Friday, August 5, 2011

Supercharging the Back

Teres major, right under the armpit, often becomes
sore from working the lats & not the lats themselves.

Today I'll share a few tips for using the lats and the mid-back more efficiently. This is in addition to t-spine mobility and maintaining a tight low back to optimize pulling strength.

First take another glance at latissimus dorsi,

It's the red glaring area if you can't tell.

It's understandable to believe this giant muscle would be higher up based on experience with soreness. No one's held responsible to learn anatomy before they exercise but as you can see the lat is located lower than you would expect it to be. And how many times does it feel sore from a training session? (Note: A muscle doesn't need to become sore to mean it has been worked but it can be used as an indicator depending on the context.)

Roll It Out

Grab a foam roller or medicine ball and give it a whirl. It's that simple to feel the muscle without having to exercise it directly.

Be sure to hit the lat and not the spine. You'll be orienting yourself on a slight tilt rather than completely flat. 5-8 slow passes from the bottom of the armpit to right before the last rib should cover it. And there's no need to be overly aggressive - don't grind the thing into your side and be in a world of hurt.

Low Trap

Mike Robertson discusses the Y, T, & W drills:

These are great for hitting low trapezius since compound pulls easily develop the middle and upper parts of the trap. If you haven't performed these before, I suggest 4-6 reps per each position and slowly work up [+2 reps] to the recommendations in the video.

Sternum Chin-Ups

The sternum is the breastbone. In a sternum chin-up the body is angled parallel to the floor as close as possible while attempting to perform a chin-up making the chest touch the bar [full instruction here].

The first time I completed these, the next day I was literally sore in new places. While it's a tough exercise, it's possible to work up to them using the regression the lat-pulldown to the sternum,

It's similar to the typical lat-pulldown. Here lean back, arch your body, and use an underhand grip to pull the cable to your windpipe. The most important point is keeping a rigid torso to mimic the actual sternum chin-up and properly protracting/retracting the shoulder blades.

Last Thoughts

Boris reviewed a DVD called Lats: The Super Muscles if anyone is interested (it's kettlebell-focused for the most part).

There isn't much else to add, but the take away point is to use what you've got! While going through motions may appear you're working X or Y, sometimes that's not always the case. Be mindful of what you're doing.

After all, you don't want to waste your time. Have a good weekend everyone!
omplicated, right?

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