External Rotation With Resistance Bands

There are so many exercises out there that focus on internally (to the inside) rotate the shoulder and most workout plans also focus on that. The problem here is, without training the other side of your rotator cuff, you will create an imbalance at some point that will cause your shoulder to not only suffer extra stress, no, you will work that down over time until you either have a serious injury or even worst.

This is the reason why you should always do these external rotation (to the outside) with your shoulder as well to keep the balance up and have healthy shoulders in the long run.

In this article I will show you several versions of the external rotation that you can all do with a light resistance band and that will keep you save for the future.

External Rotation With Resistance Band

Let’s jump right into how you do the external rotation with resistance bands.

Band VS Weights & Machines

Doing your external rotation with a resistance band gives you several advantages over doing them with a machine or with free weights.

  • Don’t leave results on the table! You are leaving results on the table by using either the wrong resistance bands or the wrong workout plan. No worries, we got you covered – take our free workout plan tailored for your goals here and make sure to check out our perfectly tuned set of resistance bands here.
  • A Lot More Freedom! Most external rotation exercises are hard to train with weights as you need to get into some strange positions. Resistance Bands allow you to train this at home without having to own something like a cable machine.
  • Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscle, having the most power in the full contraction. With a cable machine or weights, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
  • Joint Friendly & Less Disbalances! When using a bar you’re more fixed in your hand position and put more stress on your joints while bands let you get in a more natural hand position and prevent injuries.

There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights or machines, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing an external rotation, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training and bodybuilding, check it out here.

How To Do External Rotation The Right Way

For the very basic version, you will anchor the resistance band at the door or somewhere else at chest-height and stand with a 90-degree angle to it.

External Roation gif

Get into a neutral, upright position with your elbow at your body. Your elbow position is important, do not move the elbow away from your body during this whole exercise.

Now turn your arm outwards while maintaining your elbow position and you will feel the contraction on the back of your shoulder.

Important Do’s & Don’ts!!!

No Slack – you really need a light band for this exercise and it already has to be some kind of stretched at the beginning of the movement.

If you have slack in the band, you will not get the resistance and tension needed to train your rotator cuff muscles properly with this external rotation exercise so drop your ego, if needed, and take resistance band that works for you.

Elbow Position – your elbow needs to be at your body all the time. If you start raising your arm, you will get your delts in and you will not really work your rotator cuff muscles.

A nice trick here is to tuck something like a small tower in between your arm and your upper body so you will mentally always press it against your upper body and when it falls down, you always know what you did wrong 🙂

Shoulders Up – don’t rotate your shoulders in and round your shoulders, you want to have an upright position.

The problem with rotating your shoulders in is that you will get your delts in and they are already a part of the problem and pull your rotator cuff out of the middle. So, straight up, shoulders together and your chest out.

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Alternative Ways To External Rotate With Resistance Bands

You can move your arm in many directions and your rotator cuff muscles mimic that as well – for this reason, there are different variations that you should all do (or switch through) to train all parts of your rotator cuff right when doing the external rotation with a resistance band.

Both-Armed – no, this is NOT an alternative! I have this here because I see this quite a lot. Do NOT do your external rotation like this because you will not effectively work your rotator cuff with this movement as the direction of the resistance changes while pulling out. Also, it’s really difficult to find a resistance band that has no slack at this small stretch in the starting position and enough resistance to really work your rotator cuff muscles. Simply do it uni-sided

External Roation 2 arms
External Rotation (Up)
– This version will work more on the upper muscles of your rotator cuff and is a great addition to the regular external rotation shown above. You simply stand upright with your arms at a 90 degree angle and rotate your army back. Don’t think about pushing here, think about actually rotating them.

External Roation back
Diagonal Rotation 
– this is a variation that will also focus more on the upper part of your rotator cuff but is a great alternative for you if you have problems rotating your arms up as shown in the previous variation. Start at your hip and move your arm out and stretch it as much out and back as you can so you can feel your rotator cuff muscles.

External Roation diagonal

Mini Band Arm Walks – this variation is great with mini bands and makes it fun to warm up your shoulders or work on that shoulder stability. Simply put your arms inside a mini band (around your wrists), place your arms against the wall so your hands and elbows are touching the wall. Now start moving one arm at time to the side. You can play around with the distance you travel with one movement. The greater the distance the more stretch and the more resistance you will have.

External Roation mini band gif

Full Shoulder Workout

Simply doing external rotations is not a full shoulder workout as there are multiple muscles working in your shoulders – we have here a full shoulder workout with different exercises that will give you the strongest shoulders you can ever think of – check it out here.

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