How to Do a Partner Saw: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

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The partner saw is a full-body, integrated movement that allows you to strengthen the muscles in your lower body, core, and upper body. This is not technically a cardio exercise, but you'll also increase your heart rate when you do it. It also allows you to work out with a partner, which can add a fun, competitive element.

Full-body exercises like the partner saw are great movements to add to an outdoor boot camp workout or a strength circuit. It's best to do the saw with a partner of a similar size and fitness level, although it is not necessary.

Also Known As: See-saw, high-low saw, resistance band see-saw

Targets: Full body

Equipment Needed: Resistance band

Level: Intermediate

How to Do a Partner Saw

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

You'll need a resistance band for this exercise. There are different types of bands available. You'll want to use one that has handles, and that can withstand substantial resistance. Braided bands, for example, can withstand significant stretch without breaking.

To set up the exercise, stand several feet apart from your partner and face each other. Each of you should hold one end of the band with an overhead grip using both hands. The band should be taut when you begin and should remain taut throughout the exercise.

  1. Partner A sits in a squat position and pushes the band down between the legs. Arms remain straight and band tight.
  2. At the same time, partner B lifts the band overhead, fully extending the arms and keeping the band tight.
  3. Partner A then lifts out of the squat to bring the band overhead, while partner B sits into a squat, pushing the band between the legs.

When both partners move continuously—in and out of the squat and overhead position—the movement looks similar to a playground see-saw.

Benefits of the Partner Saw

Band exercises like this one offer particular benefits over strength training workouts that use other types of equipment. Bands are inexpensive, lightweight, versatile, and easy to use. They are cheaper than most other types of equipment, and they take up very little storage space at home.

Resistance bands are perfect for travel workouts or for at-home workouts when you can't get to the gym.

Researchers have investigated the use of resistance bands with positive findings. For example, one extensive review published in 2019 compared the effectiveness of strength-training exercises with bands to strength-training exercises requiring traditional equipment such as weight machines and dumbbells.

Study authors found a substantial body of evidence to support their conclusion that in different populations and using diverse protocols, resistance training with elastic devices provides similar strength gains compared to resistance training performed with conventional devices.

Other studies have investigated resistance band benefits in special populations. One published report found that resistance exercise using elastic bands effectively improves flexibility and balance in older adults.

Cost-Effective Training

Another study found that a workout that includes combined variable elastic band plus free weight exercises effectively increases strength and power similar to free weights alone in novice exercisers. However, the authors of that study noted that supervision is recommended when bands are first used.

Partner Benefits

If you exercise with a workout buddy, you may also gain unique benefits. Researchers have found that if you start a workout program with your spouse or partner, you are likely to influence each other, creating mutual reinforcement of healthy behavior. Other studies have suggested that you are likely to exercise more often when you work out with a partner.

Partner exercises may also help you to work harder. In fact, NASA has investigated the use of a software-generated workout partner for astronauts in space. Researchers who developed the Simulated Partners and Collaborative Exercise (SPACE) program believe that compared to exercising alone, partner workouts may lead to greater work effort, aerobic capacity, muscle strength, exercise adherence, and enhanced psychological parameters.

While you are not likely to be contained in a small space like an astronaut, you can still benefit from doing partner exercises like the see-saw. You may notice that you work harder, maintain better form, and are more accountable to your workout program with a partner by your side.

Other Variations of a Partner Saw

You can perform this exercise in different ways to meet your skill level and goals. To increase the challenge, grab a heavier band. You can also walk further apart to increase the resistance, but make changes in small increments. Stepping too far apart can put too much tension on the band and may cause it to snap.

No-Partner Saw

While the partner saw is a fun partner activity, you can also do this move solo. Attach the band to a pole, railing, or wall at hip height.

  1. Sit in a squat position and push the band down between the legs. Arms remain straight and band tight.
  2. Lift out of the squat to bring the band overhead.
  3. Repeat, bringing the band down and the body into a squat again.

Banded Squat Thrust

The partner saw is similar to a banded thruster, another move that doesn't require a partner.

  1. Step on a band in the center, with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Hold the ends of the band in each hand and hinge your hips, bending your knees to squat down.
  3. Extend out of the squat, pushing your arms overhead and extending the band upward, keeping your core engaged and spine neutral.
  4. Lower the bands to your shoulders and then descend back into a squat to perform another rep.

