Three Position Band Pull Apart

The three position band pull apart works the upper back and posterior shoulder in a pronated, neutral, and supinated grip.

Want better shoulder mobility? Download Day 1 of our Shoulder Mobility Program for free:

Intro

Band pull aparts help to strengthen the upper back and posterior shoulders. They can also be used as a warm up.

In this article you will learn:

  • The Do’s and Don’ts of band pull aparts
  • How to perform the pull apart with three different positions
  • How many reps/sets to do and when

Typically band pull aparts are done for a few sets of 10-20 reps with one grip.

Since the shoulder is a ball and socket joint, it’s helpful to work on this movement in three different hand/shoulder positions to train this motion with different degrees of rotation in the shoulder joint.

Equipment Needed: Any resistance band with light to medium light resistance.

First up, the Do’s and Don’ts of Band Pull Aparts

The Do’s and Don’ts of Band Pull Aparts

Upper Back Position

shoulder exercises sidelying 1
shoulder exercises sidelying 1

The upper back should remain in neutral during the band pull apart, not round forward.

This applies to all variations of this exercise.

The goal is that the shoulder joint and shoulder blades move freely and naturally on the rib cage during this exercise.

When the hands move forward to get to the starting position, it can be hard to keep the upper back in the same position while the shoulder blades are protracted (sliding forward).

Use this as an opportunity to build body awareness.

Shoulder Blade Position

shoulder exercises sidelying 1
shoulder exercises sidelying 1

This is more subtle than the upper back position, but equally important.

The shoulder blades should not be pinched back and together during this exercise.

There can be a tendency for people to want to ‘lock’ their shoulder blades down.

That is not desirable during this exercise.

The shoulder blades should be allowed to move freely.

Keeping them pinched is unnatural and can lead to excessive neck tightness during this exercise.

Finishing Position

shoulder exercises sidelying 1
shoulder exercises sidelying 1

There’s a tendency for many people to pull the band apart as far as possible in the finishing position.

This isn’t necessarily helpful as we are not trying to go into maximal horizontal abduction with this exercise.

Not every exercise has to be taken to full end range of motion to get the muscular training affect you are looking for.

There is a time and a place for everything.

In the band pull apart, we want to end the rep when the band comes in contact with the chest.

Next up, the three different positions

The Three Positions

Position 1 - Pronated Grip

shoulder exercises sidelying 1
shoulder exercises sidelying 1

The first position we will use in the band pull apart is a pronated grip, or overhand grip.

When in this position, the shoulder is internally rotated.

So what you are doing is horizontally abducting the shoulder in an internally rotated position.

This will bias the upper back muscles and posterior deltoid.

Position 2 - Neutral Grip

shoulder exercises sidelying 1
shoulder exercises sidelying 1

The second grip is a neutral grip.

In this position, the palms of the hands are facing each other.

The shoulder joint isn’t internally or externally rotated, it is neutral.

This works the upper back and more of the middle deltoid.

The grip on position two is the hardest to get correct in the hand with the band.

The band should be exiting your fist between your index and middle finger with your thumb over the top of the band.

Position 3 - Supinated Grip

shoulder exercises sidelying 1
shoulder exercises sidelying 1

The third grip is a supinated grip or underhand grip.

This places the shoulder into external rotation.

This works the upper back muscles and middle delt with maybe a little anterior deltoid.

By working the band pull apart in all three of these positions, you are getting shoulder abduction training in pronation, neutral, and supination to work on all positions.

This method of performing band pull aparts is well-rounded and allows for variety in your training.

Want better shoulder mobility? Download Day 1 of our Shoulder Mobility Program for free:

Reps, Sets, Frequency

The three position band pull apart is used in our Shoulder Mobility Program after working on range of motion to use and map the range of motion.

It’s also used in our Shoulder Strength Program as a prepping tool before heavier exercises.

Depending on the context in which you are using this exercise, the reps, sets, and desired training effect will be different.

If using it as a warm up before bigger lifts, you should try to avoid going to fatigue.

This may mean 3 sets of 10.

If you are using it as a finisher for an upper body workout day, you may want to train it to exhaustion.

This may mean 5 sets of 20 with 45 seconds of rest between reps.

An important part of the band pull apart, despite the use, is tempo.

This exercise should be done with control and not quickly. Each rep should take 3-4 seconds to complete.

Need more Help with Your Shoulders?

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