Posted March 11, 2019

3 Band Shoulder Stability Drills You Probably Haven’t Tried, but Should

Shoulder stability drills tend to fall into a couple categories: training concentric action of the shoulder with stuff like external rotations for the rotator cuff, or dynamic stabilization drills like using the Shake Weight.


In the first example, the goal is to create strength through the muscles so that they’re better at resisting positional change. In the second the goal is to get neural firing rates more responsive to changes in force application to the tissues so that the muscles controlling glenohumeral and scapulothoracic positioning and motion can keep the place together while enduring some challenging stressors.


With this idea, we can put together some exercises that use bands to try to do some specific things:


  1. Try to pull the joint positions away from the stable starting points while trying to resist that change, and
  2. Trying to create motion against resistance trying to perturb that plane of action.


Bands work really well for this as they can have adjustable tension based on stretch and resistance, can be used at any angle, and at any speed you desire. With that said, here’s a few drills you can incorporate into your training to promote some shoulder stability, whether at the gym or on the road, or even on the field before a game.


  1. Band Stabilization Diagonal Pulls




This is a great stabilization drill for maintaining an overhead position, specifically while holding on to some scapular upward rotation. You can adjust the elevated arm and hand position to any height you can achieve, depending on shoulder mobility, and work on controlling your positioning against any band tension you can manage.


The key features to remember with this is that the hand overhead should be like it’s locked in stone, no movement should occur when the band tension pulls it forward. That’s a massive challenge to anyone who may be in need of more scapular stability in this position, but may not be able to manage traditional weight loading in that range of motion.


  1. Band 90 90 Shoulder Press Stabilization




This position is a little bit more challenging specifically for the rotator cuff versus scapular stabilizers, and due to the lever arm acting on the rotator cuff, may be harder to maintain positioning against the band tension compared to the diagonal pull, but it’s still a solid option for anyone looking to maintain some shoulder control.


Some big coaching considerations on this one are to consider where the rib positioning winds up when setting up and pressing the weight, trying to keep the ribs flat to prevent arching through secondary motion to get stabilization for the shoulder elsewhere, and also ensuring the hand doesn’t start drifting forward as the shoulder fatigues.


The press can be at any angle you choose, and you just have to have the band attached to something that’s not going to fall over during the press.



  1. Band horizontal overhead press




This video brings in 2 major components of resistance. First, the band resistance makes the shoulders work to continuously press out into it, and then using gravitational loading in a non-axial manner makes pressing the hands out away from the body harder as you go further into the movement. The overhead movement relies more on scapular motion in terms of true rotation with less of a potential anterior tilt, at least as long as you can manage to keep your hands from dropping during the movement. The hip hinged position also gives some stretched loading to the posterior chain, which is always a nice benefit during shoulder work.



These are simple, easy and effective drills to help improve shoulder stability, and can be done pretty much anywhere. Give them a try and see what you think. Use a light band and slower speed to start, and ramp it up as you are able to maintain positioning and not fatigue out.


If you’re interested in learning more drills for shoulder stability, I have a bunch of recommendations.

Tony Gentilcore does a sweet deep dive into overhead mobility, which has a massive drive off scapular stability, in The Complete Trainers Toolbox.

He and I also cover an entire day of shoulders in our video series The Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

We even have some live workshops with more advanced content in Even More Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint with events coming up in Philadelphia, Edmonton, and Australia.