Internal rotation

Internal rotation


Muscle group:   The shoulder muscles

Trained muscle:   Rotator cuff

Focused muscle:   Internal rotators

Fitness level:   Advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises, free weight exercises, machine exercises


 

Internal rotation represents an effective exercise for the internal rotators of the rotator cuff of the shoulder. We can choose between different variations using free weights, the cable machine, or just our own body weight.

Internal rotation on the cable machine

Internal rotation on the cable machine can be practised in standing, sitting, or lying position. The standing and sitting versions are quite similar. Sideways, we either stand shoulder wide with slightly bend knees or sit on the cable machine. The cable runs on arm level. Tense the trunk muscles and hold on to the machine (if possible), the seat cushion, or similar to stabilize the body. Grab the handle tightly and actively stabilize the wrist. The elbow fixates on the side of the body and the upper arm is externally rotated. In a controlled movement you now internally rotate the upper arm. The forearm performs a circular movement until it is in front of the body. The back of the hand points to the front. Bring the arm back smoothly to complete one repetition.

Internal rotation on the cable machine

Internal rotation on the cable machine

 

For internal rotations in lying position we get in supine position with our head toward the cable machine. The legs are bent. The upper arm of the training arm lies on the floor on shoulder level. The elbow bends at approximately 90°. The arm rotates externally to have it point toward the machine. Grab the handle and actively stabilize the wrist. Now the upper arm rotates internally. The forearm performs a circular movement. In the end position the arm points down toward the feet. The back of the hand points up. The upper arm remains in its position on the floor. Bring back the arm smoothly to complete one repetition.

Internal rotation on the cable machine

Internal rotation on the cable machine

 

Internal rotation – isometrically

Internal rotations can also be performed isometrically. Stand shoulder wide or in lunge position beside an insurmountable resistance, like a wall, a pole, a machine, or similar. Raise the training arm with the elbow on shoulder level. The elbow bends at approximately 90° and the forearm points upward. Elbow and forearm lie flatly on the insurmountable resistance. Tens the trunk muscles. The free arm can hold on to the wall, the machine, or similar to stabilize the body. The training arm now applies maximal internally-rotating pressure to the insurmountable resistance. Avoid press breathing (exhalation against closed airways).

Internal rotation isometric

Internal rotation isometric

 

Internal and external rotation combined

Internal rotations can also be combined with the exercise external rotation. Here, we either lie laterally on the floor or bench. The legs are bent at approximately 90°. The elbows bend at approximately 90° and fixate on the sides of the body. Hold the dumbbells in tight grip actively stabilizing your wrists. From that position rotate the top arm externally and the bottom arm internally in a controlled movement. Both forearms will perform a circular upward movement. The upper arms remain fixated on the body. Bring the arms back down to complete one repetition. To solely work out this variation in internal rotation, you would just use the bottom arm. For the sole external rotation please see External rotation.

Internal and external rotation combined

Internal and external rotation combined

 


Antagonist: External rotators

Stretching: Chest stretches

 

 


External rotation

External rotation


Muscle group:   The shoulder muscles

Trained muscle:   Rotator cuff

Focused muscle:   External rotators

Fitness level:   Advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises, free weight exercises, machine exercises


 

External rotation represents an effective exercise for the external rotators of the rotator cuff of the shoulder. We can choose between many different variations using free weights, the cable machine, or just our own body weight.

External rotation in lateral lying position

External rotation in lateral lying position can be exercised on the floor, the bench, or similar. The legs are bent at approximately 90°. The bottom arm supports on the floor. The elbow of the top arm bends at approximately 90° and fixates on the side of the body. Hold the dumbbell in tight grip actively stabilizing your wrist. From that position rotate the top arm upward maximally in a controlled movement. The upper arm remains fixated on the body. Bring the arm back down to complete one repetition.

External rotation lying

External rotation lying

 

External rotation – arm supports on bench

For external rotations with the training arm supported on a bench we choose a sitting position close beside the bench on the floor. The upper body slightly leans forward. Grab the dumbbell actively stabilizing your wrist. The elbow rests on the bench at an angle of approximately 90°. The arm yet is still inward rotated (back of the hand points upward). Now rotate the arm externally in a controlled movement (forearm moves up). Bring the arm back down to complete one repetition.

