The V-shaped torso has long been the holy grail in body building, for both men and women. Atop the V are strong, muscular shoulders, adorning a physique that tapers toward a small waist.
Don’t be that guy or gal who spends all day on bicep curls, but forgets about the shoulders. For a balanced, fit look you’ll want bulk in your traps and deltoids.
Shoulders are a vital component of any workout routine, but there’s one mistake a lot of people make when trying to build bigger shoulders: relying solely on weights for growth.
Dumbbells and barbells might seem like an obvious go-to for targeted muscle-building but their usefulness is limited.
Traditional weights don’t allow you to tap into your true muscle-building potential.
Let’s take a closer look at the principles of optimal muscle building. You’ll learn why weights are holding you back, and how to build bigger shoulders with resistance bands.
Muscle Building 101
Before we jump into the exercises for bigger shoulders, it’ll be important to understand the basics of muscular hypertrophy or muscle growth.
If you want to increase muscle size, there are a few rules you need to follow.
Rule #1: Go Heavy
There’s no getting around it. If you want to pack on serious mass, you need to go heavy.
Traditional weightlifting focuses on two types of training:
- Lift heavy weights, which limits you to lower rep counts within each set
- Lift light weights with higher repetitions and fewer sets.1
In a perfect world, to optimize muscle growth, you would lift heavy AND have a higher rep count.
But weightlifting has an Achilles’ heel. You’re limited to the amount of weight your joints and your weakest range of motion can handle.
Rule #2: Make Sure There Is Constant Tension
It’s crucial to maintain constant tension while you are lifting. Time under tension isn’t just how long it takes you to complete a single set.
Time under tension refers to how long the target muscle is under tension or contracted.
In general, most experts would agree that if you want more mass, 60 seconds per set is a good baseline for optimal time under tension.2
This means the target muscle MUST be under resistance-based tension for 60 seconds.
So, if you must go heavy AND ensure the muscle is under tension for a minute on average, you can start to see where you might run into trouble with weightlifting.
The heavier you go, the shorter your sets, which means achieving that ideal time under tension becomes difficult and time consuming.
This leads us to the final principle of muscle building: achieving muscular failure.
Rule #3: Hit Muscular Failure Every Set
To ensure high levels of hypertrophy, you need to achieve muscular fatigue on each and every set WITHOUT increasing your risk for injury.
Muscular fatigue should happen at the end of that 60-second time under tension guideline.
This means you need to select a weight that allows you to exercise for 60 seconds every set.3
BUT if you do that, you’re already breaking the first rule of going heavy.
If you go too heavy, you won’t be able to last for the full 60 seconds of time under tension and your target muscle won’t reach muscular fatigue.
So, if heavy weights ensure you’ll break the latter two rules of muscle building, and going too light makes you break the first rule of muscle building, what’s the solution?
Resistance bands and variable resistance.
Let’s continue this discussion on optimal muscle building by using the example you’re here to read about: a resistance band workout for building bigger shoulders.
How Do Resistance Bands Build Bigger Shoulders?
To say the shoulder is important to movement would be an understatement.
Think about it: What upper body resistance exercises can you do without the shoulders?
The shoulders are a ball-and-socket joint with a relatively shallow ‘socket’ which offers us the most extensive range of motion in the body. This vulnerable joint also puts us at higher risk of strain and injury due to overloading or overuse.
This is especially true for athletes in baseball, football, and basketball.
So, how can you push your shoulders to true muscular fatigue, tapping into optimal levels of hypertrophy WHILE keeping the risk of injury low?
Resistance bands utilize the principles of variable resistance.
This is when a resistance load changes throughout the exercise’s range of movement.
With resistance bands, the load gets lighter at your weakest range of motion and heavier at your strongest range, in impact-ready positions.
Think about performing a bicep curl with bands. When your arm is extended (weakest range), the resistance is light. As you curl, moving toward your strongest range, the resistance increases.
First, resistance bands get heavier as you concentrically contract, ensuring you are following the first rule of muscle building; you must lift heavy.
Second, bands place a constant tension on the muscle throughout the ENTIRE exercise, ensuring that you reach the optimal time under tension for growth.
Finally, resistance bands allow you to reach true muscular failure for each and every set. With weights, failure comes when joints feel pain or when in your weakest range of motion, you can no longer start the movement.
With bands, failure comes when you can no longer complete the movement in your strongest range. Until then, you’ll have recruited far more muscle fibers than you would have with free weights, stimulating growth hormones and activating increased mass.
Why Free Weights are Not as Effective
Let’s explore more deeply why traditional weights keep you from reaching your true strength potential.
