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Get a V-Taper With Lat Pulldowns

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The somewhat elusive “V” shape taper is one of the hallmark characteristics of an outstanding athletic physique. This taper arises from a wide upper back that narrows to small, tight and narrow hips and waist. Most of us are not gifted with such a structure, but with some concentration on the upper back, it is still possible to achieve this V-taper, even if your hips are not particularly narrow.

V-Taper Muscles

The fibers of the latissimus dorsi muscle extend from the lower thoracic vertebrae and the iliac crest of the hip, to converge on the upper portion of the humerus bone of the upper arm near the shoulder. The fibers in the latissimus dorsi muscle have several different angles of pull, depending on which part of the bones the fibers attach. When they act together, the latissimus extends the humerus by pulling the upper arm backward and adducting the humerus by bringing the arm toward the center of the body. The lower part of the latissimus dorsi muscle has a direct line of pull when the shoulder is flexed and the upper arm is raised to above a line that is parallel to the floor. Working with the arms directly over the head tends to activate the middle and lower parts of the muscle more effectively.

The teres major muscle provides most of the width of the upper back near the axilla (armpit). It begins on the inferior angle of the scapula (shoulder blade), and it is anchored on the humerus bone very near the attachment site of the latissimus dorsi. Similar to the latissimus dorsi, it extends the humerus when the arm starts in a flexed position (i.e., with the arm forward). Because it begins on the scapula (shoulder blade), it is more completely activated with the arms stretched directly overhead. Therefore, the wide-grip pulldown is perfectly suited to activate this muscle.

The teres minor is really one of the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder, but it makes up part of the upper back musculature. It is located just above the teres major muscle and provides the last bit of width in the axilla, just below the shoulder joint. The teres minor begins on the upper part of the lateral border of the scapula bone. It anchors on the inferior part of the greater tubercle of the humerus (the larger bump near the head of the humerus). Contraction of the teres minor rotates the humerus laterally, and similar to other muscles in the rotator cuff, the teres minor helps to stabilize the shoulder joint. Finally, it helps to pull the arm backward into extension, which is its primary role in wide-grip lat pulldowns.

Wide-Grip Lat Bar Pulldowns

Pulldowns on the lat machine stress the extension and abduction functions of the humerus. The extension of the humerus activates the latissimus dorsi and the teres major, teres minor, as well as part of the pectoralis and deltoid muscles.

1. Take a wide, pronated grip (palms facing away from your face) on the lat pulldown bar. Each hand should be about six inches wider than the corresponding shoulder. If you choose an even wider grip, you will improve the stretch of the teres major and minor, and this may assist in developing some additional upper back width. Many studies have shown that muscle stretch under resistance will induce muscle hypertrophy and thickness, so having a wide grip is important. However, the latissimus dorsi may not shorten as much during each contraction with extremely wide hand positions. If you want a good upper back width and good tie-ins to the latissimus at the axilla, then stick with the wide grip; if you are after overall latissimus dorsi development, then a narrower grip may better suit your needs.

2. Sit in the chair of the lat pulldown machine and position the thigh-stabilizing pad across the anterior section of the middle region of both thighs, above the knees. The pad should fit snugly on the thighs and prevent your body from lifting from the seat when doing the exercise.

3. Pull the bar down to the top of the chest as you exhale. Make sure your head is pulled backward enough to avoid a collision of your chin with the bar. As the bar is approaching your chest, arch the upper back slightly while you draw your elbows back as far as possible. The extra arch will increase the elbow movement and this will more fully activate the teres muscles by increasing the range of motion.

4. Hold the lat bar at the chest level and squeeze the scapula together for two to three seconds. This position emphases the arm extension, and the squeeze (abduction) functions will fatigue the upper back muscles quickly.

5. Slowly return the bar to the starting position over your head as you inhale. Keep tension on the muscles by preventing the weight stack that you are lifting from touching the remaining stack at the top of the movement.

6. Pause two to three seconds at the top of the movement. The upper back muscles will be fully stretched in this position. Do not allow the weight to “jerk” your shoulders upward at the end of each repetition, otherwise you may overstretch the rotator cuff muscles and destabilize your shoulders. After this stretch-pause, continue to the next repetition by pulling the bar to the chest and repeat the rest of the set in the same manner.

The stretch-pause at the top of each repetition will quickly transform a good, basic exercise into a superb exercise for building upper back width. The wide-grip lat pulldown directly targets and provides greater width to the top part of your “V.” With persistence, your upper back will widen enough to force you to do some wardrobe shopping to properly fit your enhanced V-taper. And this summer, your new wider back-to-hip taper may cause more than a few heads to turn at the beach.

 

References:

Moore KL and AF Dalley II. Clinical Orientated Anatomy. Fourth Edition. Williams & Willkins, Baltimore, 1999 691-720.

Inoue T, Suzuki S, Hagiwara R, Iwata M, Banno Y, Okita, M. Effects of passive stretching on muscle injury and HSP expression during recovery after immobilization in rats. Pathobiology, 76:253-259; 2009.

Snyder BJ, Leech JR. Voluntary increase in latissimus dorsi muscle activity during the lat pull-down following expert instruction. J Strength Cond Res, 23:2204-2209; 2009.

Tanimoto M, Sanada K, Yamamoto K, Kawano H, Gando Y, Tabata I, Ishii N, Miyachi, M. Effects of whole-body low-intensity resistance training with slow movement and tonic force generation on muscular size and strength in young men. J Strength Cond Res, 22:1926-1938; 2008.

Lehman GJ, Buchan DD, Lundy A, Myers N and Nalborczyk A. Variations in muscle activation levels during traditional latissimus dorsi weight training exercises: An experimental study. Dyn Med, 3: 4, 2004.

Signorile JF, Zink AJ and Szwed SP. A comparative electromyographical investigation of muscle utilization patterns using various hand positions during the lat pull-down. J Strength Cond Res, 16: 539-546, 2002.

The post Get a V-Taper With Lat Pulldowns appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.

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5 Exercises for a Stronger Lower Back (Demo Videos)

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Strengthen your lower back with these five workouts. Two of them require equipment. Watch demonstration videos to learn how to perform them.

If you work a desk job, drive often, or sit a lot for other reasons, the strain this puts on your lower back can cause stiffness and aches. Other than stretching and performing aerobic exercises to get your body moving between sits, it’s likely you also need to strengthen those muscles.

But, if you struggle from chronic, debilitating back pain, please see a trusted chiropractor, physical therapist, or other spine specialist who can assess whether your back muscles are compensating for an underlying joint issue. Before you try the following lower back exercises, please clear them with your specialist.

Sign up for our annual Pro plan, where it’s simple to log workouts like these and view your progress!

#1 – Bird Dog

The bird dog is an exercise you’ve likely done in a yoga or Pilates class before. It focuses on the diagonal positioning of your body, which means that you simultaneously move one arm forward while moving the opposite leg backward. Make sure you tighten your core while doing this move. You’ll also feel this one in your traps, shoulders, hamstrings, glutes, and abs.

#2 – Superman

Another calisthenics and Pilates exercise is the superman. To strengthen your lower back with this workout, lift up your chest, arms, and legs while lying on your stomach. You can “fly” side-to-side to pretend you’re the cape-draped superhero, or you can remain stationary. Pretending to fly is more fun, but either way, your glutes and “hammies” will also thank you for this exercise.

#3 – Pilates Swimming

Pilates swimming is like the bird dog and superman workouts combined. Lie on your stomach, lift your chest, arms, and legs, and simultaneously move one arm with the opposite leg; then switch. Pick up the pace to get a cardio boost!

You’ll feel this one in several different muscles groups, including the abs. After all, an important part of strengthening the lower back involves stronger abs. They’re connected and support each other.

#4 – Back Extension

The back extension requires the back-extension station at your local gym. If your spine specialist has approved this type of bendy workout, please perform it carefully. Cross your arms over your chest, and bend at the waist. Don’t over-arch your back when you pull yourself up. Your glutes, hamstrings, and abs also favor the back extension.

#5 – Weighted Back Extension

Hold a weight plate over your chest for the weighted back extension. Unlike the previous workout, you’ll start with a lower bend and pull up to where your chest is parallel to the floor. Your hamstrings and lower back (obviously) will feel the most impact. Again, please make sure this exercise is doctor-approved, especially since there’s more than bodyweight involved. If you feel pain, stop.

 
Track your lower back progress and more when you sign up for our annual Pro plan. With our advanced stats in a convenient app, it’s never been easier to stay motivated and meet your fitness goals!

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Rubber Band Theory of Personality (Are you Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?)

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Our personalities are flexible…but only to a point. Knowing yourself will help you as you chart your path to success. Set aside time to try new things outside of your comfort zone. Susan Cain wrote a powerful book that has resonated with hundreds of thousands of people — Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

In a team meeting, we discussed this selection from Quiet:

“We can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead. A sizable part of who we are is ordained by our genes, by our brains, by our nervous systems. And yet the elasticity that Schwartz found in some of the high-reactive teens also suggests the converse: we have free will and can use it to shape our personalities.