External rotation, arm supported on bench

External rotation, arm supported on bench

 

External rotation on the cable machine

External rotation on the cable machine can be practised in standing, sitting, or lying position. Standing and sitting works quite similar. Sideways, you either stand with slightly bend knees or sit on the cable machine. If possible, hold on to the machine, the seat cushion, or similar to stabilize your body. The cable should be adjusted close to the level of the training arm. The elbow is bent at approximately 90° fixating on the side (hip) of the body. Grab the handle tightly and actively stabilize the wrist. In the starting position the back of the hand points to the front. Tense the trunk muscles and begin to rotate externally against the resistance. In the end position the forearm points to the front and the back of the hand outward to the side. Bring the arm back smoothly to complete one repetition.

External rotation on the cable machine

External rotation on the cable machine

 

For external rotations on the cable machine in lying position we lay down in supine position with our bent legs toward the cable. The training arm lies on the floor with the elbow on shoulder level and bent at approximately 90°. The hand points toward the cable machine. Tense your abdominal muscles. The lower back pulls toward the floor. Grab the handle actively stabilizing the wrist. In a controlled movement you perform an external rotation with the upper arm. The elbow remains fixated on the floor on shoulder level. The forearm performs a circular movement until it points backward. Bring the arm back smoothly to complete one repetition.

External rotation on the cable machine

External rotation on the cable machine

 

External rotation with both arms

External rotations can be worked out with both arms simultaneously using dumbbells. Either choose a standing position with shoulder wide stand and slightly bent knees or sit down on a bench. The upper body leans forward a bit keeping the back upright. Lift both arms and bring the elbows in one line with your shoulders. The upper arms are still internally rotated and point down toward the floor. The back of the hands point up. Hold the dumbbells in tight grip actively stabilizing your wrists. Tense your trunk muscles and rotate your upper arms externally. The elbows remain in one line with the shoulders and the forearms perform a circular upward movement. Bring the arms back down to complete one repetition.

External rotation, sitting on bench

External rotation, sitting on bench

 

External rotation – isometric

External rotations can also be trained isometrically. We stand shoulder wide or in lunge position beside a wall, a pole, a machine at the gym, or any other insurmountable resistance. Raise one arm (training arm) sideways to have the elbow on shoulder level. Bend the elbow at approximately 90°. The forearm points upward. Elbow and forearm lie on the wall. Tense the trunk muscles. The free arm can hold on to the wall, machine, or similar to stabilize the body. Apply maximal externally-rotating pressure with your training arm to the insurmountable resistance. Avoid press breathing (exhalation against closed airways).

External rotation isometric

External rotation isometric

 

External and internal rotation combined

The exercise external rotation can be combined with internal rotations. Here, we laterally lie on the floor or bench, as explained above in “External rotation in lateral lying position”. Now we also work out with the bottom arm, which performs an internal rotation in form of a circular upward movement.

Internal and external rotation combined

Internal and external rotation combined

 


Antagonist: Internal rotators

Stretching: Rotator cuff stretches

 

 


Shoulder raises

Shoulder raises


Muscle group:   The back muscles, the shoulder muscles

Trained muscle:   Trapezius, deltoid

Focused muscle:   Trapezius

Fitness level:   Advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Free weight exercises


 

Shoulder raises represent an effective exercise for the trapezius muscle, especially the upper part. In some variations the deltoid muscle will be activated as well.

Shoulder raises

Shoulder raises should not be practised by beginners. We can either workout with dumbbells, a barbell, or a curl bar in standing position. Some variations also allow the training on the cable machine.

Shoulder raises with dumbbells

For shoulder raises with dumbbells we either choose a shoulder wide stand with slightly bent knees or get in lunge position. Hold the dumbbells with tight grip and long arms on the sides of your hips. Tense the arm muscles to stabilize the elbow joints. Also tense the trunk muscles and keep your back upright. Pull up your shoulders maximally in a controlled movement. You could also perform circular motions (shoulder rotations). Here, the shoulders will be pulled upward and to the back maximally. The arms stay extended.

Shoulder raises with dumbbells

Shoulder raises with dumbbells

 

Shoulder raises with barbell

Shoulder raises with barbell work out the deltoid muscle as well. We take the same standing position. Hold the barbell or curl bar in narrow grip with both hands in front of your body. Keep your back upright and tense your trunk muscles. Pull up the bar toward the chin. The elbows pull upward to the outside. In the end position the elbows will be above our hands and the shoulders pull up maximally. The exercise can also be performed on the cable machine with the cable coming from below.

