Resistance Bands For Shoulder Training

It was December 2017 when Brandon Lily told me that the underlying issue holding me back from holding a stable bench press was my lack of rear delt training.  He was partially right, because in truth I wasn’t training rear delts at all.  And it’s easy to understand why, considering your Posterior Deltoids are, as the name says, Posterior.  So if it’s not a show muscle, why bother?

Much like I spoke about in my last article on strengthening your lower back, training your Posterior Deltoids should part of anyone’s routine, regardless of their goals.  And they should be trained every day.  Strengthening them provides better posture, more stability through balance, and reduces the chance of a rotator cuff injury while lifting with a relatively heavy weight.

Of course, there are many ways you can train or even just warm up your rear delts including Face Pulls, Dumbbell Lateral Raises (both of which I prefer to execute using external rotation) and Dumbbell Posterior Raises.  But depending on where and when you train, you might find that you’re desired machine or weighted dumbbell might be used by someone else and just maybe you might be pressed for time.  Is there a solution?

All Hail The Resistance Band!

The resistance band, in short, has been used for many aspects of training from physical rehabilitation to strengthening stabilizer muscles (an orthopedic doctor had me use one years ago for this reason) and to increase speed and physical performance.  But in recent years they’ve become a staple even in your local commercial gym and it’s easy to see why.  Since resistance equals tension, it will force you to work harder, whether you’re using the bands by themselves or especially if your adding tension to the bottom of a compound barbell movement.  They’re also inexpensive to buy, and clearly, you can travel anywhere with them, making the resistance band a convenient pre-workout warm-up/injury prevention tool.  Having said that here are a few on my favorite resistance band exercises to warm my shoulder up before any training session:

  • Band Pull Aparts – using a light resistance band, hold each end of the band at shoulder width, your shoulder back and your arms extended straight in front of you.  To properly execute the movement, squeeze your shoulder blades together in a controlled manner.  If this is done correctly, and you’ve reached full scapular retraction, the band will touch your chest. One completed, bring the band and your arms back to the starting position in the same controlled manner that you started with.  Never bend your elbows or use your arms while performing this move.  Make sure you feel your scapula doing the work.  If you cannot perform the move using both layers of the band you may use one layer until you are comfortable with the technique.

  • Band Dislocations – this is essentially a variation of the classic Shoulder Dislocation exercise, usually associated with a rod or stick.  Therefore, much like the classic take on the move, it’s just as much of a test of your mobility and flexibility as it is a strengthening tool, which can prove extremely beneficial when performing the Squat.  Much like the earlier mentioned Band Pull Aparts, you are to hold a light resistance band at shoulder width, this time with your arms at your sides.  While once again retracting your scapula, bring your arms over your head in a controlled manner.  The goal is to bring your arms behind you while keeping them straight the entire time.  Once your arms are behind you, and you maintained straight arms the entire time, bring them back over your head, still in a controlled manner, still keeping your arms straight, and back to your sides.  Go as slow as you can, that way you will feel just how tight your shoulders are, if they are.  If you cannot bring your arms completely over your head hold them at the point of tension for about thirty seconds.  After thirty seconds are up you may try to continue the movement.  It might take time to reach over your head and behind your back if you’ve never performed this before, so take your time.
  •  Banded Face Pulls With External Rotation – another variation of a fantastic upper back/rear delt exercise, this can be executed easily, without the help of any extra equipment.  Simply sit on the ground with a light resistance band.  Bend your knees slightly, and then wrap a light resistance band around your feet before holding the band on both sides at shoulder width, your arms in front of you and your hands in a neutral position.  Proceed to pull the band toward your eyes in a controlled fashion, squeezing the scapula, until your hands reach the sides of your face, the band almost touching you, your hands staying in a neutral position.  Keeping your hands in a neutral position with provide external rotation, with will help prevent a shoulder impingement as well as provide a nice stretch for your Anterior Deltoid as well your Pectoralis Minor.


The most important thing you can do is to warm up your shoulders before every workout you perform, especially before performing a major compound movement.  The upper back and rear delts are crucial to the safe and proper execution of all major compound movements in terms of mobility, flexibility and stability.  Make sure you consciously remember to squeeze your shoulder blades during your deadlift and bench press sets, and especially if you squat using the low bar position as I do.  I also recommend performing each exercise for 1 to 2 big sets of 8 to 12 reps each, one after the other.  Perform these consistently for just a week and you too will see a difference in your upper back strength and even your posture.


Want To Buy A Resistance Band?

Westside Barbell Premium Bands


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: