In his article "Are Bands a Bad Idea for Rotator Cuff Strengthening?", Jordan Shallow discusses the pitfalls of using bands to strengthen rotator cuff muscles. Many gravitate towards bands as part of their strength training warm-up. However, as Jordan mentions, every muscle has a strength curve that determines where a muscle exerts the most and least amount of force throughout its range of motion. Essentially, most muscles are weak when shortened and weak when lengthened.
The sweet spot is in the middle. This is the point that the muscle is strongest. With this in mind, it’s important to note the resistance profile of bands in relation to the rotator cuff muscles. Bands tend to exert more force as the muscle shortens in the shoulder. Given what we know about the strength curve of these muscles, we can conclude that this probably isn’t ideal for those who are looking to build strength.
Jordan confirms this, saying that you don’t want resistance to increase at the point where a muscle gets weaker. The solution? Try using a cable setup so you can have a uniform distribution of force throughout your motion. This way, you build muscles of stability around the shoulder. Rather than forcing your muscles to do more work at their weakest point, you optimize their performance by building muscle at their strongest point.
So next time you’re warming up for your strength training session, reconsider using bands. Try using a cable setup instead and see how it affects your progress.