Shoulder raises with curl bar

Shoulder raises with curl bar

 


Antagonist: Chest muscles

Stretching: Upper back stretches

 

 


Shoulder presses

Shoulder presses


Muscle group:   The shoulder muscles, the chest muscles, the arm muscles

Trained muscle:   Deltoid, Chest muscles, Triceps

Focused muscle:   Deltoid

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Free weight exercises, machine exercises


 

Shoulder presses represent a very effective exercise for the front part of the deltoid muscle. Most variations also work out the chest muscles (especially the upper part), the triceps of the arm, and the upper part of the trapezius.

Shoulder presses

Shoulder presses exist in different variations. Basically we can distinguish between the front press and the neck press. Within the versions we could either work out on the machine or with free weights, like a barbell or dumbbells. Beginners should only work out on the shoulder press machine. Advanced and experienced athletes could also train on the multi press machine, racks, and with free weights.

Shoulder presses to the front

Shoulder presses to the front begin in upright sitting position. Your back rests on the back cushion of the bench. Grab the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width. The elbows point outward. Tense the trunk muscles and actively stabilize the wrists. Press the weight upward until your arms are almost extended. Lower the barbell again until your elbows have just passed shoulder height. The bar will be on the level of your mouth or nose right in front of your face.

Shoulder presses to the front on the incline bench

Shoulder presses to the front on the incline bench

 

Shoulder presses to front can also be performed sitting without back rest or in standing position. Especially here, it is important to keep the trunk muscles tensed and the pelvis erected to prevent a hollow back.

Shoulder presses to the front, free back

Shoulder presses to the front, free back

 

The exercise on the machine doesn’t require stabilization work since the resistance is moved in a fixed construction, what makes the training easier. The execution is similar.

Shoulder presses to the front on the machine

Shoulder presses to the front on the machine

 

Shoulder presses to the neck

Shoulder presses to the neck also have the same execution. But we now lower the weights toward the neck. Here, it is necessary to lean forward with the head slightly. Also keep the trunk muscles tensed and the back upright. In the lowest position the bar will be on the back of the head, but never below ear level.

Shoulder presses to the neck on the incline bench

Shoulder presses to the neck on the incline bench

 

Shoulder presses to the neck, free back

Shoulder presses to the neck, free back

 

Shoulder presses to the neck on the rack

Shoulder presses to the neck on the rack

 

For shoulder presses with dumbbells we don’t move the weights to the front or neck. The weight sits rather centered on shoulder level.

Shoulder presses with dumbbells

Shoulder presses with dumbbells

 

Also the exercise bench press trains the deltoid, especially in the incline version. In all variations of the shoulder or bench press don’t lower the bar too far. If your elbows go to far below shoulder level the pressure for the soft tissues of the shoulder joints gets to high what could cause complaints or injuries in the shoulder.


Stretching: Shoulder stretches

 

 


Flys

Flys


Muscle group:   The chest muscles, the shoulder muscles

Trained muscle:   Chest musclesDeltoid

Focused muscle:   Chest muscles

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Free weight exercises, machine exercises


 

Flys represent an effective exercise for the chest muscles. The front part of the deltoid will be trained as well in most fly variations. The exercise exists in different forms and can be practised on the fly or cable machine and with dumbbells. Here, we either choose a standing, sitting, or lying position. Beginners should only work out on the fly machine. Advanced and experienced athletes can also train on the cable machine or with dumbbells.

Flys on the machine

Flys on the machine begin in upright sitting position. The entire back touches the cushion of the back rest. Your foot hits the support lever in front of you to bring the resistance handles or cushions forward. Grab the handles actively stabilizing your wrists. The elbows never extend maximally and remain on shoulder level. Close the arms in a controlled movement. Open them again but don’t exceed the shoulder level with your elbows. On machines with resistance cushions you can have your elbows (bent at 90°) rest on the cushions. Intensify the exercise by performing small impulses in the area of highest muscle contraction (closed arms) (see best form of exercise).

Flys on the machine

Flys on the machine

 

Flys with dumbbells

Flys with dumbbells begin in lying supine position on a bench. Either have your legs rest on the floor or bench or keep them in the air. We start with extended arms right above our shoulders. In a controlled movement we lower the arms to the side on shoulder level keeping them almost entirely extended. Stop when the elbows reach shoulder hight and bring the arms back up again to complete one repetition. Small impulses at the lowest point intensify the exercise considerably.

