T Nation

Pull-Aparts Hitting Wrong Muscles


#1

Hi all, as the title indicates, I am having some trouble with band pull aparts. I can barely get the band to budge, and when I start to pull it apart, it feels like a primarily FRONT delt stress and some trap stress, with very little activation in the shoulder blades or rear delt

Have any of you had this problem with band pull aparts, and if so, have you found any fix to it? I greatly want to reap the benefits of this exercise to help my shoulders, and also my posture abit, but I simply cannot enjoy this exercise when it hits the OPPOSITE muscles that I am trying to hit!


#2

Only thing I can suggest is use a lighter band. I go to a commercial gym and I use the bands that almost look like rubber tubing with the handles on the ends; I get much more out of those than I would with any other bands (maybe mini bands would work if you have access to them?). I almost always feel them in my rear delts and traps.


#3

What do you mean you can barely get the band to budge? Are you starting off with a light resistance band? I usually go for high reps, around 15-30 reps per set, and treat them as a body building exercise by focusing on muscle contraction. I keep my shoulders down when doing them.


#4

[quote]lift206 wrote:
What do you mean you can barely get the band to budge? Are you starting off with a light resistance band? I usually go for high reps, around 15-30 reps per set, and treat them as a body building exercise by focusing on muscle contraction. I keep my shoulders down when doing them.[/quote]

Well, I do think that I got a band that is too strong, as the other poster noted

It feels like to ‘pull’ the band apart, I have to initiate the pull at the front shoulders and kind of power through it with the front delt and traps – Two muscle groups I’m not trying to recruit much in this movement! I’m really trying to make it into a rear delt/upper back movement, but it just feels like such a hard, front delt kind of movement

I’ve read up on band pull aparts and never heard of this problem before so I hope someone has had this and solved it!


#5

I have always used a rope attachment, and adjusted the weight to ensure full ROM and high rep ranges. I have done them both seated and standing, you may want to give that a try?


#6

Nothing wrong with just doing dumbell rear delt raises either


#7

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:

Nothing wrong with just doing dumbell rear delt raises either[/quote]

I’m kind of disappointed though because after hearing so many people talk about band pull aparts for ‘upright posture’, fixing the upper back, helping the shoulders, etc, basically helping with my computer guy posture, I’ve found they don’t do anything of the sort

The problem, and I believe I MAY have heard this somewhere many years ago, is that they recruit the traps. Because of that, the problem of over-active traps and inhibited upper back, does not get fixed. They also recruit the biceps, so also enforce another bad imbalance of the comp guy posture

Basically forward rolled shoulders / Kyphosis, the theory of strengthening the upper back and this fixing that posture, seems not to be working. I do believe that some weighted exercises and row variations COULD help, but I don’t have access to a gym for now and desperately want to fix my terrible posture, so sadly these exercise bands seem not to be working


#8

??? You basically admitted you are not doing them properly since you got a band thats too tight. So clearly whatever you’re doing isn’t going to help your “computer guy posture”.
Why not start with a lighter band, do them properly and then reevaluate? As far as the traps question the more you look down the more you’re going to hit the upper traps. Keep the chest up and proud and the head back and looking forward and you’ll distribute the load more evenly across the upper back.

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:
I’m kind of disappointed though because after hearing so many people talk about band pull aparts for ‘upright posture’, fixing the upper back, helping the shoulders, etc, basically helping with my computer guy posture, I’ve found they don’t do anything of the sort

The problem, and I believe I MAY have heard this somewhere many years ago, is that they recruit the traps. Because of that, the problem of over-active traps and inhibited upper back, does not get fixed. They also recruit the biceps, so also enforce another bad imbalance of the comp guy posture

Basically forward rolled shoulders / Kyphosis, the theory of strengthening the upper back and this fixing that posture, seems not to be working. I do believe that some weighted exercises and row variations COULD help, but I don’t have access to a gym for now and desperately want to fix my terrible posture, so sadly these exercise bands seem not to be working

[/quote]


#9

[quote]Depression Boy wrote:
??? You basically admitted you are not doing them properly since you got a band thats too tight. So clearly whatever you’re doing isn’t going to help your “computer guy posture”.
Why not start with a lighter band, do them properly and then reevaluate? As far as the traps question the more you look down the more you’re going to hit the upper traps. Keep the chest up and proud and the head back and looking forward and you’ll distribute the load more evenly across the upper back.

