For band training to work, you've got to do these things:
- Maintain Tension: If your goal is to build muscle, maintain constant tension throughout the entire range of motion.
- Minimize Momentum: To get more muscle-building potential out of band work, minimize momentum while maximizing tension.
- Emphasize the Mind-Muscle Connection: You need awareness of which muscles you're emphasizing during each move.
With these in mind, here are three must-try banded exercises for the shoulders and upper back. Use them as part of your warm-up or during your workouts.
To get the most out of pull-aparts, reduce hyperextension in the lower back while keeping your ribs braced down. This will allow you to use the small, often neglected muscles of the upper back more effectively.
How to Do It
- Hold a resistance band and stand with your back against the wall.
- Tilt your pelvis in so your lower back and head are pressed against the wall. Maintain this contact throughout your set.
- With your arms locked, pull the band towards your neck.
- Keeping tension in the band, slowly return your arms forward while squeezing your upper back. Don't let the band snap back in the middle and lose tension.
You can also do these on the floor. Go for 10-15 reps and 3-4 sets.
Snatches aren't limited to the barbell. The muscle snatch, done correctly, is one of the best exercises you can do for your upper back. On paper, it's pretty straightforward: lift the weight from the floor to overhead in one continuous motion.
The banded variation is a great warm-up tool before lifting, particularly prior to the Olympic lifts.
How to Do It
- Stand on one end of the band and face the wall.
- Initiate the movement by pulling your elbows up towards the ceiling.
- Once your elbows reach about shoulder height, externally rotate the shoulders and lock out your arms overhead.
- Return the band back down in the same motion.
Facing the wall encourages you to pull up in one straight line, instead of letting the weight drift away from your body (a critical error when doing any snatch variation).
The tension you get in the delts with this variation is insane. Try adding a pause at the top of the movement followed by a slow, controlled lowering.
How to Do It
- Sit on a bench with a band looped around the bottom.
- Keep your arms locked and raise them to shoulder height while focusing on lifting with the delts.
- Slowly return back to your starting position while maintaining constant tension in the band.