Archer Pulls or Archer Rows are great for beginners and for warming up your back for some heavier exercises. They are very easy to set up and the movement will hit your entire back, your biceps as well as your core muscles. Still they are not a substitution for heavier compound back exercises like rows and lat pulldowns.
To get an overview about our favorite back exercises check out: The Best Back Exercises With Resistance Bands
Or simply install our BIQ Workout App on your mobile and browse through a library of hundreds of exercises with resistance bands. Get more information right here: BIQ Workout App
To get started you will be needing a resistance band and nothing else. You will be using only your body and the resistance band. Make sure to get a set of resistance bands form the start to really set yourself up for effective workouts. In case you still don’t have a set, check out our set right here: BIQ Resistance Bands Set
In this article you will get a step-by-step guide of how to perform archer pulls correctly as well as which common mistakes to avoid while doing this movement. You will learn how to adjust the resistance of a given resistance band, what archer pull variations exist and what muscles are worked in this exercise. In the last section we answer whether resistance band training is effective and how to incorporate archer rows into your workout.
How To Do Archer Pulls/Rows The Right Way With Resistance Bands?
Before starting to do some heavy resistance training always…ALWAYS warm up. This will keep your joints and muscles healthy in the long run and prevent unnecessary injuries.
You will only need a resistance band and your body to perform this exercise, but we highly recommend wearing gloves. When the band is stretching and contracting there is friction between the band and any contact point. Gloves will prevent you feeling this friction on your skin.
Follow these 5 steps to get perfect Archer Pull/Row:
- Grab one end of the band with your hand – make sure that you have it firmly in your hand and straighten the arm in front of you
- With your other hand grab the band quite close to the hand that is holding the band – you want to have minimal slack to no slack in the starting position (Choosing a light band is a great idea!)
- Now pull the band backwards until you can’t move your elbow further back (In the end position your shoulders and elbows should be aligned in a single line)
- Hold for a second and return slowly to the starting position
- Repeat for reps (Don’t forget the other side!)
Common Form Mistakes
⓵ Externally Rotated Rear Shoulder! – to really get your back muscles working and avoiding stress on your rotator cuff make sure to rotate your rear shoulder externally. Raising your chest consciously will help with that as well as actively pushing your shoulder down.
⓶ Straight Front Arm! – Keeping your front arm straight will give you stability, and you will be able to handle more reps or even a heavier resistance band.
⓷ Control Each Repetition! – Simply letting the band snap back will hurt you in two ways. First: You will have less total time under tension and therefore slower and less progression. Second: You increase your chance to get injured. So really focus on controlling the band throughout the whole movement.
Avoid these mistakes to really get a perfect Archer Pull.
There are even more mistakes you should be avoiding when working out with resistance bands. To get your resistance band training to the next level check out our article on The Worst Mistakes You Can Do When Training With Resistance Bands
How To Adjust The Resistance
This section will help you to get your training with resistance bands to the next level. A resistance band does not have a fixed resistance like a dumbbell would have. Each resistance bands has a range. To fully use this range is the key to effective training with bands. Always use the full potential of a given resistance band before jumping to the next heavier one. This will make sure that you make small progression steps without form breakdown and increased chance of injury.
The best methods to adjust the resistance for archer pulls/rows are:
Adjust the length of the band – This is one is straight forward. You will be shortening the band by wrapping it around one of your hands. The shorter a resistance band is the more resistance you will have to work against in an exercise.
Combine bands – We always recommend getting a full set of resistance bands. By having a set you will have the possibility to combine 2 or more bands and get the needed resistance for the exercise. I like to add the lightest band to my exercise and see how well it works. If it is to heavy you can simply let go of the second band and finish the set with the rest.
Double the Band – Due to linear variable resistance characteristic of bands doubling up a band does not equal to twice the resistance. It is actually more than that. That’s why always start with a very light band, double it and see how well you get along.
Slow it down – You can increase the intensity of an exercise by adding resistance to a set. But you can also leave the resistance the same and simply slow down your reps. This will result in a higher total time under tension and therefore a more intense set.
Combine Methods – This one often gets forgotten. You can combine methods to get the right resistance for your goals. Add a light band and make them shorter or slow down your reps with a doubled up band. Unlimited possibilities.
