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These Resistance Band Exercises Can Help You Build Bigger, Stronger Shoulders

In the latest in the Athlean-X series of weight-free workout videos, Jeff Cavaliere C.S.C.S. demonstrates a series of resistance band exercises that can help build bigger, stronger shoulders.

“Never underestimate the power of resistance bands in building muscle if you know how to use them,” he says.

You can add any of these dozen exercises to your upper body training days to add some weight-free variety to the workout, or create a shoulder-focused session by picking out four to six of your favorites and performing three to four high-rep sets.

Lying Single-Arm Press

While doing a banded overhead press can be tricky in terms of getting the right amount of resistance, Cavaliere fixes this issue by performing it horizontally. That way, you can bend your leg to adjust the amount of tension you’re placing on your shoulder muscles.

“As I get stronger, I can creep my foot down further and further, increasing the length of travel and stretch of the band,” he says. “I can introduce eccentric overload as well; once the band is fully extended over my head, I push my foot down and try to control the descent of the hand down to shoulder level.”

Push Press Pull Apart

This exercise enables you to increase the time under tension at the upper end of the move, pulling the band apart at the top of the press and introducing an element of adduction resistance.

Kneeling Up and Overs

If you’re looking to add some explosive power to your shoulder workout, this move is a simple and effective way to do so. Anchoring the band under your knees, press your hands into a prayer position and then focus on driving them upwards as quickly as possible.

“This is definitely going to hit the front and middle delt,” says Cavaliere.

Front Raise Pull Apart

“This looks like a traditional front dumbbell raise,” says Cavaliere, “but when we get to the top we can introduce some new stressors here, and prolong the time that we have to spend in the top position… Simply pull the bands apart. By doing that, we’ll shift a little bit of load to the middle and rear delt, but most importantly we’re prolonging the time under tension at the most difficult part of the front raise.”

Stretch Front Raise

This move presents another opportunity to introduce some eccentric overload by slowing down and controlling the descent of the arm as the band pulls it back and down after reaching the top end of the raise. “You can really see the fibers resisting this on every single repetition,” he says.

Side Lateral Raise

The key to getting the most benefit out of this exercise, Cavaliere explains, is to anchor the band under the opposite side foot to the arm that is performing the raise. Additionally, rather than using an overhand grip, simply anchor the upper end of the band around the back of your hand.

Short Arc Lateral Raise

An alternative to the side lateral raise, this move involves anchoring the band around your arms, and driving the elbows out away from the body. As you’re shortening the arc of movement here, this raise will require a heavier band to up that level of resistance.

Cross-Body Lateral Raise

“One great advantage here, similar to the stretch front raise, is I’m getting a stretch on the mid delt,” says Cavaliere. “You can see the tension that’s placed on the middle delt at the peak contraction; try to hold it for a second or two, and then resist the eccentric all across your body.”

Banded High Pull

“This not only introduces the abduction that we need to get our middle delts,” he says. “it has another component here that is so often overlooked; external rotation at the shoulder, which can always be beneficial to producing not just strong, but healthy shoulders.”

It’s important to remember when performing this move, he adds, to keep your hands above your elbows.

Hip Hugger

Using two separate bands, and anchoring them doubly around your feet to increase the resistance, this simple move mimics the action of pulling up a pair of pants. “At the very top of the movement, it’s important to hold the squeeze for at least a second or two, to reinforce that tension,” he says.

Rear Delt Pull

This move follows a similar movement pattern to a band pull apart, only this time the band is anchored around your back. Grip here is important; by looping the band around each hand, you make your arm the focal point of the movement, shifting load to the rear delt.

You can also increase the intensity of this move by performing a kneeling, alternating variation. “Either one of these is a great way to target the rear delt and get them to grow, especially if you’ve been ignoring them,” says Cavaliere.

Face Pull

One of Cavaliere’s absolute favorite exercises, the face pull has external rotation “built in” to target the rotator cuff.

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  • Posted on March 2, 2021