Common Mistakes

There are a few common blunders to watch for when doing a partner saw.

Loose Band

Coordinating the movement while trying to keep the band tight takes a little bit of practice. But once you get the hang of it, it's essential to challenge yourself to stretch the band. The band adds resistance, so if it is not stretched, the only benefits to the movement are those gained by moving in and out of the squat.

Bent Arms

It may be harder to keep the band taut if you bend your arms when you push the band down or extend the arms overhead. You may need to adjust the amount of space between you and your partner to be sure that you can keep the arms straight throughout the movement.

Arching the Back

Any time that you extend the arms overhead, there can be a tendency to arch the back. This usually happens if you bring the arms too far back behind your head. Keep the abs tight and your core engaged to protect the back and avoid arching through the lower back.

Poor Squat Position

If you don't squat fully or if your squat form is poor, you won't gain the full benefits of this exercise. Common squat pitfalls include keeping the feet too close together, not lowering the body enough, not shifting the hips back far enough, and extending the knees beyond the toes.

To squat correctly, be sure that you begin with the feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart. Lower the body by hinging at the hips and bending the knees. It should look as though you are lowering the body to sit on an imaginary chair behind you. Keep the core tight and the back strong and straight.

Safety and Precautions

Before you try this or any exercise, you should be in good health. Always seek the guidance of your healthcare provider if you are new to training or if you are coming back to exercise after an injury, illness, or childbirth. You can also work with a qualified fitness trainer to get form tips and exercise advice.

Any exercise move that includes a squat may not be comfortable for those with knee problems. If you experience knee pain when squatting, make sure your feet are far enough apart. Seek the advice of a physical therapist or your healthcare provider if you are concerned about your knees.

Also, it's wise to look for cracks or tears before doing this or any exercise with an exercise band. Run your hand along the length of the band and check for any deterioration.

Be especially careful to check the area where the band connects to the handle, as this is the part of the band that often fails. Usually, bands last for about six months to two years, depending on how often you use them. Cleaning the bands after use and storing them away from sunlight helps them to last longer.

If resistance bands are old, cracked, or have eroded near the handles, they can snap when stretched, causing injury to the user.

There are a few other safety tips to keep in mind when using bands. First, experts advise that you should never stretch a resistance band over 2.5 times its length. This increases the likelihood of the band snapping.

Also, when doing partner band exercises, never release the band when it is stretched. Your partner can lose their balance or fall when the tension is quickly released. When you're done doing the exercise, take a few steps toward each other so that band is slack, and then release.

Try It Out

Incorporate this move and similar ones into one of these popular workouts:

6 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lopes JSS, Machado AF, Micheletti JK, de Almeida AC, Cavina AP, Pastre CM. Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysisSAGE Open Med. 2019;7:2050312119831116. doi:10.1177/2050312119831116

  2. Yeun YR. Effectiveness of resistance exercise using elastic bands on flexibility and balance among the elderly people living in the community: a systematic review and meta-analysisJ Phys Ther Sci. 2017;29(9):1695–1699. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1695

  3. Shoepe TC, Ramirez DA, Rovetti RJ, Kohler DR, Almstedt HC. The effects of 24 weeks of resistance training with simultaneous elastic and free weight loading on muscular performance of novice liftersJ Hum Kinet. 2011;29:93–106. doi:10.2478/v10078-011-0043-8

  4. Perry B, Ciciurkaite G, Brady CF, Garcia J. Partner influence in diet and exercise behaviors: testing behavior modeling, social control, and normative body sizePLoS One. 2016;11(12):e0169193. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0169193

  5. Kanamori S, Takamiya T, Inoue S, Kai Y, Kawachi I, Kondo K. Exercising alone versus with others and associations with subjective health status in older Japanese: The JAGES Cohort StudySci Rep. 2016;6:39151. doi:10.1038/srep39151

  6. Feltz DL, Ploutz-Snyder L, Winn B, et al. Simulated Partners and Collaborative Exercise (SPACE) to boost motivation for astronauts: study protocolBMC Psychol. 2016;4(1):54. doi:10.1186/s40359-016-0165-9

By Malia Frey, M.A., ACE-CHC, CPT
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.