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:
I’m kind of disappointed though because after hearing so many people talk about band pull aparts for ‘upright posture’, fixing the upper back, helping the shoulders, etc, basically helping with my computer guy posture, I’ve found they don’t do anything of the sort

The problem, and I believe I MAY have heard this somewhere many years ago, is that they recruit the traps. Because of that, the problem of over-active traps and inhibited upper back, does not get fixed. They also recruit the biceps, so also enforce another bad imbalance of the comp guy posture

Basically forward rolled shoulders / Kyphosis, the theory of strengthening the upper back and this fixing that posture, seems not to be working. I do believe that some weighted exercises and row variations COULD help, but I don’t have access to a gym for now and desperately want to fix my terrible posture, so sadly these exercise bands seem not to be working

[/quote]
[/quote]

I found out that you could use the single band and not necessarily pull with the band ‘doubled’, so it’s not an issue of the band being too heavy for me. It’s that actually pulling the band apart engages the traps, at least for me. It actually engages the traps more than the upper back – This makes it useless for improving the upper back posture

I don’t think it’s the case that it’s about head posture causing more of my traps being involved. I followed DeFranco’s cue’s such as putting the chest down by exhaling, etc

I think there’s two possibilities, either a) the movement itself recruits more traps than upper back,

or b) being kyphotic/bad posture/with over active traps, makes it a movement that recruits too much traps

I think B is a likely scenario


#10

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:

[quote]Depression Boy wrote:
??? You basically admitted you are not doing them properly since you got a band thats too tight. So clearly whatever you’re doing isn’t going to help your “computer guy posture”.
Why not start with a lighter band, do them properly and then reevaluate? As far as the traps question the more you look down the more you’re going to hit the upper traps. Keep the chest up and proud and the head back and looking forward and you’ll distribute the load more evenly across the upper back.

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:
I’m kind of disappointed though because after hearing so many people talk about band pull aparts for ‘upright posture’, fixing the upper back, helping the shoulders, etc, basically helping with my computer guy posture, I’ve found they don’t do anything of the sort

The problem, and I believe I MAY have heard this somewhere many years ago, is that they recruit the traps. Because of that, the problem of over-active traps and inhibited upper back, does not get fixed. They also recruit the biceps, so also enforce another bad imbalance of the comp guy posture

Basically forward rolled shoulders / Kyphosis, the theory of strengthening the upper back and this fixing that posture, seems not to be working. I do believe that some weighted exercises and row variations COULD help, but I don’t have access to a gym for now and desperately want to fix my terrible posture, so sadly these exercise bands seem not to be working

[/quote]
[/quote]

I found out that you could use the single band and not necessarily pull with the band ‘doubled’, so it’s not an issue of the band being too heavy for me. It’s that actually pulling the band apart engages the traps, at least for me. It actually engages the traps more than the upper back – This makes it useless for improving the upper back posture

I don’t think it’s the case that it’s about head posture causing more of my traps being involved. I followed DeFranco’s cue’s such as putting the chest down by exhaling, etc

I think there’s two possibilities, either a) the movement itself recruits more traps than upper back,

or b) being kyphotic/bad posture/with over active traps, makes it a movement that recruits too much traps

I think B is a likely scenario[/quote]

You must actively pull your shoulders down. If you have a habit of shrugging up when doing back work, this is going to be difficult. You will need to lower weight, slow the reps down, and think about it every rep.


#11

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:
I found out that you could use the single band and not necessarily pull with the band ‘doubled’, so it’s not an issue of the band being too heavy for me. It’s that actually pulling the band apart engages the traps, at least for me. It actually engages the traps more than the upper back – This makes it useless for improving the upper back posture

I don’t think it’s the case that it’s about head posture causing more of my traps being involved. I followed DeFranco’s cue’s such as putting the chest down by exhaling, etc

I think there’s two possibilities, either a) the movement itself recruits more traps than upper back,

or b) being kyphotic/bad posture/with over active traps, makes it a movement that recruits too much traps

I think B is a likely scenario[/quote]

IMO, improving daily back posture depends more on an increased awareness of body positioning throughout the day and constantly forcing yourself to a more neutral position. There will always be a tendency to go back to what is considered normal but you have to be aware of that. Accessory movements like band pulls have very little influence on posture compared to big movements like back/front squats where putting yourself in an optimal position for strength is likely optimal for daily posture.


