This is probably the most important exercise you should do regularly, whether you train with resistance bands only or just incorporate some band exercises. The lifestyle nowadays is often focused around a lot of sitting. Office jobs, cars, dinner table, chilling on a sofa – you get the idea, we sit a lot. The result is that the upper back and rear shoulder muscles get weaker, and this results quite often in bad posture.
Doing pull-aparts on a regular basis will help to build up the muscles in your upper back, which are important to prevent imbalances in your body and improve your posture. Resistance bands are the way to got with this exercise. Since, you should incorporate pull-aparts in your daily routine and do the exercise multiple times throughout the day to get the most benefits. Going to the gym, multiple times per day, is usually not a solution. But having a resistance band with you is quite easy and very low profile.
Implementing heavier and lighter sets in your routine is a good idea as well. To really have the right band for each job, we recommend getting a set of bands with different resistance levels. This way you can really get the right resistance, and you will be able to train your whole body with this one set as well. In case you still don’t have a set, check out our set right here: Resistance Bands Set
This article is the real deal. We start by having a look at the basic exercise form and discuss important dos and don’ts regarding exercise form. Going straight to different methods of adjusting the resistance of a resistance band and looking at interesting pull-aparts variations. The last section will be about some background information on resistance band training and last but not least, we tell you how to implement the pull apart into a workout routine.
How To Do Pull-Aparts The Right Way With Resistance Bands?
Even though the pull apart is rather a lighter isolation exercise, you should still warm up before any resistance training. This will raise your body temperature and prepare the body for the work to come. This way, you will also keep the risk of injury to minimum.
I highly recommend using a light band especially in the beginning and aim for a higher count of repetitions. You will become faster proficient in the movement this way, and you will give your body to get used to a new movement.
One last thing before we jump right into the how-to… Resistance bands generate friction whenever they are stretched, this results in stress with any contact point. To protect your hands from the friction, we highly recommend wearing gloves like these: Workout Gloves.
The 5 steps to a perfect pull apart:
- Grab the band with both hands and get with your body inside the loop
- Keep your arms straight and your hands shoulder width apart in front of your chest
- Pull your hands apart until you point them straight to the sides
- Return slowly to the starting position (resist against the pull of the band)
- Repeat for reps
Common Form Mistakes
⓵ Keep the head stationary – often I see, especially beginners, doing this little head movement. Towards the fully contracted position, the head will move forwards. This is actually a sign of the load being too high. Your body is trying to compensate the lagging strength by involving your upper back muscles to a higher degree. But the pull-apart is an exercise with a focus on the rear delt primarily. So keep your neck in a neutral position aligned with your upper body and stick your chest out throughout the movement. Looking forward or slightly upwards will help keeping the good form. Avoid looking down.
⓶ Tension in the band – Whenever a resistance band is not stretched, there is no resistance your muscles have to work against. Therefore, avoiding slack in the band is a very important point. In the starting position, you will have your hands about shoulder width apart. Make sure to have tension in the band in this position.
⓷ Keep the shoulders externally rotated – when returning to the starting position, don’t let your shoulders rotate inwards. Stick your chest out, rotate your shoulders back and lock them in place throughout the whole movement.
Methods To Adjust The Resistance
One of the greatest benefits of resistance bands is the option of adjusting the resistance of one single band. With weights, you have a fixed resistance, but the resistance of a band is dependent on the stretch. The more you stretch a band, the more pull it will generate. A jump to the next heavier band is often too much and results more often than not in form breakdown. However, we have some methods for you to adjust the resistance without using a heavier band. Check them out:
Adjusting the length of the band – a higher stretch in the starting position will result in a higher resistance throughout the exercise. You can achieve that by grabbing the band with your hands closer together before you get into the starting position where your hands are shoulder width apart.
Doubling the Band – by doubling the band, you can make a very light resistance band very tough. You will make the effective length of the band shorter and basically use two bands at the same time. Use a very light band with this method for pull-aparts.
