The Most Effective Way to Build Strong and Pain-Free Shoulders

Perform these three banded lateral raise variations to revolutionize your shoulder training and rid those achy shoulders of pain.

Don't let traditional direct shoulder work beat up your joints and leave you hurt in the process. There's a more intelligent way to hammer the shoulder muscles with huge amounts of work that will build big and strong delts while sparing your shoulder joints in the process. Pain-free shoulders for athletes aren't just myths, they are a real necessity. Here's why prioritizing these three banded lateral raise variations will revolutionize your shoulder training and even rid those achy shoulders of pain to create long-term resilience against shoulder injuries.

1. Banded Lateral Raise

Coaching Notes: No shoulder program is complete without a tried and true lateral raise variation. With a band placed under your feet, keep your hands in a palms-down position and raise your arms to just above shoulder height. Squeeze hard and pause for a split second at the top of the movement, then lower slowly under control to increase the time under tension of the movement. Since you are targeting the medial aspect of the deltoid muscle, you want to meet the set-and-rep scheme with the demands of this specific muscular region. Start with 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps with controlled and deliberate form.

RELATED: Build Strong Shoulders With These Deltoid Workouts

2. Banded Front Raise

Coaching Notes: Since the front of the deltoid muscle gets a ton of work during pressing movements like the Bench Press, use the Banded Front Raise as a supplement to pressing. Keeping your palms facing the ground and a band under your feet, raise your arms up above shoulder level, and, again, try to flex as hard as you can at the top of the movement to maximize tension. Move slowly on the way down. Hammer this movement with 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps.

RELATED: The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

3. Banded Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise

Coaching Notes: This may be one of the most powerful Banded Lateral Raise variations due to the postural needs of the shoulders. Simply put, the backs of the shoulders need 2-3 times more volume than the front side, so this Bent-Over Lateral Raise should be performed nearly every day in a training week. Also, since the backs of the shoulders, mainly the posterior delts, are primarily used as postural stabilizers of the shoulders, you need to hit this movement with increased rep schemes and less rest between sets. Start with multiple sets of 15-30 reps and control the movement with great tension and technique.

RELATED: 7 Exercises That Safely Build Shoulder Strength

The Pain-Free Shoulder Superset

Use this superset to finish off any upper-body training day with a bang! These movements are staples of the 12-Week Functional Hypertrophy Training program, which has been battle tested by some of the best strength athletes in the world. Train smart, train hard, and reap the benefits of performance enhancement and injury prevention.

  • 1A. Banded Lateral Raise - 4x12@15
  • 1B. Banded Front Raise - 4x6@15
  • 1C. Banded Bent-Over Rear Delt Raise - 4x20@60

* All exercises read as SETSxREPS@REST


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: SHOULDERS