Shoulder impingement syndrome and tendonitis of the rotator cuff are the most common intrinsic causes of shoulder pain and disability. The present literature review addresses general concepts on shoulder impingement syndrome as well as progressive resistance training and different physiotherapy interventions for this condition. The aim was to review what exists in the literature regarding progressive resistance training as a therapeutic approach to shoulder impingement syndrome. The review was carried out using the Lilacs, Medline, Pubmed and Web of Knowledge databases searching for studies published between 2000 and 2008. The following keywords were used: resistance exercises, exercises with weight, resistance training, strength training, painful shoulder, shoulder impingement syndrome, exercise and the translations of these terms in Portuguese. Controlled, randomized clinical trials that assessed the use of resistance training for shoulder impingement syndrome were selected. Articles written in English and Portuguese were included. Only one article on the subject was encountered. The authors stress the need for further studies on this topic, as the method has been widely used on a number of other musculoskeletal disorders.