Monday, September 27, 2010

Pull With Your Back

As coaches, we strive to achieve the maximum benefit for our athletes in the shortest period of time. Often, we see athletes performing an exercise correctly but not receiving the outcomes they should. Perhaps, this lack of outcome stems from the lack of appropriate focus on the performance of the exercise. For me, one of those exercises is the Lat Pulldown / Pull-Up exercise.

The primary muscles that are engaged during this exercise are the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, teres major, and the lower trapezius. Their function is to adduct the arm and draw it closer to the pelvis. During the throwing motion, these muscles act as large decelerators to counteract the distraction forces at the glenohumeral joint. The muscles of the hand /forearm flexors, as well as, the biceps brachii are considered secondary movers during the Lat Pulldown exercise.

One of the common mistakes that I notice when athletes perform this exercise is that they over-emphasize their grip and as a result pull down using the smaller muscles of the arms. As I mentioned, the primary focus should be placed on the larger musculature of the back. Using mental cues can improve the mind-body connection. When coaching these athletes, I find it helpful to use the mental cue, “Pull with your back!” to emphasize the proper performance of the Lat Pulldown exercise. This will make an immediate impact in the technique by locking your “lats” into activation. To check this technique, the coach can place his hands on the athlete’s shoulder blades and feel that the pulldown movement is being initiated by their depression and retraction.

Focusing on the proper muscular activation while performing a movement can help to insure maximum benefits are achieved. “Pull with your back!” can be used for any exercise that requires the large upper back muscles to perform (i.e. seated row, bent-over row, etc).

David Yeager, ATC, CSCS

1 comment:

  1. The Pull-Up exercise is a great exercise for developing the bicep muscle. The problem with pull-ups is that most people don’t have the strength to do them correctly or with full range of motion. The Push-Up Bench can be used to do assisted Pull-Ups.