Flys with dumbbells on the bench

Flys with dumbbells on the bench

 

Flys on the cable machine – lying

Flys on the cable machine can be exercised in standing or laying position. Lying we start in supine position on a bench. The legs either rest on the floor or bench or remain raised in the air. The cables come from below and run in one line with the shoulders. Grab the handles on the cables and actively stabilize your wrists. Your elbows never extend maximally. Keep them slightly bent. Both arms close in a controlled movement with the palms of the hands point toward the legs. Have both arms cross in front of the chest in the end position. Smoothly lower your arms again to complete one repetition. Working out in small impulses with crossed arms intensifies the exercise significantly.

Flys, lying on the cable machine

Flys, lying on the cable machine

 

Flys on the cable machine – standing

Flys on the cable machine in standing position can either be trained in shoulder-wide stand with slightly bent legs or in a short lunge. The cables come from above and run in one line with the shoulder joints. Grab the handles and stabilize the wrists actively. Tense your trunk muscles and slightly lean forward with your upper body. The back remains straight. We begin with slightly bent elbows on shoulder level. Pull your arms downward close to your body until they cross in front of your hips. The palms of your hands point toward the body. Bring them back up again to complete one repetition. Small impulses with crossed arms in front of the hips intensify the training.

Flys, standing on the cable machine

Flys, standing on the cable machine

 


Antagonist: Latissimus, Trapezius

Stretching: Chest stretches

 

 


Bench press

Bench press


Muscle group:   The chest muscles, the arm muscles, the shoulder muscles

Trained muscle:   Chest muscles, Triceps, Deltoid

Focused muscle:   Chest muscles

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Free weight exercises, machine exercises


 

Bench press is one of the basic exercises in the weight training area, together with squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups. It probably is the most popular chest exercise. It also represents a training for the triceps of the arm and the front part of the deltoid. The exercise is familiar with push-ups.

Bench press

The bench press exists in different variations. The exercise can be practised with barbell, dumbbells, or on the machine. For the training with barbell and dumbbell we can choose between different bench adjustments to work out regular or inclined bench presses. The exercise on the machine is usually practised in seated position. Beginners should only exercise machine bench pressing. Advanced and experienced athletes can practise with free weights.

Bench press basic execution

The regular bench press is performed on the flat bench with barbell. We start in supine position with the barbell right above our eyes. We can either remain with our feet on the floor, cross one leg on top of the other, or raise both from the ground. Pleas note that to prevent a hollow back it is better to lift the legs. But this requires more balance and is especially difficult with higher weights. Grab the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width and actively stabilize your wrists. Tense your trunk muscles and press your lower back onto the bench. Now lift the barbell out of the holders to have it floating on your extended arms above your shoulders. In a controlled movement lower the weight toward the chest (not the throat) performing a slight bow. Bring it back up again to complete one repetition. Working out with narrower grip increases the activation of the triceps.

Bench press on the flat bench with barbell

Bench press on the flat bench with barbell

 

Bench press – special note

Deep bench presses especially with higher weights strain the shoulder joint capsule and ligament structure significantly. The head of the bone of the upper arm (humerus) presses forward against these soft tissues when the elbow passes the shoulder level. This bears the risk of injuries. To avoid complaints and injuries it is recommended to not lower the barbell until it touches the chest. Stop a few centimetres above the chest as soon as the elbows reach shoulder level and bring it back up again. Investigations by Buskies W., Boeckh-Behrens W. (2009) showed that a training of deep bench presses doesn’t increase the effectiveness and does not lead to better strengthening or muscle building effects.

Bench press variations

Bench presses can also be performed on the incline bench with either positive or negative angle adjustment. The execution stays the same. Also the workout on the multi press machine is possible. Here, we have to perform less stabilization work since the weight bar runs in a fixed construction. Due to that the intensity decreases what allows us to work out with higher weights.

Bench press inclined

Bench press inclined

 

Bench press negative

Bench press negative

 

All versions of the bench press can also be performed with dumbbells. Here, we have to perform more stabilization work what allows us to only train with lower weights only.

