lateral lunge

Resistance Band Exercises for Chest

  • Supine pullover
  • Dynamic hug
  • Chest press
  • Chest fly
  • Push up
  • Forward punch

Resistance Band Exercises for Back

  • Seated row
  • Shrug
  • High row
  • Standing back extension
  • Supine stabilisation
  • Side bend

Resistance Band Exercises for Thighs/Quads

  • Monster walk
  • Squat walk
  • Hip clock
  • Fire hydrant
  • Front Squat
  • Lunge

Resistance Band Exercises for Older Adults

  • Chair squat
  • Leg press
  • Seated row
  • Overhead press
  • Ankle dorsiflexion
  • Ankle plantarflexion

Resistance Band Exercises for Golf

  • Golf swing acceleration
  • Golf swing take back
  • Trunk rotation with arm twists

Resistance Band Exercises for Football (Soccer)

  • Hip abduction
  • Hip adduction
  • Diagonal kick

Resistance Band Exercises for Tennis

  • Lateral box step
  • Horizontal abduction
  • Square stance forehand resisted movement

Shoulder Training Programme for Tennis Players

In this video Todd Ellenbecker, the co-author of Strength Band Training, 3rd Edition shows you how to perform shoulder training for a tennis player

Can Resistance Bands Improve Strength?

Yes, resistance bands improve strength and hypertrophy. Performing a push-up with an elastic band can provide 39% more global activation of muscles and as much pectoralis activation as 70% of a maximum bench press (Calatayud et al. 2014).

In a meta-analysis, Aboodarda and colleagues (2016) noted that there was no significant difference in EMG muscle activation levels in 14 studies comparing elastic and isotonic (traditional lifts that have eccentric and concentric actions) resistance exercises. In addition, they found that elastic resistance training (ERT) enhances the activation of stabiliser muscles during exercises compared to isotonic resistance.

More research demonstrates that ERT provides as much benefit in strength gains as the use of more expensive and bulky weight-training equipment. A study by Colado and Triplett (2008) compared 10 weeks of elastic- and machine-based exercise at the same intensities. The researchers found no significant difference between the groups: both the elastic- and machine-based groups significantly increased their strength and muscle mass. Furthermore, the researchers pointed out that the elastic resistance exercisers benefited from lower cost and less space for training compared to the machine-based exercisers.

Are Resistance Bands better than Weights?

Biomechanically, elastic resistance provides the same strength curves (resistive torque) as free weights and dumbbells, providing adequate stimulus for even elite athletes (Aboodarda et al. 2013). Resistance bands allow us to exercise single or multiple joints at one time, making exercises more functional and efficient. Exercise machines and dumbbells use gravity against the weights (isotonic resistance) and often limit you to one particular exercise per machine. Elastic resistance, on the other hand, doesn’t rely on gravity; rather, its resistance depends on how much the band or tubing is stretched. In addition, elastic resistance offers innumerable exercise options. Resistance bands are generally considered safer than weights too.

Do Bodybuilders Use Resistance Bands?

As resistance bands can increase muscle hyprtrophy a lot of the best bodybuilders do use resistance bands. Aboodarda and colleagues (2011) compared physiological responses of ERT with resistance bands and weight machines, they found that elastic resistance is an adequate training stimulus for muscular hypertrophy. Furthermore, Sundstrup and collaborators (2012) showed that full muscle activation can be reached with elastic-resisted shoulder exercises before muscle failure, indicating elastic resistance is an “effective, practical and easy-to-use alternative to traditional resistance equipment.”

ERT also provides better muscle activation patterns compared to machines. For example, performing an abdominal curl-up with elastic tubing reduces activation of the hip flexors by 58% when compared to an abdominal machine and provides 24% more abdominal muscle activation (Sundstrup et al. 2012) Furthermore, performing a lunge with an elastic band significantly increases activation of the posterior chain muscles when compared to a lunge with dumbbells (Jakobsen et al. 2013).

Resistance Band Workouts for Shoulders

The exercises and images are taken from our new book Strength Band Training, 3rd Edition.

Lateral Raise

Muscle worked -Middle Deltoid

Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other with the middle of the band or tubing under the foot. Grasp the two ends of the band and bring them around the outside of the feet (a). Lift the band out to the side at shoulder level, keeping your elbows straight (b). Slowly return to the starting position.

Lateral Raise start Best Resistance Band Workouts for Shoulders
a. Lateral Raise starting position
Lat Raise finish position Best Resistance Band Workouts for Shoulders
b) Lateral Raise finish position

Variation

Alternate lifting right and left arms.