Alternative Ways To Do Archer Pulls/Rows With Resistance Bands
For each exercise there are variations out there. They are great to change it up and keep it interesting. Sometimes they are harder or have a slightly different muscles focus. For archer pulls we have the following variations for you!
Alternating Archer Pulls/Rows – This is almost a hybrid between archer pulls and standing rows. There are several great things about this variation. For starters, you can use this set up as your main compound exercise for your back. Due to the set-up you can use heavier bands, and it’s not a warm-up exercise anymore. You will also be more stable because your front arm won’t have to hold the tension of the band anymore – the door anchor will be doing that this time.
And you will be able to change the resistance in the middle of the set by simply taking a step back – to increase the resistance – or forward to make it lighter. Loving it.
How to do it:
- Attach the band to a door anchor at around chest level
- Grab the band with both hands and step back until there is no slack in the band, and you feel it pulling at your arms
- Now pull back with one arm while also rotating your shoulders (in the full contracted position your shoulders and elbows should be aligned)
- Hold for 1 second and return slowly to the starting position
- Repeat for reps
You can either do this exercise alternating or first finish all reps with one side before taking care of the other side.
Angled Archer Pulls/Rows – The best thing about archer pulls is that you can change the angle of your holding arm relative to your upper body and therefore change the focus of which back muscle you put a focus on.
- Point your forward arm straight ahead: you will simulate a row and have a focus on the Traps and Lats
- Point your forward arm up: you will simulate a lat pulldown and target your Lats more
- Point your forward arm downwards: you will simulate an upright row with a focus on shoulders and upper traps.
Can You Train Your Back Effectively With Resistance Bands?
Lots of people have the opinion about resistance bands that they are only good for warming up and some mobility work. Maybe an addition to weight training at best. This is nonsense. Everyone who tried working out with heavy bands knows how hard it is to move against the tension of the band. So don’t be fooled you can reach your fitness goals very much by using resistance bands to work out.
When it comes to effective back training – archer pulls won’t be enough. Archer pulls are great for warming up or as a finisher back exercise at the end of your training. The base of your back workout should consist of rows and pulldowns. We will cover more of this topic further below.
So the answer to the question is YES you can build a great back with resistance bands but not with archer pulls alone.
Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
This is quite simple. Our bodies don’t know the difference between resistance from weights+gravity and resistance from the tension of a resistance band. The only thing our body knows is resistance. And if your muscles have to work against that resistance and the intensity is high enough they will grow, and you will build strength.
More on this topic: Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Benefits Of Training With Resistance Bands
Resistance band have heaps of benefits. Some of them are:
- No Cheating! Using momentum and cheating your reps is a common mistake people do when working out with weights. Resistance bands prevent using momentum.
- Fewer Injuries! Working out with resistance bands puts less stress on your joints compared to weights.
- Mobile! Bands are small, they are light and flexible. They will fit in any suitcase or backpack. So no more excuses not to work out on business trips and holidays.
- Affordable! Band are very cheap compared to a gym membership or equipment you need to get for a home gym.
Check out all the benefits of resistance band in this article: Benefits Of Resistance Band Training
What Muscles Are Used In A Resistance Band Archer Pull/Row
In any pulling motion with your arms your back muscles will do most of the work. The biggest back muscles are the Traps and the Lats. You will be using both. The biceps and the posterior delts will help out in the movement. Due to the rotation of your upper body with each rep your core will be active throughout the set.
Main Working Muscles:
- Latissimus Dorsi
Secondary Muscles Working:
- Biceps brachii
- Posterior Deltoids
- Core muscles (not in the muscle map)
Like mentioned before archer pulls/rows are not the best choice to have as your main back exercise. But what is more important than any single exercise choice is having a structured and effective workout program to follow. Only this will make sure that you actually make progress and reach your goals.
It can be a hustle to design a good workout program by yourself – especially if you are a beginner. But no worries we did that for you. All the work is already done – at least when it comes to workout design 😉 – all you have to do is select your goal, what equipment you have, and you can start right away. We will show what exercise, how many reps and sets to do – all you have to do is follow along!
In our BIQ Training App we have several workout routines you can follow along. You can customize your routines depending on your goals. With this app you will also have a library of all resistance band exercises with a step by step description and a how-to video in your pocket – available at all times. Find out more here: BIQ Training App