Home Blog Strength Training Technique: Fine-Tuning the Band Pullapart

Strength Training Technique: Fine-Tuning the Band Pullapart

Written on February 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm, by Eric Cressey

The band pullapart is a very commonly prescribed exercise improve upper extremity function and correct bad posture.  However, while it may appear really simple to execute, it’s important to make sure that it’s coached correctly, as it’s easy to develop some bad habits.  Check out today’s video to learn more:

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  • Craig MacDonald

    Awesome advice, I think postural corrections sometimes get out of hand contributing to rhomboid dominance. Really liking the quick and informative videos lately!

  • Tom McDonald

    Hi, great post. How do we prevent the scaps from moving before the socket, should we limit the range until this is attainable ?

  • Yudy

    I found this video very interesting, because I have always heard the cue with any type of rowing variation or face pull, to squeeze shoulder blades as tight as possible. I have also heard the cue with rows where trainers recommend thinking about pulling the elbows together behind your body.

    Based on this band pullapart video, it looks to me like there actually is such a thing as excessive retraction. So it seems like with rows, you would recommend just a comfortable amount of retraction, while focusing on a stable scapula and posterior tilt? Rather than focusing on squeezing as tight as possible? Thanks, and great stuff as always!

  • david brewer

    As usual, great stuff. Thank you!

  • Justin Patterson

    Is that my buddy mike Salerno?

  • Mike

    What do you recommend for a good distance between the hands?

  • chris

    what about being upper trap dominant in this movement? I see a lot of clients who elevate the scapula and almost shrug this movement through end range. We decrease the weight or tension of the band, but how often do you see this problem?

  • Mike

    Great tips, thanks EC! I had no clue that I’ve been doing them badly forever (too much focus on pinching shoulders together). Let there be light…

  • Casey

    Mike Reinold posted a similar exercise except you keep a 90 degree angle at the elbow and states that he wouldn’t recommend trying to keep your forearms parallel to the ground



  • Hi Eric,

    What about hand grip?

    Supinated vs. pronated?



  • The first cue is awesome. Too many people extend the spine to execute the pull-apart, probably because the band is too tight. They should go down to a lighter band and get the motion first. Thanks Eric.

  • good video, What hand postition do you like on these. Supinated or pronated? Also do you prescribe a tempo for these exercises?

  • Both pronated and supinated are good options, guys. I’d say that we use pronated more often, though.

  • Mike,

    Some people may still need a bit of the “pinch” cue if they’re in a lot of anterior tilt/protraction. Different cues for different folks!

  • Mike,

    It depends on the thickness of the band and the strength of the athlete.

  • Mike Sirani, Justin!

  • Chris,

    For those folks, you’ll want to cue a bit of posterior tilt first to get them to neutral. They’ll need a little bit of upper trap to upwardly rotate to 90 degrees of abduction, but you’d just coach them away from using too much. The bigger take-home from this point is to not aggressively pull into retraction/adduction until you’ve used up humeral motion to get to neutral.

  • Tom,

    It’s actually pretty simple: “block” the scaps and then allow the humerus to move.

  • Thanks for teaching. Just got better at what I do.

  • Great tip. I like doing my “scap slides” supine on the foam roller for very similar reasons.

  • Sherlander

    Thanks for this Eric. I hate that I’ve formed bad habits with this movement, but this will help a lot!

  • Doug

    Great points Eric.
    I definitely have been guilty of too much scapular retraction. I will work on this.


  • Thanks Eric some great points and common error’s I agree with the postural loading progression in supine I will then take clients into tall kneeling or 1/2 kneeling pull aparts before standing.

  • Derrick Blanton

    Eric, could you please elaborate on the harmful consequences of retracting the scapula before the humerus goes into hyperextension?

    I know that NOT retracting the scaps while the humerus goes into hyperextension is an anterior glide risk, but I’m having a hard time teasing out the risk of “pre-retracting” the scaps.

    When you have a kyphotic and protracted client, could this be akin to resetting the scaps to neutral before humeral extension?

    Thanks, Eric. DB

  • Jeremy

    I thought i had this one in the bag haha. does the idea of proximal to distal firing not hold true in this case? or is it just the degree to which certain muscles are recruited? either way great post EC, much appreciated.

  • abdi

    Band pull-aparts is still inferior to a good dose of external rotation + rows right ? Because I never had to do pull-aparts in show & go.

  • abdi

    Eric you think no money > pull-aparts thats why there is none in show & go?

  • Caleb

    Eric, can you explain how this differs from cuing somebody to set their scapulae before initiating a cable row or pull-up?

  • Caleb,

    I don’t really cue folks to “set the scapula” before rowing aside from bringing them to neutral. I don’t agree with retracting and then bringing the arm along for the ride “separately.” It’s about synchronization.

  • Abdi,

    I like no money more because it trains true external rotation instead of just horizontal abduction. Still should be coached similarly, though.

  • Derrick,

    If you’re dealing with a client who is kyphotic and protracted, retract away; it won’t really apply to them. However, if you’re starting with someone who is reasonably neutral or actually more retracted/adducted, it can create a timing issue.

  • Jeremy,

    You’re still “firing” proximally; you just are using those peri-scapular muscles to stabilize in a position of some upward rotation, not create movement.

  • Drew

    I have seen people who when pronated, externally rotate the humerus while pulling apart. Is this a faulty substitution? Do you see a pro/con for performing them in external rotation?

  • Good video. Scapula retraction is a main focus for a lot of exercises so its good to have info like this shedding some light on what other areas might be put on the backburner. Always give me something to think about every post. Thanks

  • Caleb

    i missed Derek’s question. your answer to his question pretty much answered my questions. thanks EC for typing out a response regardless!

  • Drew,

    I think it’s fine to do them in ER; we do it on no money drills, right?

  • Yudy,

    Correct on all accounts. Remember that it depends on the starting position. Some people will actually be excessively retracted, while others will be protracted. You cue things based on their resting posture.

  • As always Eric, thanks for the Great advice!

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