Strength band workout series part 2 - Power Systems

Strength Band Pull Apart + Scapular Retraction Super Set

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This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. To see Part 1, click here.

Back with Nick Tumminello, seasoned author and the “trainer of trainers”, demonstrating another great Strength Band exercise. This time, Nick breaks down a super set exercise to strengthen and activate the shoulders.  

Strength Band Pull apart + Scapular Retraction super set

Many people are already familiar with Strength Band pull-aparts. But not many are familiar with a Strength Band scapular retractions, which are a unique exercise I designed that are great to superset with pull-aparts. That means you perform strength band pull-aparts followed immediately by performing Strength Band scapular retractions with resting between exercises.

The Strength Band pull-aparts are great for mainly hitting the rear-delts, while the strength band scapular retraction are more targeted at the rhomboids and middle-traps. So, the combination of two exercises really hits the posterior shoulder and mid-back muscles, and serves as either a great component to a shoulder warm-up or to use at towards the end of a workout as a shoulder burnout.

How to Perform the Exercises

When performing strength band pull-aparts, hold one or two layers of with both hands just outside shoulder-width, keeping your arms extended out in front of you at shoulder height. There should be some tension in the band to start each rep. With your elbows slightly bent, pull the band apart until it lightly touches the top of your chest. As you pull the band apart, do not extend at your lower back or allow your shoulders to round forward. Slowly reverse the motion, until your arms come back to the width they started at. Keep tension in the band throughout. To reduce the resistance, you can either begin with your hands positioned wider or hold one layer of the band instead of both layers as shown.

When performing strength scapular retractions, be sure to fold the band to form a smaller loop in the manner shown in the video. Place your arms through the band as if you’re putting on a shirt. The band should be placed across your chest area and behind the back of your arms, just below your shoulders. Keep your elbows bent slightly, raise your arms out to the side so that they form roughly a 45-degree angle to your torso. Keeping your arms in the position, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pause for 1-2 seconds, then allow your shoulder blades to protract (i.e., separate) to complete one rep. Perform all reps without allowing your lower-back to extend.

Sets, Reps and Rest Recommendations

If you’re using the super-set as a warm-up, I recommend doing one single set of about 15-20 reps of each exercise, and stopping just before fatigue sets in. If you’re using this superset as a burn-out towards the end of a workout, following a comprehensive strength training session, I recommend doing 2-3 sets of 20-30 reps of each exercise with 2-3 minutes rest between super-sets.

As you can see, the Strength Band is an extremely effective tool that is lightweight, portable, and 100 % affordable. Toss one or two different resistance levels in your gym bag or suitcase for a quick total body strength band workout anytime, anywhere.

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This post was originally published on May 16, 2018 and updated on May 21, 2019.

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Nick Tumminello

About Nick Tumminello

Nick, the 2016 NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year, is known as the “Trainer of Trainers.” He’s the owner of Performance University International, and he is the former Strength & Conditioning coach for Team Ground Control MMA. He is the author of Strength Training for Fat Loss, Building Muscle and Performance, and Your Workout Perfected. Throughout his career, Nick has authored over 15 DVDs and 200 articles.