Shoulder workouts without weights can be done almost anywhere. Whether you’re travelling, at home or even in the gym you’ll have a simple workout that’ll train and improve shoulder health – all without the need for barbells or dumbbells. A simple resistance band is all you will need.
The exercises in these workouts will cover all major shoulder movements. You will train all of the associated muscles and will even go some way towards correcting a good number of exercise-induced shoulder pains and niggles you may have.
Shoulder training is an area where most inexperienced gym users go wrong. The shoulder joints have a larger range of motion than any other joint in the body and are acted upon by 14 muscles. With this in mind, it is easy to see why a ‘typical’ shoulder workout just doesn’t cut it.
This routine probably looks different to workouts you see in fitness magazines, but will be far more effective when it comes to improving shoulder health and performance.
Shoulder Workout Without Weights
When most people think of shoulder training, they think of two movement patterns:
- Presses – dumbbell shoulder presses, military presses push presses
- Raises – lateral raises and front raises
Unfortunately, this leaves a large area of shoulder strength and stability untrained. This is a big problem with shoulder training and leads to various injuries and shoulder muscle imbalances
What happens here is the front of the shoulder and the chest become too strong, tight and over-developed. This pulls the shoulder into an uncomfortable position and can lead to injuries such as shoulder impingement.
How Do We Correct/Avoid This?
To help understand how this shoulder workout can help improve your training while correcting muscle imbalances, I’m going to break the shoulder into three simple to understand areas:
1. Anterior Deltoid (Front of the shoulder)
2. Medial Deltoid (Middle of the shoulder)
3. Posterior Deltoid (Back of the shoulder)
A workout containing only presses and lateral raises will only train the anterior and medial deltoid. However, this leaves the posterior deltoid and upper back weak and unable to support and stabilise the shoulder joint effectively.
The posterior deltoid and upper back play a vital role in stabilising the shoulder, so when left untrained they are unable to do their job of stabilising the shoulder joint. Muscle imbalance and eventually, injury, are common in this scenario.
This process occurs over a long period of time. This means that unbalanced shoulder training often goes unnoticed. However, in the long term, the lack of a balanced shoulder routine can wreak havoc on a person’s ability to train their upper body effectively.
These typical shoulder workout styles often neglect the importance of the posterior deltoid and upper back – both of which are absolutely vital for shoulder health.
Eric Cressey, one of the worlds leading experts on shoulder training recommends external rotations as a way of training these muscles. In addition, world-renown strength coach Bryan Krahn is a big proponent of face pulls – an exercise that also conditions the rear deltoids, rhomboids, and external rotators.
Exercise Set Up
To perform this workout you’ll need a resistance band. Go with a heavy resistance band – if you go too light you’ll quickly outgrow it. In turn, you will struggle to get an effective workout.
Finally, you’ll need somewhere to anchor or stabilise the band for a couple of the exercises – as you’ll see in the video.
The Shoulder Workout Without Weights
• Shoulder Push Ups: 4 x 12
• Band External Rotations: 4 x 20 (each side)
• Band Face Pulls: 4 x 25
• Band Lateral Raises: 4 x 15
• Band Upright Row: 3 x 15
• Face Pull With External Rotation and Press to ‘Y’: 3 x 15
Shoulder Workouts Without Weights Demonstration Video
This shoulder workout is thorough, requires good technique and will be surprisingly difficult for those who are used to only pressing heavy weights all of the time. It’s a series of very specific movements, designed to strengthen a very specific muscle group.
If at first you can’t complete all of the reps in each set of the exercises, don’t worry. Do as much as you can and then build up over time.
Non-Specific Shoulder Training
Don’t forget, many standard exercises (some of which you’re probably already doing) involve the shoulders: Bench pressing, rowing, pull-ups, plank etc. all recruit the shoulders. Even bicep curling involves the shoulders, but most people don’t realise it!
All upper limb movements involve the shoulders, so check your training routine to ensure a balanced exercise programme. If your upper body routine isn’t balanced (including a mixture of pulling and rotation exercises) muscle imbalances will occur, eventually leading to injuries.
Stretch, mix up the variety and don’t neglect external rotations and general pulling movements for shoulder health. They aren’t glamorous exercises, however, they are important.
Compare Prices on Resistance Bands
Why Should You Do Shoulder Workouts without Weights?
Done correctly, shoulder workouts without weights are every bit as effective as barbells and dumbbells for shoulder health. In many cases, the reduced resistance allows you to work with perfect form, rather than ego-driven cheating! In addition, they can be performed almost anywhere using a simple resistance band.
With this shoulder workout you will stretch your chest, strengthen your rear deltoids and upper back, effectively lowering your odds of shoulder problems and injuries. In addition, you’ll likely correct existing back, shoulder and neck problems you may have.
As always, focus on quality exercise and perform the movements well. Healthy and strong shoulders will help you perform at your very best in the gym. You’ll likely avoid many of the niggling injuries affecting others who undertake less balanced routines.
Steve Hoyles is a personal trainer and fitness blogger at www.hoylesfitness.com. He has worked in the industry for over a decade, successfully helping thousands of people improve their health and fitness both in person and online.