Band pull apart are an effective way to activate the posterior shoulder and upper back. It’s also a great way to open the chest, position the shoulders correctly, and stabilize them for your training sessions.
This is a quick-hitting series using two variations that gets the circulation going for the upper half. It can be done in a short amount of time and yield effective changes to your physiology.
Begin by pushing shoulder joint to the back of the capsule
Envision making a proud chest while doing this and engaging your lat (area under the armpit)
Keep shoulders down and away from your ears
Make sure your scapula isn’t winging by following the above, especially pushing the chest forward and keeping a wide upper back.
Grip the band in a way my moving your wrist to where you feel a stretch from the thumb side into the forearm
This isn’t a pinching that closes off the rhomboids (muscles in mid-back near your spine).
It’s about keeping length in the upper back while engaging it.
Exercise #1: Elbows Tight
Follow the above
Keeping elbows tight to your hips/side pull the band apart by engaging the posterior shoulder
This is one is mechanically more applicable to BJJ, as you almost always grapple with arms in tight to your sides to exhibit strength and stability
Exercise #2: Elbows Straightened
Same as universal
Keeping locked elbows pull the band apart by engaging the posterior shoulder
Some Tips on Utilizing This Movement
I advocate warming the upper body after you’ve gotten some light movement to your lower half. Even if you don’t have any “problems” with your lower half, doing this first in some way will help increase circulation for your upper body.
Also, pairing it with the snow angel arc series I’ve covered here is a tremendous way to activate your shoulders for the rigors of training!
Final Considerations on Shoulder Warm-up
Shoulder health is not to be taken lightly in the grappling arts. The sport itself requires a lot of compression — it’s essentially the whole premise in keeping an opponent on the ground. With that in mind, activating our joints properly creates the foundation to hold our bodies with integrity on and off the mats.
I cover more performance training tidbits with my ebook “The Foundations of Movement Autonomy, Vitality, and Performance” that will help you prepare, recover, and perform better on the mats!
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