Slowing it down – Changing the exercise speed is another approach to increasing the intensity. By slowing the speed of the movement down, you will increase the total time under tension of your muscles. This way you can use a lighter band and still make the set harder.
Pausing – Paused reps are great to really get your rear delts firing and at the same time taking care of any slight form mistakes. Simply add a pause in the end position of the movement (where your hand point to the side).
Combining Methods – Don’t forget that you can combine any of these methods to really fine tune the resistance or simply change it up.
Alternative Ways To Pull Apart With Resistance Bands
We have some movement variations of the basic pull apart you have seen so far. Trying different movement patterns is always a good idea to learn something new and give your body and brain something challenging.
Isometric Hold Pull-Aparts – by doing the pull apart like this, you will implement the pausing or the isometric hold in a playful way. Basically, you will perform alternating pull-aparts, but one arm will stay in the fully contracted position while the other arm performs the pull apart.
Incline Pull Apart – in this variation, you will raise your arms about 45-degrees up. This will be the start position of this movement. From here, you pull your hands apart and aim for the band hitting your upper chest in the end position. Return your hands slowly to the position where they started.
Squat hold pull-aparts – I love to combine movements in my workouts. This way I get my body through different positions and activate several muscles groups. By adding the squat hold to the pull apart, it becomes an exercise for the entire body. In addition to the back muscles and the rear delts, your entire lower body will be highly active in this variation, as well as your core muscles.
Is Resistance Band Training Actually Effective?
It is such a pity but still quite common that people assume that using resistance bands is not really effective and challenging. Using weights and machines in a gym is still the main approach to fitness training. But weights and machines are simply tools to generate a load for the muscles to move. And resistance bands got that covered as well. You can use them to build strength, increase muscle mass or burn fat. And all that without a gym membership and the flexibility to work out literally anywhere.
Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Muscles respond to resistance, and they don’t care how it is generated. Very familiar to us is moving a weight against gravity. We know if something is heavy – often by simply looking at it. That is why going to a gym and lifting weights is very intuitive to become stronger. And resistance bands are very lightweight, and it is very easy to assume that therefore using them is inferior to weight training. But resistance bands generate resistance through their elasticity. If you stretch a band, it wants to return to its unstretched state, this is the reason what makes working out with them possible.
If you want to learn more about this topic – read our full article: Why Does Training With Resistance Bands Work
Benefits Of Training With Resistance Bands
A little sneak peek into the advantages resistance band training has over traditional weight or machine work:
- Affordable! A set of resistance bands is a very low investment compared to a gym membership or buying equipment for a home gym.
- Portable! This way you have the flexibility to work out any time and anywhere. This will help you to keep staying motivated and consistent.
- Not bound to gravity! Using weights means that you have to work against gravity. This means that you have to position your body in a way, so you actually work the intended muscles. Resistance bands don’t depend on gravity, therefore you can work out in much more positions.
Check out all the benefits of resistance band in this article: Benefits Of Resistance Band Training
What Muscles Are Used In A Resistance Band Pull Apart?
The focus in this exercise is the rear or posterior deltoid. The shoulder consists of the front, the side and the rear part. The rear deltoid is often legging compared to the other two. Pull-Aparts are great to counter that. Besides the deltoid, the Trapezius and the Teres Minor will be highly active in this exercise. Both muscles are responsible for bringing your entire shoulder back.
Main Working Muscles:
- Focus: Posterior Deltoid
- Teres Minor
- Middle and lower Trapezius
Implementing the pull apart in your daily routine is a great start to a functional and healthy body. The step is training the entire body on a regular basis. And we have great news for you: You can do it with resistance bands only.
Using bands is a great way to minimize the time invest needed for working out, you can actually minimize this time invest even further by using our training app. You will get a workout program tailored to your needs. Simply follow along and make progress. In addition, we included challenges, single workouts and an exercise library in the app.
Find out more here: BIQ Training App