Experiment for da ladies

Some females that lift still have weaknesses in their shoulder girdle or upper back despite the fact that they have lifted for at least one year. This is more common when the female is taller or has longer limbs because they won’t have large amounts of muscle mass to improve the angle of muscle attachment (this concept was discussed in this post — more on the same topic). Doing presses and rows are good at developing this musculature, but some times a specific deficiency needs specific work.

Band pulls are typically used in powerlifting programs to strengthen the shoulder girdle. Many powerlifters and their coaches despise overhead because it’s labeled as “injurious”. We know that by pressing correctly in external rotation and achieving a good overhead position is not injurious and is exceptional at increasing the strength and stability in the shoulder girdle. My hypothesis is that assistance work like band pulls were created to help keep shoulders healthy because there was an absence in quality overhead work. They were also developed in the realm of physical therapy to address muscle imbalances, which would be the case in a guy/girl who has a weak upper back.

Here’s the experiment: throw them in at the end of your training on a daily basis for at least a month. If “daily” won’t work, then do them at least three times a week. They can be done on the weekend, and could probably be done the day before a lifting session (though I’d avoid it before the heaviest session). Let’s see if there’s a significant improvement in pull-up strength, overhead strength, or the ability to stay in external rotation on the bench or press (elbows staying in and under the wrists). Guys, if you have issues with flaring elbows or a weak upper back, then do this experiment. They will only help the shoulder and won’t cause any harm. Remember that most of these “female topics” also apply to guys.

The video below explains how to do them. Cliff notes:
- use a light band
- use a supinated (underhand grip) that is at or right outside of shoulder width
- horizontally abduct shoulders (reverse fly)
- keep elbows/wrists straight
- control out and in (don’t flop back in)
- use 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps
- wear cool sunglasses