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7 Pulldown exercise
The pulldown exercise is a strength training exercise designed to develop the latissimus dorsi muscle. It performs the functions of downward rotation and depression of the scapulae combined with adduction and extension of the shoulder joint.
The cable lat pulldown is done where the handle is moved via a cable pulley, as opposed to doing pulldowns on a leverage machine.
The standard pulldown motion is a compound movement that requires dynamic work by muscles surrounding the three joints which move during the exercise. These are the elbow in conjunction with the glenohumeral and scapulothooracic joints in the shoulder girdle.
The latissimus dorsi performs extension and adduction of the arm directly to the spinal fascia. It bypasses the scapulae unlike other muscles which perform this function, so work performed by this muscle will not contribute to muscles that affect the scapulae. The lower sternal fibers of the pectoralis major also perform this role of extension and adduction to a lesser degree.
The contraction of these adductor/extensor muscles can indirectly depress and downwardly rotate the scapulae; this is only required when they are pulled into elevation and upward rotation by the contraction of muscles that attach to the scapulae. If the weight were being pulled solely by the lats, for example, the scapulae would simply be pulled down by gravity, along for the ride.
Muscles that attach to and depress the scapulae include the lower trapezius muscle and the pectoralis minor. The pec minor also works in conjunction with the rhomboid muscle and levator scapulae to perform downward rotation of the scapulae.
Muscles which attach to the scapulae that adduct and extend the arm include the posterior deltoid muscles, the teres major, and minor stabilizing contribution from some rotator cuff muscles (infraspinatus and teres minor as lateral rotators, subscapularis as medial rotators).
Muscles which flex the elbow joint such as the biceps brachii muscle, brachialis muscles and brachioradialis muscle are active to improve leverage. As the biceps originate on the scapula unlike the other two which originate on the humerus, the biceps are inclined to serve a role as a dynamic stabilizer, much as the hamstrings would during a squat. This is because, while the biceps shortens as the elbow flexes, it will also lengthen as the shoulder extends.
A supinated grip at the forearm allows the biceps to contribute more strongly as an elbow flexor. A prone grip will rely more greatly on the other flexors, the brachialis and brachioradialis.
Using a pronated grip during pull-downs tends to result in the greatest activation of the latissimus dorsi, with no difference in latissimus dorsi activity between grip widths.
The pulldown is extremely similar to the pull-up, but uses moving external weights or resistance with a fixed body rather than a fixed bar and a moving body. This makes the pull-down an open-chain movement and the pull-up a closed-chain movement. The weight moved can also be adjusted to be more or less than the weight of the person doing the exercise.
The pulldown usually uses a weight machine with a seat and brace for the thighs. The starting position involves sitting at the machine with the thighs braced, back straight and feet flat on the floor. The arms are held overhead at full extension, grasping a bar connected to the weight stack. The movement is initiated by pulling the elbows down and back, lowering the bar to the neck, and completed by returning to the initial position.
Narrow grip underhand pulldown begin
Narrow grip underhand pulldown end
Wide grip overhand pulldown begin
Wide grip overhand pulldown end
Variations can include touching the bar to the chest (sternum) versus the back of the neck, or varying hand spacing (wide versus narrow) or orientation (pronated versus supinated). The exercise can also be done using cable machines, a handle attached to a cable is pulled toward the body, this can be done while seated on a bench or stability ball, kneeling, or in a standing or squatting position. The number of repetitions and weight moved varies according to the specific training plan of the person training.
The chin-up/pull-up is a very similar exercise that moves the body against a fixed bar rather than moving a bar against a fixed body.
This variation of the lat pulldown, in which the bar is pulled behind the neck, may be dangerous and less effective. Behind the neck lat pulldowns offer no biomechanical advantages. It can cause compression of the cervical spine disks, and disk damage if contact is made by striking the bar to the neck. In addition, it can cause rotator cuff injuries.
If the weight is pulled to touch the front of the chest, the rhomboid muscles’ work may increase, while pulling the weight down to touch the back of the neck may work the upper trapezius muscle.
The “lat” sometimes added before “pulldown” commonly refers to the latissimus dorsi used in the movement.
Most exercises describe the muscle that is involved and the direction of the exercise e.g. biceps curl, triceps extension, leg press, hamstring curl, abdominal curl and so on.
Although “lat” can be first thought as short for “lateral”, the term lateral means sideways and away from the body, which only describes the direction of the humerus during the eccentric portion of the movement (during which the bar is being raised, not pulled down). This means “lateral” is not an ideal term to describe the movement, it is an adjective more appropriate in usage such as lateral raise.
