Strength Bands are one of the most portable and versatile tools in the gym – however, the simplicity of their design can sometimes stump people on what exactly to do with them. We teamed up with Nick Tumminello, seasoned author and the “trainer of trainers”, to share a few of his favorite, innovative exercises with strength bands. Nick will breakdown a new exercise each week and show you how to implement it into your own workouts or your clients’ training programs. Check out what you missed week one here.
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.