Bench press with dumbbells on the flat bench

Bench press with dumbbells on the flat bench

 

Bench press with dumbbells on the incline bench

Bench press with dumbbells on the incline bench

 

Bench press on the machine

Bench pressing on the machine is performed seated. Sit upright and choose the highest seat adjustment to have your shoulders above the level of the handles (most effective). The entire back touches the back rest. Hit the support lever (if available) with your foot to bring the weight handles forward. Grab the handles actively stabilizing your wrists. Bring your elbows up toward the outside to have them in one line with your wrists and shoulders. Against the resistance you extend your arms almost completely. Bring your arms back until your elbows reach the shoulder level (not further back, see “special note” above). After the last repetition of the set bring back the weight handles using the support lever with your foot again.

Bench press on the machine

Bench press on the machine

 


Antagonist: Latissimus, Trapezius

Stretching: Chest stretches

 

 


Deadlifts

Deadlifts


Muscle group:   The back muscles, the leg muscles, the butt muscles, complex exercises

Trained muscle:   Lower back muscles, thigh front, adductors, butt muscles

Focused muscle:   Lower back muscles

Fitness level:   Advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Free weight exercises


 

Deadlifts represent one of the basic exercises within the weight training area, together with squats, bench press, and pull-ups. It is an effective exercise for the muscles of the lower back (lumbar region). At the same time it is a complex workout that additionally trains the upper part of the trapezius as well as the muscles of the buttocks, the front of the thigh, and the adductors.

Deadlifts

Deadlifts should not be practised by beginners. It not just represents an effective exercise for the mentioned muscle groups. Its motion sequence also is very similar to a back-friendly behavior in our daily life. The deadlift teaches us to lift properly. Especially the variation with dumbbell gets very close to this clean movement. The basic version of the exercise is practised with barbell.

Deadlifts with barbell

The deadlift starts in shoulder-wide or slightly wider standing position. Get as close to the barbell as possible with your shanks touching the bar. Your toes point straight to the front or slightly toward the side. Grab the bar with extended arms. For heavy weights it is reasonable to use a mixed grip. Performing deadlifts with barbell, always choose your grip to have your arms on the outsides of your knees. A wider stand requires a wider grip as well.

From this position lower your buttocks and keep your trunk upright. Look straight to the front or slightly upward. Tense your trunk muscles and especially your back and pull the weight upward with the power of your legs. Keep your back straight (slight hollow back) and the barbell close to your body (still touching the legs). Above of your knees the bar will slide up on the thighs. At the end of the motion we stand upright. Pull your shoulders slightly to the back.

Deadlifts

Deadlifts

 

Deadlifts with dumbbell

Deadlifts with dumbbell require the same body posture and motion sequence. The dumbbell stands on one side between our feet. The only difference to the deadlift with barbell is that we now have our arms between our feet. So we now choose a wider stand.

There also exists a variation of the deadlift that keeps the legs extended during the exercise. Please be careful! Here, the lower back will be strained significantly. It is not recommended to perform this version.


Antagonist: Abdominal muscles

Stretching: Lower back stretches

 

 


Hyperextensions

Hyperextensions


Muscle group:   The back muscles

Trained muscle:   Lower back muscles

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises, free weight exercises, machine exercises


 

Hyperextensions represent an effective exercise for the lower back (muscles of the lumbar spine). The lumbar region is very sensitive and many people have complaints in that area what attaches high importance to its training.

Hyperextensions

Hyperextensions exist in different variations and can be trained on the floor, bench, or machine. We can also use a specific hyperextension bench for the workout. Beginners should start with the machine exercise before they move on to other variations. When we work out hyperextensions please do not go for maximal strength. The lumbar region is extremely sensitive and should be treated with care. It is recommended to abort the exercise at a rate of perceived exertion of medium-to-hard.

Hyperextensions on the machine

Sit upright in the Hyperextension machine with both feet on the provided platform. Adjust the machine to have the rotation axis in one line with the upper part of the pelvis. The upper body leans forward keeping the back straight. Smoothly lower the resistance cushion onto your upper back. Your hands hold on to the provided handles or the seat to stabilize your body. Athletes with good body stability could cross their arms in front of the chest. Now erect the upper body into hyperextension in a controlled movement pressing the resistance cushion to the back. The reverse movement should be very smooth especially toward the lowest point. Avoid fast and sudden movements  and don’t let your upper body drop.

Hyperextensions on the machine

Hyperextensions on the machine

 

Hyperextensions on the bench

Hyperextensions on the hyperextension bench represent a classic exercise. We have different bench types that either work inclined or on the horizontal line. In both types we get in prone position and have the pelvis rest on the provided cushion. Our legs fixate under the cushion rolls. Smoothly erect your body onto the horizontal line into hyperextension. Actively tilt your pelvis to achieve a slight hollow back.