Limited to Your Weakest Range
I hinted at this above but while traditional weights are somewhat effective, they do limit you to the weighted resistance that your weakest range of motion can handle.
Typically, your weakest range is where the muscle is at the end of an eccentric or lowering phase.
Take the biceps curl as an example. When your arm is extended, the eccentric phase, this is your weakest range.
When you have a dumbbell at the top of your shoulder, the concentric and isometric phase, you feel your strongest. You can easily hold more at this point than when you started.
But let’s say you can theoretically hold 75 pounds at the top of a biceps curl. The problem is, you can’t manage to curl from the bottom with anything heavier than a 50-pound dumbbell. So it’s your weakest range that’s limiting you.
Imagine if you tried curling that 75-pound dumbbell anyway. What would happen?
You might flail and squirm. You’d definitely struggle. And there’s a good chance you’d hurt yourself.
THIS is why you are limited with traditional weights.
Resistance bands, on the other hand, rely on the principles of variable resistance, increasing the resistance load at your strongest range and decreasing the load at your weakest range.
Missing Out on Muscle-Building Potential
Let’s continue with the point above. Since you are limited to the amount of weight that your weakest range can tolerate, you’re always missing out on your true muscle-building potential.
If you can lift 75 pounds at your strongest range but you can only manage 50 pounds at your weakest range, you’ll never truly reap the benefits associated with working to failure.
And if you tried, you wouldn’t be able to maintain constant tension. What’s more, you could hurt yourself, pushing your goals back even further.
Injuries in the Weight Room
Injury is a part of the game with traditional weightlifting. At some point, most everyone gets hurt at least once in the weight room.
The most common injury occurs when someone drops a weight on themselves or others. This is usually due to bad form and/or lifting more weight than the individual can handle.
Other injuries associated with weightlifting include muscle strains or tears, herniated disks, fractures, cartilage damage, and joint injuries.
Someone is more likely to injure themselves using free weights than those who use resistance bands. This is for a few reasons.
First, bands allow for high volume exercise without the same level of tissue damage.
Second, bands make it easier to maintain proper form when compared to free weights.
Funny enough, the most common choice of exercise when coming back from an injury is resistance band training. Why? Because it’s easy on the joints.
Resistance Band Exercises for Shoulders
After all this talk of muscle building with bands, it’s finally time to get down to business.
For bigger shoulders, here are the best shoulder workouts with resistance bands. For each exercise, remember to maintain a consistent tempo or lifting speed as follows:
- Concentric (Lifting): 2 to 3 seconds
- Isometric (Pause at Top): 0 seconds
- Eccentric (Lowering): 2 to 3 seconds
Do not worry about a specific repetition count. Perform controlled repetitions until you reach true muscular failure where you cannot physically perform any more repetitions.
If you are using a traditional pair of resistance bands, perform two to three sets twice per week. This workout should complement your current training program.
But if you’re using the X3 Bar, you’ll only need to do one set because of the intense resistance (more on this below). Because there is more shortening of the deltoid in the overhead press position, the overhead press is superior to any other shoulder-centric movement.
The following X3 exercises target the shoulders:
- Overhead Press – Effectively targets all shoulder muscles.
- Upright Row – An alternative exercise for users with shoulder issues.
- Bent Row – Targets the posterior deltoid (primarily works the lats).
- Chest Press – Targets the deltoids (primarily works the chest).
Build Bigger Shoulders with the X3 Bar
Are you tired of wasting your time in the weight room with traditional weights?
Would you be open to trying something new – something that’s proven to work fast?
Want to know how to get wider shoulders without weights?
The X3 Bar isn’t like other ordinary resistance bands. The super-strength bands and Olympic barbell-inspired grip bar let you achieve each of the muscle-building parameters I’ve mentioned above.
- Lift Heavy: With X3 Bar you can lift just as heavy as you would with free-weights, but do even more in your strongest range of motion. Before you think working out with rubber bands is too easy, let me tell you X3’s closed-loop latex bands provide over 600 pounds of resistance.
- Maintain Constant Tension: A steel grounding plate and easy-to-grip bar means you’ll feel safe and secure in every movement, and able to maintain a slow count of 2-3 as you engage and disengage in each movement. 60 seconds under tension won’t be easy, but it’ll be possible.
- Go to Failure with Each Set: Because X3 is so much more effective than lifting weights, going to failure isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ll recruit more muscle, and fatigue more muscle, in your strongest range of motion. For this reason, one set is all it takes. You’ll be thankful that’s the case.
Try the X3 Bar for yourself. You have nothing to lose and only muscle to gain.
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