This intense shoulder routine shows how resistance bands can stimulate muscle growth, strengthen the joints, and transform boring workouts for lifters of all backgrounds.
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Using bands can provide a welcome relief from free weights, but that’s not all; bands can also provide exactly the stimulus your shoulders need to gain size and strength. To test this theory, we brought together two completely different training styles to create one intense shoulder workout. Worlds collide as fitness model David Morin and Bodybuilding.com employee and Strongwoman competitor Rachel Pyron band together for this challenging session. Morin has been using bands in his training for some time and is eager to show what they can do.
“After weight training for many, many years, I’ve experienced weaknesses in joints,” he says. “These areas of opportunity are where I can use a different modality to create strength in those joints.”
Pyron, on the other hand, admits that, like many in her sport, she uses bands primarily for warm-ups.
“I think that’s kind of traditionally how they are used in the Strongman world,” she explains. “Especially when you’re traveling and you don’t have a lot of equipment to warm up with.”
Morin and Pyron take you through a succession of movements to challenge your shoulders and target the secondary muscles around the shoulder joint. If you’ve only used dumbbells and cables, this workout will feel very different. That’s normal, according to Morin.
“You’re going to get that metabolic stimulation in the muscle tissue and a lot of blood flow,” he says. “Which is all going to be great for the shoulder health in general.”
| Single-Arm Band Shoulder Press |
“The differentiation with this type of band resistance versus your typical standard dumbbell or barbell presses is that it’s a unilateral exercise that challenges your stability on the opposing side,” Morin says. “The way that your body has to move and engage to get the full range of motion is going to stimulate the shoulder through a greater range.”
| Upright Row |
Switch bands if you need to on this exercise and remember that you can always increase the resistance by taking a wider stance. Stand on the band and hold the other side with your hands about shoulder-width apart in the start position. You’re aiming for fewer reps than you did on the shoulder press, just enough to get that medial-delt activation.
If you’ve struggled with joint issues on upright rows, switching to bands can be very helpful.
| Band Raise-fly-Row Combo |
This combination exercise is unique to band training, but all the components should feel familiar. Stand on one end of the band with both feet as you pull the other end up in a front raise.
Keeping your arms at approximately shoulder height, pull the band apart in a rear delt fly, engaging the rear delts with the pull and the medial delts by holding the band high. Bring the band back to center, then bend your elbows back to pull the band to your chest. Extend your elbows to push the band back out and reactivate the front delts, then lower to the starting position. This entire sequence counts as one rep. Keep your knees soft to take the pressure off your back, and if you need more resistance, take a wider stance.
| Single-Arm Band Lateral Raise |
No shoulder workout would be complete without the lateral raise, and the goal here is burnout, aka, as many reps as possible.
“Some days you have more reps in you than others,” explains Morin. “With bands, you can safely go past thresholds without injuring yourself and impairing the joints.”
To push yourself on burnout, you can do one of two things: Increase the resistance by widening your stance, or do extra reps.
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