Hyperextensions on the hyperextension bench

Hyperextensions on the hyperextension bench

 

The exercise can be performed with different arm positions. The more we extend our arms to the front the more intense the workout becomes. Extra weights can also be used to intensify the training. It is also possible to choose a static hyperextension execution and combine the exercise with reverse flys.

It is recommended to already start hyperextensions with your upper body on the horizontal line and perform the exercise in very small movements into and out of the hollow back. Or even remain in hollow back position and perform small impulses (erector crunch). Here, we can keep a high muscle tension throughout the entire workout and don’t have the risk of letting the upper body drop, what would strain the lower back enormously.

Hyperextensions on a regular bench work quite similar. Here, we would have to fixate our legs under the bench or have a training partner support us. Hyperextensions on the bench (all types) also activate the muscles of the butt and the thigh backside. This is because of the stabilization work these muscles have to perform. The activation is higher with our legs on the horizontal line and lower with inclined leg position.

Hyperextensions on the bench

Hyperextensions on the bench

 

Hyperextensions on the floor

The execution of hyperextensions on the floor is similar to the exercise on the bench. Here, we work without leg fixation in small movements or even static.

Hyperextensions on the floor

Hyperextensions on the floor

 

This variation could be combined with lying back leg lifts. To make the training more diverse we could work with different tools, like a ball. Here, we achieve an additional activation of the muscles of the upper back.

Hyperextensions in combination

Hyperextensions in combination

 

Hyperextensions with ball

Hyperextensions with ball

 


Antagonist: Abdominal muscles

Stretching: Lower back stretches

 

 


Rowing

Rowing


Muscle group:   The back muscles, the shoulder muscles

Trained muscle:   Latissimus, Trapezius, deltoid, middle back muscles

Fitness level:   Beginner, advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises, free weight exercises, machine exercises


 

Rowing represents an effective exercise for the latissimus muscle. It also works out the trapezius, the middle part of the erector spinae, and the back part of the deltoid. Also the biceps of the upper arm an the brachioradialis of the forearm will be activated when we row.

Rowing

Rowing can be performed in many different variations. There are many machines specifically for rows, but we also could work out at the cable machine. Furthermore we can work out with a barbell or dumbbells in standing, kneeling, or lying position. All these variations make the training quite diverse.

Rowing on the machine

Rows on specific rowing machines can already be performed by beginners. Such machines provide a good stabilization of the body and support an upright position due to the chest cushion we lean against. Please note, that the workout with high weights can cause uncomfortable pressures on the chest. Sit upright and lean against the chest cushion. Tense the musculature of the trunk and especially your back muscles actively. In controlled movements you start to pull the handles toward the body. In the reverse movement don’t extend your arms completely.

Rowing on different machines

Rowing on different machines

 

For all rowing variations the workout with both arms close on the sides of the body activates the latissimus significantly. The further we lift our elbows toward shoulder hight, the less the latissimus and the more the trapezius, the middle part of the erector spinae, and the back part of the deltoid will work. The variation with raised elbows is very similar to the exercise reverse flys. All versions could be intensified if worked out in small impulses in the area of highest muscle tension when the arms are pulled backward maximally (please see best form of exercise).

Rows on the cable machine shouldn’t be practised by beginners. Sit upright tensing your trunk muscles tightly. Because of the missing chest rest we have to do a lot of stabilization work. In the beginning we sit close to the cable with our feet on the platform in front of us. Grab the handle and slide backward in a controlled movement. Keep your knees at least slightly bent. Row backward smoothly against the resistance with both arms close on the sides of your body. Again, don’t extend the arms completely in the reverse movement. At the end of a set release the weight with straight body posture. Do never drop the weights in a sudden or uncontrolled movement.

Rowing on the cable machine

Rowing on the cable machine

 

Rowing with free weights

Rowing with dumbbell kneeling on the bench is very effective for the latissimus. Rest with the forearm and shank of the same side of the body on the bench. Set the standing leg diagonally to the side onto the floor to stabilize your body optimally. In that position we grab the dumbbell and row backward with the arm close to the body. The back of our hand either points backward or to the side. Do not extend your arm completely in the reverse movement.