6 Seated Cable Rows
In strength training, rowing (or a row, usually preceded by a qualifying adjective — for instance a seated row) is an exercise where the purpose is to strengthen the muscles that draw the rower’s arms toward the body (latissimus dorsi) as well as those that retract the scapulae (trapezius and rhomboids) and those that support the spine (erector spinae). When done on a rowing machine, rowing also exercises muscles that extend and support the legs (quadriceps and thigh muscles). In all cases, the abdominal and lower back muscles must be used in order to support the body and prevent back injury.
Many other weight-assisted gym exercises mimic the movement of rowing, such as the deadlift, high pull and the bent-over row. An effective off-season training programme combines both erg pieces and weight-assisted movements similar to rowing, with an emphasis on improving endurance under high tension rather than maximum strength.
5 Seated Row Machine
Follow machine instructions for set up and select desired weight. Sit so feet are flat on floor, knees are above ankles, abs are engaged, back is straight and front of torso is supported by pad. Grip the handles by reaching in front of you, palms facing each other.
EXHALE: Pull the handles, bending elbows and pointing them behind you as you focus on squeezing your shoulder blades towards each other.
INHALE: Slowly straighten the arms to the starting position to complete one rep.
Keep your arms close to the sides of the body. Make sure your wrists don’t bend–keep them in line with the forearm. Don’t let your chest or torso lift away from the pad in front of you.
Muscles Worked: Back
4 Cable Pull-Over
The pullover is an exercise that is performed with either a dumbbell or a barbell. Pullovers can be made to affect either the chest or the back depending on how wide the grip is (barbell) and the position of the shoulders. A research done on the pullover movement using a barbell suggested more effect on the pectoralis major muscle as compared to the latissimus dorsi.
A typical pullover involves resting the upper back on a flat bench. The hips are kept slightly flexed. Keeping the hips off the bench is said to help in balancing the weight and stability during the movement. The weight is held above the chest with elbows slightly bent.
This exercise can be done using either a straight barbell, EZ barbell, dumbbell or cable attachment.
The elbows could also be bent at about 90° to achieve a different stretch. In this variation the weight is lowered till the upper arm is in line with the torso.
The deadlift is a weight training exercise in which a loaded barbell or bar is lifted off the ground to the level of the hips, torso perpendicular to the floor, before being placed back on the ground. It is one of the three powerlifting exercises, along with the squat and bench press.
Deadlift refers to the lifting of dead weight (weight without momentum), such as weights lying on the ground. It is one of the few standard weight training exercises in which all repetitions begin with dead weight. In most other lifts there is an eccentric (lowering of the weight) phase followed by the concentric (lifting of the weight) phase. During these exercises, a small amount of energy is stored in the stretched muscles and tendons in the eccentric phase if the lifter is not flexible beyond the range of motion.
There are several positions one can approach when performing the deadlift, which include the conventional deadlift, squat, and sumo-deadlift.
Although this exercise uses the hips and legs as the primary movers, it can just as easily be considered a back exercise.
Conventional deadlift: The deadlift can be broken down into three parts: The setup, the initial pull or drive, and the lockout.
Setup: When performing a deadlift, a lifter sets in a position that eccentrically loads the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus while the muscles of the lumbar contract isometrically in an effort to stabilize the spine.
Set behind the bar with it touching or nearly touching the legs.
Begin by hinging at the hips and knees, setting one’s weight predominantly in the heels while maintaining flat feet.
Maintain the spine long and straight as the hips hinge back, taking care not to allow the knees to track forwards over the toes.
Grip the bar outside of the legs.
Depress the shoulders away from the ears to load the lats and to generate force throughout the spinal erectors.
Drive: The next section of the deadlift produces the highest amount of force. By pushing down through their heels while simultaneously pushing up and forward with their hips and maintaining depressed scapula and a long tense spine an individual can remain safe during this motion. This is considered the most difficult part of the entire movement due to the amount of work required to drive the bar off the ground initially.
Take a deep diaphragmatic breath and hold it in during the movement, creating an outward pressure on the core to further stabilize the lumbopelvic hip complex and core throughout the motion.
Keep the muscles of the back contracted tightly in order to maintain a safe posture throughout the motion.
Drive up and forward with the hips and legs to stand erect and lift the bar.
