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September 29, 2022
Author: Shelby
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  • Star Exercise of the Week: Shoulder External Rotation with a Resistance Band

If you’re trying to key in on strengthening your rotator cuff, then this exercise is a must! 

Shoulder external rotation is primarily performed by two of the rotator cuff muscles: teres minor and infraspinatus. Another key rotator cuff muscle though, called supraspinatus, has been found to contribute to external rotation, but this is not one of its primary actions. 

Although we’re focusing on the benefits this exercise has on the rotator cuff, it’s important to note that the posterior fibers, or back portion, of the deltoid muscle also play a role in external rotation. 

Now, what you’ll need for this exercise is a door and a resistance band (light, medium, or heavy).

Step 1: Connecting the band to the door:

A small, single band is very convenient to use for this exercise. While you can loop the resistance band around a doorknob, it’s pretty convenient to use a door anchor like the one shown in the above picture. This is the set up available with the ShoulderFit Resistance Exerciser

Step 2: Starting Position:

  • Regardless of which arm you begin with; keep in mind you’ll always be pulling the band away from the door. This can help to remember which direction to face, as your body will be positioned perpendicular to the door itself.      
  • The working arm that is holding the band will be positioned by your side with the elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. Your thumb will be facing in an upward direction for a neutral start. 
  • It’s recommended to keep a small towel tucked between the upper arm and your torso. This can help support and align the shoulder best during the exercise.    

Step 3: Shoulder External Rotation:

  • Squeeze the shoulder blade on the working side inward towards the spine.
  • As you squeeze the shoulder blade, begin to move the forearm away from the door. 
  • Hold for 2 seconds, then return to your starting position.
  • Repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets. Perform on the opposite arm.

Alternative Method:

If you’re looking for a little more efficiency, you can always perform shoulder external rotation on both arms at the same time. A better resistance band for this might be one like what is found with the Posture PT Resistance Exerciser, or you could even use a band from the FitRanger Resistance Kit.

You’ll perform the exercise just as it was described above, except you won’t need to attach the band to the door. Instead, you’ll position both hands towards the middle of the band as your starting position, then externally rotate the arms at the same time.

It might be a little awkward to have towels positioned under both arms if doing them simultaneously, so it’s okay if you don’t end up using them. It won’t make the exercise any less effective. 


That’s shoulder external rotation with a resistance band! Pretty simple and straight forward.

So, the next time you’re looking for an easy way to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles, don’t forget to practice shoulder external rotation!

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About the Author Shelby

Shelby Green is a Florida-licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), currently practicing at St. Anthony’s Resource Center Outpatient Rehabilitation in St. Petersburg, FL. Shelby received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of South Florida, followed by her DPT from the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Shelby has 6 years clinical experience practicing in both the acute care and outpatient rehab settings. Specialties include orthopedics, with additional training in specific manual therapy techniques for pain management, as well as extensive training as a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.

Shelby is a Tampa, FL native, which is where she and her husband currently reside. Their favorite activities include spending time with family and anything outdoors, such as walking, bike riding, and going to the beach.

Medical Disclaimer

This website is intended to provide educational information only and should not be taken as medical advice. The information shared on this website is based on research, but is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. We recommend that you consult your healthcare provider for any specific questions or concerns you may have. The website does not accept responsibility for any harm that may occur from using the information given on this site. Speak to your medical provider about any health issues!

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