#12

[quote]lift206 wrote:

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:
I found out that you could use the single band and not necessarily pull with the band ‘doubled’, so it’s not an issue of the band being too heavy for me. It’s that actually pulling the band apart engages the traps, at least for me. It actually engages the traps more than the upper back – This makes it useless for improving the upper back posture

I don’t think it’s the case that it’s about head posture causing more of my traps being involved. I followed DeFranco’s cue’s such as putting the chest down by exhaling, etc

I think there’s two possibilities, either a) the movement itself recruits more traps than upper back,

or b) being kyphotic/bad posture/with over active traps, makes it a movement that recruits too much traps

I think B is a likely scenario[/quote]

IMO, improving daily back posture depends more on an increased awareness of body positioning throughout the day and constantly forcing yourself to a more neutral position. There will always be a tendency to go back to what is considered normal but you have to be aware of that. Accessory movements like band pulls have very little influence on posture compared to big movements like back/front squats where putting yourself in an optimal position for strength is likely optimal for daily posture.[/quote]

I think I disagree. That’s why I’m trying to bump an older post in another thread that kind of talks about this issue – The OP went on a long posture fixing routine to fix his ATP and other problems, only to find that the only time he had good posture was by FORCING himself into it

I think that’s not a fix. I also have been there, and I think that kind of ‘forced posture’ feels different, is draining, and looks different than good posture

Right now the only group of people who I’ve repeatedly heard and seen with good posture, is Olympic Lifters, to the point where it’s virtually impossible to see one in a ATP/forward rolled shoulder position. That gives me SOME hope, but I’ve been trying to fix my hunched, forward head/forward shoulder posture now for 6 years and have seen bad results : Basically mild improvement --> reset, --> mild improvement --> reset. Life problems of course, such as periods without a gym, have made it much worse


#13

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:

[quote]lift206 wrote:

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:
I found out that you could use the single band and not necessarily pull with the band ‘doubled’, so it’s not an issue of the band being too heavy for me. It’s that actually pulling the band apart engages the traps, at least for me. It actually engages the traps more than the upper back – This makes it useless for improving the upper back posture

I don’t think it’s the case that it’s about head posture causing more of my traps being involved. I followed DeFranco’s cue’s such as putting the chest down by exhaling, etc

I think there’s two possibilities, either a) the movement itself recruits more traps than upper back,

or b) being kyphotic/bad posture/with over active traps, makes it a movement that recruits too much traps

I think B is a likely scenario[/quote]

IMO, improving daily back posture depends more on an increased awareness of body positioning throughout the day and constantly forcing yourself to a more neutral position. There will always be a tendency to go back to what is considered normal but you have to be aware of that. Accessory movements like band pulls have very little influence on posture compared to big movements like back/front squats where putting yourself in an optimal position for strength is likely optimal for daily posture.[/quote]

I think I disagree. That’s why I’m trying to bump an older post in another thread that kind of talks about this issue – The OP went on a long posture fixing routine to fix his ATP and other problems, only to find that the only time he had good posture was by FORCING himself into it

I think that’s not a fix. I also have been there, and I think that kind of ‘forced posture’ feels different, is draining, and looks different than good posture

Right now the only group of people who I’ve repeatedly heard and seen with good posture, is Olympic Lifters, to the point where it’s virtually impossible to see one in a ATP/forward rolled shoulder position. That gives me SOME hope, but I’ve been trying to fix my hunched, forward head/forward shoulder posture now for 6 years and have seen bad results : Basically mild improvement --> reset, --> mild improvement --> reset. Life problems of course, such as periods without a gym, have made it much worse

[/quote]

Yep re Olympic lifter -heavy back work should be your first port of call -Full range pullups and heavy lat pull down for 5x5/10 x3, kroc rows etc

ART therapy on your pecs and front delts can also help


#14

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:

[quote]lift206 wrote:

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:
I found out that you could use the single band and not necessarily pull with the band ‘doubled’, so it’s not an issue of the band being too heavy for me. It’s that actually pulling the band apart engages the traps, at least for me. It actually engages the traps more than the upper back – This makes it useless for improving the upper back posture