Lockout: The finish is the most critical aspect of the motion. This requires being totally erect with a neutral spine and forceful hip extension to engage the muscles of the lumbar spine and abdomen in unison with the glutes.
Drive the hips completely into the bar, getting so tall as possible.
Contract the glutei and the rectus abdominis to finish the movement with the pelvis in a neutral position. Contracting the glutes as well as the abdominal muscles is critical for low back health and safety.
Lowering the weight: Performing the above steps in reverse order. As the muscles of the back and core must remain tight throughout the motion, one should simply hinge at the hips and knees to bring the weight down. Lowering the chest towards the knees while keeping the bar close is the safest way to ultimately complete the motion.
There are a few common errors during the performance of the deadlift.
Shoulders are protracted: allowing the shoulders to come forward disengages the back muscles which stabilize the spine.
Jerking the bar: the slack should be taken from the bar by squeezing the back muscles first and straightening the arms. The bar should then be lifted in a smooth motion without jerking.
Squatting: the objective of a deadlift is to hinge the hips. The knees will be slightly bent in the setup phase, but should not bend so deeply as to form a squat.
Too far from the bar: if the load is too far forward, the lifter may compensate by rounding the back or shifting the weight to the front of the foot. Both result in shifting which muscles are used and could cause injury.
Back is excessively rounded or arched: it is often recommended that during the lift the back is flat with the spine neutral. However, some lifters prefer to slightly round their back. If the back is excessively rounded though, then the load may be lifted awkwardly and place too much stress or pressure on the back which may lead to injury. This subject is an issue of on-going debate among deadlifters.
Poor lowering of the weight: bending the knees too soon when lowering the weight can put pressure on the lower back. While there should be a very slight bend in the knees on the way down, bend the knees more fully (at whatever depth is needed to keep a neutral spine) once the bar has passed them on the way down.
Deadlifts can be performed using dumbbells, barbells, or kettlebells with one hand or two hands & with one leg or two legs. Other variations are the side deadlift or suitcase deadlift, rack pulls, deadlift lockouts, deficit deadlift or deadlift from a box (pulling from the floor while standing on a built or improvised low platform).
Each of these variations is called for to address specific weaknesses in a lifter’s overall deadlift. For instance if the athlete has difficulty breaking contact at max. weight, deficit deadlifts are performed to strengthen the gluteus maximus and hamstrings due to the greater range of motion required by standing on the low platform or low box. On the other hand, if the lifter has no problem with breaking contact with the floor but has difficulty locking out, they should perform rack pulls to strengthen their upper back, posterior deltoids, and trapezius muscles while de-emphasizing the gluteus and hamstrings.
The archaic “dead weight lift”, or “dead weight lift with lifting bar” involved a T-bar with weight loaded on it while the lifter stood on sturdy chairs or other such platforms. A remarkably heavy amount of weight could be lifted in this manner due to its short range of motion; the main limitations are in the grip. This lift is similar to the modern day rack pulls, where a heavy amount of weight is lifted deadlift style a short distance in a power cage or squat rack.
Typically, there are three grips used: overhand (pronated), a mixed overhand-underhand (supinated) (sometimes called “offset,” “staggered,” “alternating”, or “mixed”) grip, or a hook grip. Depending on forearm strength, the overhand grip may result in the bar potentially rolling about. Mixed grip is capable of neutralizing this through the “physics of reverse torsion.” The mixed grip allows more weight to be held for this reason.
In order to prevent the bar from rolling out of the hands, some lifters have been known to use an Olympic weightlifting technique known as the hook grip. This is similar to an overhand grip, but the thumbs are inside, allowing the lifter to “hook” onto them with the fingers. The hook grip can make it easier to hold heavier weights using less grip strength, and keeps both shoulders and elbows in a symmetrical position. While it theoretically takes much of the stress off the joints which might be created by the twisting of a mixed grip, it has the disadvantage of being extremely uncomfortable for the thumbs, something which those who advocate it says will pass once a lifter becomes accustomed to it. Another, but rarely used method is a combination of the mixed overhand-underhand grip and the hook grip, preferred by people who lift heavier weights than their grip can handle, but who don’t want to rely on lifting straps or other supportive gear.
Many powerlifters adopt the overhand grip for their lower weight sets and move to the mixed grip to lift larger weights so they can achieve their one rep max.
A neutral grip can be achieved by the use of a trap bar; which is a hexagonal shaped bar which the lifter stands inside whilst holding the two side handles. The neutral grip provides the lifter slightly different posturing which can help reduce the risk of injury.