These seem like contradictory principles, but they are not. Free will can take us far, suggests Dr. Schwartz’s research, but it cannot carry us infinitely beyond our genetic limits. Bill Gates is never going to be Bill Clinton, no matter how he polishes his social skills, and Bill Clinton can never be Bill Gates, no matter how much time he spends alone with a computer.

We might call this the ‘rubber band theory’ of personality. We are like rubber bands at rest. We are elastic and can stretch ourselves, but only so much.”

Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs

Let’s make this practical. Check out the way Bill Gates and the team from Microsoft tried to pump up the crowd for the release of Windows 95:

Now politics aside, you can’t question that Bill Clinton could command a room. However, for an even more apples-to-apples comparison, let’s look at the way Steve Jobs works a crowd.

This video shows the product launch for the original iPhone. It’s long but just watch the first few minutes:

Both of these men are brilliant in their respective fields but these videos show the drastic differences in their personality. Steve Jobs was comfortable commanding a room with the sheer anticipation of the product creating excitement.

Bill Gates, on the other hand, didn’t look comfortable in that same settings and struggled to describe his product with words that illicit the same kind of atmosphere Jobs set.

Train Anyone, Anywhere in the World. How far will your personality stretch?

Honestly evaluate your own personality.

These are important things to know as you chart your path to success. How can we reconcile the tension between playing to our strengths/using our gifts and stretching ourselves outside of our comfort zone?

Now that’s even tougher question. How can you maximize your strengths and gifting while also not crippling yourself by never stretching outside your comfort zone?

If you never sat down and thought about that, we recommend doing so. What works best for everyone will vary but we recommend setting aside time for activities that are outside of your comfort zone.

You might be surprised to find an activity that with a little nurturing turns into a strength.

If you do some further digging for more recent Microsoft events, you can easily spot that Bill Gates has spent time developing his on-stage presence. He’s still not in the Bill Clinton or Steve Jobs stratosphere, but he’s definitely developed his voice.

Susan Cain Talks Quiet

Take a few minutes and watch Susan’s TED Talk about her book.

No matter your personality, you need a team that shares your values and vision. We’re passionate about growing your business. Schedule your demo today!

Yes, let’s talk about how I can grow my business to train anyone, anywhere in the world!

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How to Game Plan for Change (Real World Tips!)

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Surviving isn’t just for hikers; it’s for when your circumstances change. “The most successful are open to the changing nature of their environment.” Having a game plan for changing circumstances is critical for survival. One of our recent team meetings centered on how to survive being lost as explained in Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales.

The extreme unpredictability of nature carries a lot of parallels to operating your own business.

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out…

BAM!

Something unexpected comes along and you’re left out of sorts and scrambling to survive!

5 Stages of Being Lost

Here are the 5 Stages of Being Lost:

You’re disoriented but continue to “push through it.” You start to realize that you’re lost and get a little frazzled. You desperately search for any scrap of evidence to match what you think is going on! You start to break down rationally and emotionally. This is NOT good. You accept your lost condition and resolve to start fresh from where you are.

A lot of people tend to get stuck in steps one to four and never make it to step five. Unfortunately, those are not survivors.

Instead, the best thing you can do is get to step 5 as quickly as you can be recognizing your limits and focusing on your new reality:

Stop → Observe → Think → Plan → Act

“The most successful are open to the changing nature of their environment.”

Here are the Survival Rules for Life to help you out in any bind – whether you’re stuck on a snowy mountaintop or in the middle of a business breakdown:

Be here now – Develop an appreciation for full engagement with what’s in front of you. Know the limits of your experience – Just because something has worked in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t need to innovate in the future. Adaptability is key – You have to plan in order to be successful, but be ready to let go of your plan and adjust your course as you perceive changes in your environment.

Check out more about Deep Survival. The next time you’re caught off guard, how are you going to dig in and observe your situation so you can put together a new game plan and take decisive action?

New Exercise.com for Business Features UX Improvements Updated handling of changes made on Customize Platform tab Updated handling of changes made to Group pages Updated display of images on landing pages Added Equipment to Exercise fields Updated display of “Logged Workout” alerts Updated display of Profile pages Updated display of Exercise finder Updated display of “Client Cancelled” alerts Updated display of Automated Notifications page Updated handling of Alternate Exercises in Workout Plan Creator Updated display of “About Trainer” section on landing pages Updated handling of Thank You pages Updated app marketing assets for Exercise.com Train Anyone, Anywhere in the World. Coming Soon Block Programming Client Calendar Updates

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