3 Band Exercises for a Bigger Back and Healthier Shoulders

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Want to improve your posture, strengthen your shoulder stabilizer muscles, and hit new squat, bench, and deadlift PRs? Then you need to be training the upper back frequently with a ton of volume.

Habits in the gym (such as performing pressing exercises much more than pulling) and in life (such as sitting behind a desk for 8 hours a day) have extremely detrimental effects on our body's health and appearance, and put us at risk for serious injury. Here are 3 exercises using only a resistance band that can be used on a daily basis to remedy those issues and develop a bigger back and healthier shoulders.

Band Pull Apart

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Grab a light band with an overhand grip at about shoulder width.
  2. Raise your arms parallel to the ground and fully extend your elbows.
  3. Pull the band apart until it touches your chest, while "squeezing" your upper back and "pinching" your shoulder blades.

Tips:

  1. Place your hands further apart to make the movement easier and closer together (or use a thicker band) to make it harder.
  2. Keep your palms facing down. Don't rotate your wrists up or down.
  3. Keep a neutral spine. Don't "arch" to make a shorter range of motion.

Band Face Pull

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Wrap a light band around a steady structure (pole, power rack, etc.) at about shoulder/chin height.
  2. Step away from the structure so that there is some tension on the band and get into an athletic position (knees slightly bent, core tight).
  3. Pull the band to your face while driving your elbows back and "pinching" your shoulder blades.

Tips:

  1. Place your hands closer together to make the movement easier and further apart (or use a thicker band or cable machine) to make it harder.
  2. Keep your elbows high and wide.
  3. Keep your eyes straight ahead, not at the ceiling or the floor.

Band Straight Arm Pulldown

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Wrap a light band around a steady structure (pull up bar, etc.) overhead.
  2. Step away from the structure so that there is some tension on the band and get into an athletic position (knees slightly bent, core tight).
  3. With your arms parallel to the ground and elbows fully extended, pull the band down toward your hips

Tips:

  1. Keeps your core tight and hips back throughout the movement.
  2. "Squeeze" your lats at the bottom of every rep.
  3. Control the range of motion so that you don't have to "swing" the band downward.

Programming

As previously mentioned, these exercises are safe to use on a daily basis. Here are a few of my recommendations:

  1. During your warm-up (3 sets of 20 reps each in a circuit).
  2. Between exercises (10-20 reps of one exercise between sets of a main lift).
  3. Anytime throughout the day- especially if you have a desk job (100 reps total of each exercise per day will dramatically improve posture and strengthen the upper back).