Technique Tip

Keep your shoulder blades down; avoid shrugging your shoulders with the movements. Keep your abdominals tight and your wrists straight.

Training Tip

Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down? This exercise is also known as the full can. Originally, it was performed with the thumbs down and called the empty can. However, researchers suggest this exercise be performed with the thumbs up to reduce the risk of shoulder impingement at similar muscle activation levels (Thigpen et al. 2006).

Front Raise

Muscle worked – Anterior Deltoid

Use a staggered step, with one foot slightly in front of the other, and stand on the middle of the band or tubing with one foot. Grasp the ends of the band (a) and lift the band forward to shoulder height, keeping your elbows straight (b). Slowly return to the starting position.

Best Resistance Band Workouts for Shoulders - front raise
Start position for front raise (a)
Best Resistance Band Workouts for Shoulders-  front raise finish position
Finishing position for front raise (b)

Variation

Alternate lifting right and left arms. Perform with the palms up for more biceps activation.

Technique Tip

Keep your shoulder blades down; avoid shrugging your shoulders with the movements. Avoid arching your back; keep it straight. Keep your abdominals tight and your wrists straight.

Scaption

Muscles worked – Deltoids, Rotator Cuff, especially Supraspinatus

Stand with one foot in front of the other and place the middle of the band or tubing under the front foot. Grasp the ends of the band or tubing and bring your arms slightly in front of your body to about 30° (a). Lift the band out to the side to shoulder height (b). Keep your thumbs up and elbows straight. Slowly return to the starting position.

Best Resistance Band Workouts for Shoulders scaption a
Scaption (a)
Best Resistance Band Workouts for Shoulders scaption b
Scaption (b)

Variation

Alternate lifting right and left arms. Be sure to stop at shoulder height.

Technique Tip

Keep your shoulder blades down; avoid shrugging your shoulders with the movements. Avoid arching your back; keep it straight. Keep your abdominals tight and your wrists straight.

Training Tip

Researchers found that performing this exercise for 2 minutes, 5 days a week for 12 weeks will significantly reduce shoulder and neck pain in office workers (Andersen et al. 2011).

Serratus Punch

Muscles worked – Serratus Anterior, Anterior Deltoid

Securely attach one end of the band to a sturdy object behind you. Grasp the end of the band at shoulder height with your elbow extended. Keep your trunk steady and shift your shoulder forward to punch the end of the band away from the attachment. Slowly return to the starting position.

Serratus punch shoulder workout
Serratus Punch

Variation

Perform the exercise by placing the middle of the band around your upper back. Grasp the end of the band at shoulder level and push the band forward as you keep your elbow straight.

Technique Tip

Don’t shrug your shoulders. Keep your elbow straight throughout the exercise. Don’t allow your trunk to rotate during the exercise.

Upper Body Bruegger

Muscles worked – Scapular and Upper Thoracic Muscles

Begin with a looped band or wrap the ends of a band around each hand. Perform the following movements against the resistance of the band with both hands:

  1. Thumb and finger abduction and extension, wrist extension (a)
  2. Forearm supination, shoulder external rotation (b)
  3. Elbow extension, shoulder abduction, extension, scapular retraction (c)
  4. Slowly return in exactly the reverse order
Shoulder exercise resistance band Upper Body Bruegger
a – Upper Body Bruegger
Shoulder exercise resistance band Upper Body Bruegger
b – Upper Body Bruegger
Shoulder exercise resistance band Upper Body Bruegger
c – Upper Body Bruegger

Technique Tip

Maintain an upright posture with a neutral neck and back.

Strength Band Training

Adapted from:

Strength Band Training, 3rd Edition

Phil Page & Todd Ellenbecker

Further Reading

For more resistance band exercises for shoulders and back check out Resistance Band Exercises adapted from Nick Tumminello’s Your Workout PERFECTED

Other resources include:

Resistance Band Workouts on the Move

resistance band workouts

Win a Copy

Our partners over at Cricket World are giving you a chance to win a copy of Strength Band Training, 3rd Edition. The Prize Draw will take place on 4th December 2019 and the lucky winners will be notified by email.

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Hi, I'm Ryan, the Marketing Manager and chief blogger here at Human Kinetics Europe Ltd. As somewhat of a washed-up athlete I've always had a passion for health, fitness and sport science. I now find myself working at the world’s biggest independent publisher of sport, health, dance and fitness resources. This means I get unrestricted access to all the best, most interesting, scientifically-proven writing on sports science. Of course I'm going to share this with you!

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