I’ve written several times about the importance of upper back work, so I wont go into too much detail today as to why it’s so important. In short, most of us spend a great deal of time every day hunched over at computers, driving, sitting at the dinner table and watching TV. Then when we go to the gym, we spend most of our time working on the muscles we can see (chest, biceps and shoulders) which pulls us further into a hunched position.
To put it simply, we need A LOT of upper back work to combat this imbalance. In fact, I believe it’s so important that I’ve started incorporating some kind of upper back work into nearly every single session for all of my clients. Even if it’s some lighter, higher rep work placed between something like heavy sets of squats or used as an active recovery between sled pushes, they do something for the back almost every time the meet with me.
Having a strong upper back not only carries over to bigger benches, deadlifts and squats, but it also has a tremendous impact on your posture as well as keeping your back injury free.
One of my favorite exercises that I’ve been incorporating lately is the Band Face Pull. This exercise does a fantastic job of firing up the middle traps as well as get some external shoulder rotation which is great for keeping your rotator cuff healthy.
Here’s what the Band Face Pull looks like:
Here’s how to do them:
-Wrap a band around a pole, squat rack, etc.
-Grab the band with your palms facing in and your knuckles facing up. Get your feet in a split stance position (one foot forward, one back).
-Pull the band towards your face, making sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together as tightly as you can.
-Keep your hands up. Don’t let them drop so that your knuckles are pointing forward. I tell clients to make a goalpost with their forearms.
-Avoid shrugging your shoulders.
-Avoid arching your back to try and get a greater range of motion. If you have to lean way back to get your hands by your head, you are using too much tension.
I like to use these for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. Give them a shot and let me know what you think!
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