Band Pull Aparts - Do's and Don'ts

I prescribe clients a lot of upper back work- but one common theme I see in younger or newer clients is their lack of intention with upper back work.

I use an EliteFTS red mini band for most of my upper back work. I use similar set/rep schemes for clients and they come back with 'those were easy.' It didn't take long for me to realize, even without seeing them do this movement, that they were rushing through these.

The biggest mistakes with band pull aparts-

Going too fast.

Bad anatomical position - upper traps involved or triceps involved.

Going too heavy with a band or cable.

The fix- Intention.

First, slow down. Do these for a tempo if need be - 0:2:4 meaning pull apart (0), hold for 2 seconds with arms bent but extended, return to the start slowly, taking 4 seconds (eccentric).

Second, use a slight bend in your arms, squeeze your pinkies, externally rotate your hands a bit, and initiate the pull of the band with your rear delts. If you can't, have someone poke you to get your mind connected to those muscles. If you can't at that point, the band might be a little too strong for you- try a single arm pull apart or a lighter band (EliteFTS micro mini).

Third, don't stress about going heavy on these. I use a band, cable weight, or position that doesn't start to burn until 15-20 reps in. And that's the beginning. Keep going!! Light weight and at least 100 reps total on these.

Most of that is summarized in this video:


What I typically do:

Band pull aparts - 100 reps each week

Single arm band pull aparts - 100 reps each week

Face pulls - 100 reps each week


What I did 10 years ago...multiply that by 2-3.



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