band pull apart

A Better Way to Do the Band Pull Apart

by Dr. Michael MashUpdated

The band pull apart is one of the most effective accessory exercises for overall shoulder health and stability. However, even it can be overused.

With the majority of barbell pressing work being performed in a position of shoulder internal rotation, we need an exercise that can effectively promote some balance. It turns out that this can be done by optimizing the band pull apart!

The Traditional Band Pull Apart

The traditional band pull apart exercise is now part of the mainstream fitness population, and rightly so. With the tremendous focus on barbell pressing performed, I'm thankful that people are intelligently programming in more scapular retraction work.

The traditional resistance band pull apart exercise is performed in a position of shoulder internal rotation. While there's nothing inherently wrong with this, this is also the position that all of your barbell pressing work is completed in. In order to optimize the band pull apart and promote shoulder balance, you can perform it in a position of shoulder EXTERNAL rotation!

Turn Your Palms Up

By externally rotating the shoulders and supinating the forearms (turning the palms up) you can effectively emphasize the rotator cuff muscular MORE than if you performed this exercise in pronation (palms down). Additionally, I've found that I get a better peak contraction during the squeezing/retraction phase with this version as well.

External rotation essentially "opens up" the shoulder joint, making this a PERFECT exercise for those who typically get that "pinchy" sensation in the front of the shoulder during lifting.

Increase Scapular Motion for Further Optimization

To further increase the effectiveness of the supinated band pull apart, try and perform these from a high to low position. Typically, with the standard band pull apart, you are pulling in a straight horizontal plane. This heavily focuses on the scapular motions of protraction and retraction.

By performing from a position starting high above the head, and pulling to the lower chest, you now add the scapular components of upward and downward rotation. This further enhances both scapular mobility and stability, things that any barbell athlete could use!

Overall, the traditional band pull apart is a fantastic exercise. There's nothing inherently wrong with it, and quite frankly, I'm happy if you're just utilizing this in your program!

However, for those who are predisposed to shoulder pain, give the palms up version a try, and make sure you pull it from high to low to maximize the effects!

Related Posts
Stop Stretching Your Tight Hip Flexors
hip flexor featured image

Tight hip flexors can be an annoying sensation for many lifters. From interfering with squats and deadlifts, to limiting comfort Read more

Stop Haphazardly Doing Mobility Work

The push for mobility work in the fitness and rehabilitation world today is strong. From people who are relentless searching Read more

Top 5 Squat Mobility Drills

People frequently say they are not "mobile" enough to squat to depth. As a result, they stop squatting and begin Read more

Load the Squat to Increase Mobility
squat big 3

We've all heard it: "Don't add strength to dysfunction." While this is a very important concept, it can be taken Read more