There are numerous variations of the deadlift:
Stiff-legged deadlift: The grounded-bar start and end positions are modified to make the legs as straight as possible without rounding the back.
Romanian deadlift: From the standing position, the bar is lowered to about knee-height where the hamstrings are at maximal stretch without rounding the back, developing a natural bend in the legs without squatting, then returning to standing. The Romanian deadlift is named for Nicu Vlad. Because the workout begins from a standing position rather than from a dead stop, it is alternatively called an undead lift.
American deadlift: A variant of the Romanian deadlift, where a hip thrust and glute squeeze is added to the top of the movement.
Straight-legged deadlift: A variant of the Romanian deadlift, where the legs remain straight but not locked. The back usually needs to be rounded if the bar is taken to the floor.
Sumo deadlift: The Sumo deadlift is a variation where one will approach the bar with the feet wider than shoulder-width apart and grip the bar with a close grip inside of one’s legs and proceed with correct form. Compared to conventional deadlifts, the Sumo deadlift puts more emphasis on the glutes, hamstrings, hips, quads, and traps with less of an impact on spinal erectors and the posterior chain. Weightlifters with a history of back injuries may find that sumo deadlifts are a viable alternative. If allowed in competition, many lifters favor the Sumo deadlift due to shorter bar travel from floor to lockout.
Trap bar deadlift: The trap bar deadlift is a variation of the deadlift using a special hexagonal bar (a trap bar). This allows more clearance for the knees to pass “through” the bar. To perform the trapbar deadlift, one should load the bar, step inside the hollow portion of the bar, bend down, grasp the handles, stand erect, then lower the bar to the ground in the exact opposite path. This is very helpful for both the handgrip and the lifter’s hips. The trap bar deadlift allows for greater amounts of peak force production meaning it can be performed more powerfully. This allows for a greater amount of weight to be lifted than in a traditional barbell deadlift. It also reduces the potential for injury by avoiding excessive strain on the lower back. This is especially advantageous for beginners.
A deadlift suit is a special piece of powerlifting assistance clothing. The suits are made from very tight material. The material tightens on the squat on the way down, storing energy, that gives an extra boost with the stored tension to lift up. Thus, records are recorded with and without the suit. The starting position with a suit is slightly different to maximize use, so training with a suit is different. Wrist wraps are sometimes used to provide support, not necessarily to increase lift, like a suit.
2 Hyperextension or Back Extension
A hyperextension or back extension is an exercise that works the lower back as well as the mid and upper back, specifically the erector spinae.
It may be performed on the ground by lying prone with arms overhead and lifting the arms, upper torso, and legs as far as possible, or using a Roman chair to hold the feet down and hips up. Another version is the bird dog exercise, performed lying on the knees, where one arm and the opposite leg are lifted.
1 Trapezius Workout on Smith Machines
An effective exercise for adding mass to the trapezius muscles which lie laterally to the neck on either sides of the shoulders. The traps typically improve in size and strength relatively fast compared to other muscles and can be done easily with free weight barbell, smith machine, or dumbbells. This discussion will cover the reverse shrug as performed with a smith machine.
Muscles Used in the Smith Machine Reverse Shrugs exercise:
The major muscle groups are: upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and forearm flexor muscles for gripping the bar.
Perform Smith Machine Reverse Shrugs:
Stand in front of the bar with back to the bar and the bar set at a height slightly higher than arms length (near waist).
Bend at the knees slightly.
Grab bar with both hands in the underhand grip position.
Palms should be facing somewhat towards body with this grip.
Grip should be about shoulder width or slightly narrow to that on the bar.
Stand so your waist is touching the bar.
Don’t stand away from bar as this can cause injury.
Initiate upward movement at the trapezius muscles.
Imagine bringing your shoulders straight up to your ears.
Do not bend at elbows and keep arms straight.
Be sure to keep your chest out and shoulders back (good posture).
Do not lead forward at any point.
Movement is complete once you cannot raise your shoulders any higher.
Try to not let the bar break contact with your body at all throughout movement.
Bar should be rubbing against body to keep it as close as possible.
Slowly allow shoulders to descend almost to resting position before next repetition.
Do not allow weight to drop as this can cause injury.
Again maintain upright posture and don’t lean forward.
Some people find it easier to maintain posture and prevent forward tilting by actually leaning back slightly.
Looking straight up while performing this exercise may help you maintain upright posture while maximally contracting your traps.