Shoulder Up: Using Tension Bands for Strength

Kurt Jupin
Exercise 1 (A)

These tension band shoulder exercises are great for any athlete, and essential for those that compete in sports that require hitting, swinging or throwing motions. Every year thousands of athletes undergo shoulder surgeries because they have overused their shoulder joint, usually tearing or straining a variety of shoulder muscles and ligaments. Many of these surgeries can be prevented with the proper “pre-hab”. By doing exercises like these before the problem occurs, or when it is in the early stages, many muscular imbalances can be offset and the problem corrected without surgery. No matter what sports or activies you enjoy, integrating this circuit into your routine will stabilize your shoulders and provide amazing posture by enhancing the stability in your deltoids, rotator cuff and scapulothoracic region (upper back).

Exercises 1, 3, 4 & 5 are performed in a standing position with your foot (or feet, depending on the exercise) as the anchor point. Depending on the size of your tension band (TB) you may want to perform with either one arm or two. That decision is made after testing the length and thickness of the TB in relation to your current strength level.

Exercise 1:
Front raises

  • Place your anchor foot close to the midline of your body. Grip overhand, palms facing behind you while in the start position.

  • Exhale and fire your deltoid(s), exterior shoulder muscles, and raise the TB just past eye level.

  • Take 1-2 seconds when returning to the start position

Exercise 2:

  • Grip the tube overhand with you palms facing each other - thumbs up.

  • Retract your scapula, flexing the muscles in your upper back and shoulders, and pull your arms overhead into a “Y” formation.
  • Take 1-2 seconds when returning to the start position.

Exercise 3:
Shoulder Press

  • Place your anchor foot close to the midline of your body. Grip with palms facing forward and close to a 90 degree bend in your elbow joint with hands above your shoulders.

  • Exhale and press the TB straight up and over your head.

  • Take 1-2 seconds and return to the start position

Exercises 4 & 5:
Over Shoulder External rotation

  • You might be using one arm for this movement, unless you have a lighter resistance TB, as this exercise will be calling on the smaller deeper muscles in your shoulder and upper back.

  • Grip overhand and raise your elbow, bend at 90 degrees, to be even with your shoulder. Make sure you keep you elbow parallel with your shoulder, not out in front, and simply raise your fist and wave to the crowd.

  • Take 1-2 seconds when returning to the start position.

For Over Shoulder Internal Rotation follow all the set up steps above, but start with the TB resting on the backside of before elbow and lower your fist toward the ground while keeping the tube against the backside of your elbow - rotating the shoulder joint in the opposite direction.

The most common error while using a tension band is not resisting on the eccentric portion of the exercise (in most cases when returning back to start). It is fine to go fast during the concentric portion, but remember to resist for a few seconds when returning to the start position.


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