I don’t think it’s the case that it’s about head posture causing more of my traps being involved. I followed DeFranco’s cue’s such as putting the chest down by exhaling, etc

I think there’s two possibilities, either a) the movement itself recruits more traps than upper back,

or b) being kyphotic/bad posture/with over active traps, makes it a movement that recruits too much traps

I think B is a likely scenario[/quote]

IMO, improving daily back posture depends more on an increased awareness of body positioning throughout the day and constantly forcing yourself to a more neutral position. There will always be a tendency to go back to what is considered normal but you have to be aware of that. Accessory movements like band pulls have very little influence on posture compared to big movements like back/front squats where putting yourself in an optimal position for strength is likely optimal for daily posture.[/quote]

I think I disagree. That’s why I’m trying to bump an older post in another thread that kind of talks about this issue – The OP went on a long posture fixing routine to fix his ATP and other problems, only to find that the only time he had good posture was by FORCING himself into it

I think that’s not a fix. I also have been there, and I think that kind of ‘forced posture’ feels different, is draining, and looks different than good posture

Right now the only group of people who I’ve repeatedly heard and seen with good posture, is Olympic Lifters, to the point where it’s virtually impossible to see one in a ATP/forward rolled shoulder position. That gives me SOME hope, but I’ve been trying to fix my hunched, forward head/forward shoulder posture now for 6 years and have seen bad results : Basically mild improvement --> reset, --> mild improvement --> reset. Life problems of course, such as periods without a gym, have made it much worse

[/quote]

Yep re Olympic lifter -heavy back work should be your first port of call -Full range pullups and heavy lat pull down for 5x5/10 x3, kroc rows etc

ART therapy on your pecs and front delts can also help [/quote]

I’m not sure about what type of back training to do, TBH. In the past when I trained back heavily, I felt that only one lift really had a posture fixing effect, and it was an isolation kind of exercise that was similar to Dan John’s ‘Batwings’

I think that training a lot of back can still involve the traps heavily and lead to the problem with most of the other ‘fixes’, the muscle imbalances not working because the dominant muscle(traps) still get recruited

I’m not sure what it is about Olympic Lifters that give them the perfect posture BTW – it’s something I’m thinking about and hopefully can get a solution to(so I can try to implement it)


#15

[quote]nobodyreal wrote:
I’m not sure about what type of back training to do, TBH. In the past when I trained back heavily, I felt that only one lift really had a posture fixing effect, and it was an isolation kind of exercise that was similar to Dan John’s ‘Batwings’

I think that training a lot of back can still involve the traps heavily and lead to the problem with most of the other ‘fixes’, the muscle imbalances not working because the dominant muscle(traps) still get recruited

I’m not sure what it is about Olympic Lifters that give them the perfect posture BTW – it’s something I’m thinking about and hopefully can get a solution to(so I can try to implement it)
[/quote]

You actually agreed with the last part of my comment. I stated that big movements like back/front squats done correctly can help with posture. Oly lifters do a ton of both. What I meant was that learning how to hold a neutral spine prevents injury and can be translated to daily posture when you know what that position feels like. In addition to squatting, Oly lifters do snatches, cleans, jerk etc. which all require a stable and erect torso position. These lifts build the upper back muscles which help resist thoracic flexion. I only suggested squatting because it’s not as technical as the other lifts and doing both provides balance.

Once you build these muscles through training, you still need to remind yourself what correct posture is because you naturally go back to “normal” posture during daily routine. IMO, having bigger/stronger muscles will only help with the transition since it won’t require as much effort to hold the better position. Once those muscles have enough endurance strength, it will no longer be draining.


#16

I want to bump this real quick to say – I am still having the strange problem of Band Pull Aparts primarily stimulating the front delt, to the point where after doing band pull aparts, I actually feel MORE hunched and NEVER feel any kind of activity in my upper back area or rear delts


#17

I had this issue before as well. What I did was I moved down to a lighter band. As well, I focused on the middle of the band hitting below my neck, around my upper chest region. For myself, I found that this was really activating the rear delt when focusing on squeezing the shoulder blades together at the end of each rep.

Hope this helps!


#18

How are you programming the pull-aparts? I typically use a micro mini or a mini band and do 30-50 a set. It shouldn’t be difficult at all to pull the band apart. It should treated as a prehab / rehab type movement not a training movement from what I’ve read.