Premier Private Personal Trainer & Online Coach

Band Pull Aparts Muscles Worked & How To Do

By: Zack Mathews, NASM - CPT, CES, & PES, PN-L1

Band pull aparts are one of the most convenient and easy to do exercises that you can perform anywhere. 

They have been a staple in my client’s programs for years and learning how to do band pull aparts and the muscles worked are going to help in yours.

Band Pull Aparts Muscles Worked

Performing a proper band pull apart will target the rear deltoids (back of the shoulders) and the muscles in your upper back including the trapezius and rhomboids.

These muscles are extremely important to target in your training because we often spend so much time in a forward shoulder and neck position.

From sitting at the desk working for 8 hours to sitting on phones scrolling through TikTok videos, it’s easy for people to begin have bad posture and/or tightness in their shoulders and neck.

The muscles worked in band pull aparts will help combat this lifestyle and help your shoulders and back feel amazing.

Pair band pull aparts with YTW's for a great 1 - 2 punch for making your shoulders healthy and bullet proof!

band pull aparts muscles worked

How To Do Band Pull Aparts

  • Standing tall, wrap a slim resistance band around your waist and let one end hug against your lower back.


  • Grip the band with an overhand grip with your hands about 12 inches away from each other.


  • Extended your arms to lock out your elbows and align the band so it’s even with the middle of your chest.


  • Don’t overarch your back.  The cue I use with clients is “ribs down, abs crunched”.


  • While keeping your elbows locked out, begin pulling outward on the band as you pull your shoulder blades together.


  • The band should hit directly on the middle of your chest, right around the nipple line. At this position your shoulders should be squeezed together without shrugging.


  • Continuing to keep your elbows locked out, bring the band back to its starting position.


To make this exercise harder, you can skip the part where you wrap the band around your lower back and instead grip both ends of the band together.  Check the video below for proper form.

How Many Sets And Reps Of Band Pull Aparts

Because of its versatility and the fact that it’s a very joint friendly movement, you can do lots of different rep ranges.

Generally speaking, 15 - 20 reps for 3 sets is a good starting point for sets and reps of band pull aparts.

I like to have some fun with this exercise and will often have my clients do 50 - 100 reps as a closer to their workout or as part of a challenge.

Check out my Rebuild Your Body workout programs.

How to do band pull aparts

9 Simple & Effective Band Pull Apart Variations

The classic banded pull aparts that you learned above will be all you ever need, but if you want to switch things up from time to time, try these.

Bent Over Band Pull Aparts

Instead of standing tall, you’ll be in a hinged position. Try to get your upper body parallel with the floor.  

From this position you’ll perform your normal band pull apart.  This variation is slightly harder because you’re pulling up into gravity.

Lying Band Pull Aparts

I like this variation because the floor gives you feedback on how far you need to go with your pull apart.  I’ve noticed that people doing resistance band pull aparts tend to go too heavy on the band and can’t get full range of motion.

Lying on the floor and adding a 1 second pause when your hands hits the ground forces you to use an appropriate band.

7 Other Fun Ways To Do Banded Pull Aparts

I made a fun video on Tiktok awhile back with different band pull apart variations that you’ve maybe never seen below.

Check out the video below to try them out.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Can I Do Band Pull Aparts?

Band pull aparts don’t put a lot of stress on your upper back muscles like other exercises do so it’s safe to do them as often as you want.

You can do them 2x/week as part of your workout or daily to help loosen up your shoulders and upper back.  Do what is best for you!

Are Band Pull Aparts Effective At Building Muscle?

Band pull aparts are a great secondary exercise to help you get extra volume on the rear deltoids, traps, and rhomboids but the majority of your muscle will be from big compound movements like rows and pull-ups.

Pull aparts should be a part of any workout routine because they are a great compliment to rows and pull-ups, and they help improve your shoulder and upper back mobility.

Here are some upper body workouts that you can do that can include band pull aparts.

Beginner Back Workout

Back Workout With Dumbbells - Pull aparts are the perfect accessory exercise for these movements.

What Can I Do Instead Of Band Pull Aparts?

To find a good alternative to band pull aparts, we want to think about exercises that mimic the same motion.

That means we want an exercise that pulls the scapula (shoulder blades) back.  My two favorite movements would be bent over rear delt flys, chest supported rear delt flys, and face pulls.

Band Pull Apart Muscles Worked & How To Do Recap

The primary muscles worked in band pull aparts are the rear deltoids, trapezius, and rhomboids.  

The main cues to remember for your pull aparts are to use a band that gives proper resistance, allows you to keep your core engaged, and one where you can full extend your arms to get a great stretch on your shoulders and upper back.