The 9 Best Shoulder Exercises With Resistance Bands

Resistance Bands are a great tool to build your shoulders and in this article I want to show you all the different exercises as well as give you background information how to combine them to really hit all parts of your shoulder right.

In the first part, you will find some information about the anatomy of your shoulder muscles that are important to understand the different shoulder exercises and then you will find all the shoulder exercises with details.

How To Build Your Shoulders

Your shoulder has 3 different so-called heads – the anterior head (front), lateral head (side) and posterior head (rear). Those three heads form your shoulders.

shoulder muscles

Anterior Head (Front) – this is the part of your shoulder that’s also involved in any pressing movement to the front and upwards of your body, like incline chest presses.

Lateral Head (Side) – this is the side part of your shoulder that helps raising your arm sideways. You train it normally with lateral raises.

Posterior Head (Rear) – to make the shoulder movement capability complete, this part is involved for bringing your arm back. It’s involved in exercises like face pulls or reverse flys.


For 99% of the people, it’s safe to say that the front part of the shoulder is developed more than the other ones. Also, most people have their rear part of the shoulder less developed. The reason is that we have many pressing movements in most workouts where the front head is involved as well, especially in chest press exercises.

So, if you want to train your shoulders and already do exercises like incline chest presses already, you don’t need to do additional isolation exercises for your front delts. But you really should do isolation exercises for your side delts and especially your rear delts.

If you’re not sure if your workout plan works all shoulder parts well, you really should check out our Free Workout Plan here that will give you a workout plan that fits your needs.

Important! For shoulder health, I can only recommend you to also include an exercise for external rotation of your shoulder to prevent imbalance and later injuries. You can find more details here.

Important Tips For Shoulder Exercises With Resistance Bands

Here are some general tips that you should always keep in mind, no matter what shoulder exercise you will do:

Don’t Swing! Keep your body in a fixed position and don’t start swinging with your back. If you have problems doing an exercise you might rather use a lighter band.

Time Under Tension! Don’t just do your reps as fast as you can, you need to put your muscles under tension long enough to gain. Squeeze at the top of the movement and hold for a second there and then slowly return instead of “letting go” quickly. This will add more gains to every workout

Alright, that’s enough theory for now, let’s jump into the shoulder exercises that you can do with resistance bands.

The Best Shoulder Exercises To Do With Resistance Bands

I have here all the exercises from compound to isolation exercises, the order is not a ranking from “best to worst”.

Compound Exercise #1 – Shoulder Press

 

Shoulder Press push press finish

This is the bread-and-butter exercise for any shoulder workout and an essential exercise to build your front head of your shoulder

  1. Stand on the bands hip width apart
  2. Grip under the band with your hands next to your shoulder
  3. Upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
  4. Now push your hands up to full extension
  5. Hold up for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands down

Find more tips to do this exercise in perfect form here.

Variations

You can also do the shoulder press uni-lateral or in a seated variation:

You can find more details on the different variations for the shoulder press here.

Compound Exercise #2 – Incline Chest Press

Incline Chest Press foot anchor

Another great compound exercise that will target your upper chest but also the front of your shoulders really well. This is a great exercise to combine shoulder training along with your chest training.

  1. Step on the resistance band with one foot and step forward with the other foot
  2. Grip the band shoulders width apart and make the bandgo over your elbow
  3. Upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
  4. Now push your hands up to full extension
  5. Hold up for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands down

Find more tips to do this exercise in perfect form here.

Variations

You can also do the incline chest press with the resistance band attached to an anchor point like a door, unilateral or also with the band around your back (if you don’t have an anchor point available)

You can find more details on the different variations for the incline chest press here.

Compound Exercise #3 – Upright Row

The upright row targets the front and side parts of your shoulders and, unlike doing it with a bar, it’s a great exercise to do with resistance bands.

  1. Stand on the bands with both feet in a neutral stance
  2. Grab the resistance band from the top close to your upper body
  3. Upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
  4. Now pull the band up until your hands have the height of your shoulders
  5. Hold up for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands down

Find more tips to do this exercise in perfect form here.

Variations

Alternative variations for the upright row are using a close grip or attaching the band to an anchor point.

You can find more details on the different variations for the upright row here.

Isolation Exercise #1 – Front Raises

If you still feel that you need to do an additional isolation exercise for your front shoulders, front raises are the ones to use. Again, if you already do one of the above compound exercises, there’s no real need to add an additional isolation exercise.

  1. Step on the band with both feet
  2. Grip under the band with your hands shoulder-width apart
  3. Upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
  4. Now raise your arms in front of your body while keeping your hands extended all the time to shoulder-height.
  5. Hold up for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands down

Find more tips to do this exercise in perfect form here.

Variations

You cal also use the seated variation of the front raise and by turning your hands you can also give the front or mid shoulder more focus.

You can find more details on the different variations for the front raises here.

Isolation Exercise #2 – Lateral Raises

This is the one isolation exercise for your side shoulders and you can do them really well with a light resistance band.

  1. Stand on the band with a neutral stance
  2. Grip under each side of the resistance band at the side of your body
  3. Upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
  4. Now raise your arms to the side with the back of your hands facing upwards and keeping your arms fully extended all the time
  5. Hold up for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands down

Find more tips to do this exercise in perfect form here.

Variations

You can also do the lateral raises unilateral, seated or with two resistance bands.

You can find more details on the different variations for the lateral raises here.

Important! Isolation Exercise #3 – Shoulder Rotation

External Roation 2 arms

I can only recommend you to also add some rotation exercises to your shoulder workout to prevent injuries.

  1. Upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
  2. Now grab a light resistance band in front of your body with your arms in a 90-degree angle shoulder-width apart
  3. Rotate your arms outwards while keeping your elbows in a fixed position close to your body
  4. Hold up for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands down

Find more tips to do this exercise in perfect form here.

Variations

For external rotation, you have also multiple variation options:

You can find more details on the different variations for external rotation here.

Isolation Exercise #5 – Reverse Fly

This is a great isolation exercise to build the back of your shoulder. As I said, the back part of your shoulder is the more neglected part so doing this isolation exercise should be

  1. Find an anchor point and fix your resistance band there about chest-height
  2. Now step back as much as you need to have a stretch in the band but still being able to get the full range of motion for your reps
  3. Upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
  4. Now extend your arms to the outwards while keeping them fully extended
  5. Hold up for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands down

Find more tips to do this exercise in perfect form here.

Variations

You can also do the reverse fly unilateral or bent-over, in the case you don’t have an anchor point available:

You can find more details on the different variations for the reverse fly here.

Isolation Exercise #6 – Pull Apart

Pull Apart hand position

Pull Aparts are an alternative isolation exercise when you don’t have an anchor point available.

  1. Upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
  2. Grap the band shoulder-width apart in from of your body with extended arms and your palms facing up
  3. Now pull to the outside with your arms extended
  4. Hold up for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands down

Find more tips to do this exercise in perfect form here.

Variations

You can find more details on the different variations for pull-apart here.

Isolation Exercise #7 – Face Pulls

Face Pull right way start-finish

Another great exercise for the back part of your shoulders.

  1. Attach the resistance band with a door anchor or anywhere else above head level
  2. Step back and grab the band in the middle of your body about head-height
  3. Upright position with straight back and head, chest up and tight core
  4. Now pull the band towards your face until your hands are next to your head.
  5. Hold up for about 1 second and then slowly return your hands down

Find more tips to do this exercise in perfect form here.

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