Rowing, one-armed on the bench

Rowing, one-armed on the bench

 

With barbell we could either work out rows lying or standing. Lying in prone position on the bench is the more stable version. Your head remains free above the upper end of the bench. Your legs pull upward to prevent a hollow back. You can fixate them on the foot of the bench. Working out with wide grip (back of our hand points to the front) focuses on the trapezius, the middle part of the erector spinae, and the back part of the deltoid. A narrow grip (back of our hand points backward) especially activates the latissimus. Lift the barbell maximally in a controlled movement. Bring it back down to complete one repetition but don’t extend your arms completely.

Rowing, on the bench with barbell

Rowing, on the bench with barbell

 

Rowing standing with barbell additionally activates the lower part of the back (muscles of the lumbar region) significantly. The execution is quite challenging so solely experienced athletes should practise standing rows with barbell. We stand slightly wider than shoulder width bending our knees a little bit. The trunk leans forward. Tense your abdominals tightly and keep your back straight. Also tense the back muscles and pull the barbell toward the body in a controlled movement. Bring it back down smoothly to complete one repetition. Don’t extend your arms completely.

Rowing, standing

Rowing, standing

 

With wide grip (back of your hand points to the front) you pull the weight toward the chest. With narrow grip and the back of your hands pointing backward you pull it toward the stomach.

Rowing without equipment

There also exists an isometric rowing variation that is exercised without any equipment. We sit upright on a chair, bench, or the floor. Our hands grab the knees right below the joints in a surrounding grip. Our body leans forward and our arms start to pull backward building up strong muscle tensions in the back. Increase the tension until you have reached a decent training intensity. Avoid press breathing (exhalation against closed airways). This version can also be practised on a machine. Here, you pull a weight you can’t overcome.

Rowing isometric

Rowing isometric


Antagonist: Chest muscles

Stretching: Lat stretches, Upper back stretches

 

 


Lat pulldown

Lat pulldown


Muscle group:   The back muscles, the arm muscles

Trained muscle:   Latissimus, biceps, forearm

Focused muscle:   Latissimus

Fitness level:   Beginner; advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Machine exercises


 

Lat pulldown represents a very popular exercise for the latissimus muscle. It also works out the brachioradialis of the forearm and the biceps of the upper arm. The exercise is familiar with the pull-ups.

Lat pulldown

Lat pulldown is typically performed on the cable machine. But there also are lat pulldown machines without cable that can be used. The motion sequence and execution don’t change among the different machines. But there is quite a large variety of different handles we can use and positions we can take to work out.

The classic lat pulldown is executed to the neck. We take an upright position and fixate our legs with the provided cushion from above. If you can adjust the seat it is quite comfortable to have the knees slightly below or in one line with the hips. Sit close to the machine so that the cable is running down straightly. Grab the bar widely with the back of your hands pointing backward. In a controlled movement you pull down the bar to your neck (head bends forward). The bar can smoothly touch your neck but not hit it hardly. Bring it back up but don’t extend your arms completely. The passive structure of the arms would be strained considerably in complete extension. Also, it would deactivate the latissimus what is not desirable during the lat workout.

Lat pulldown variations

Lat pulldown variations

 

Lat pulldown machine

Lat pulldown machine

 

Lat pulldown to the chest

Lat pulldown can also be practised to the chest. The execution stays the same. We now have to lean a little backward pressing the chest outward. Be careful with your back. Keep your abdominal muscles tensed and avoid a hollow back.

Another variation of the lat pulldown is when we lean even further back. Here, we can chosse a narrower grip with the front of our hands pointing toward the body. Press your chest outward. Pull the bar down toward your chest with your arms close on the sides of your body. In this version you have to stabilize your body a lot. Don’t work with momentum at all. Keep the muscles of your trunk tensed.

Latzug mit verschiedenen Griffen

Latzug mit verschiedenen Griffen

 

Lat pulldown variations

Performing lat pulldown we can also choose between different handles. The range extends from narrow to wide grips with different hand alignments. But we could also work out with imaginary resistance. We sit on a chair, bench or the ground and imagine a bar or handle in our hands with high resistance. Move your hands up and down according to the execution described above. Tense all muscles of the trunk and focus on your latissimus. You could also choose other hand positions as explained above.

Lat pulldown with imaginary resistance

Lat pulldown with imaginary resistance

 

All variations of the lat pulldown become extremely intense when we work out in small impulses in the area of highest muscle tension (handle bar pulled down) as described here: Best form of exercise


Antagonist: Chest muscles, triceps

Stretching: Lat stretches