When you do a resistance exercise, do you simply try to move the resistance from point A to point B . . . or do you focus the effort into the muscle(s) targeted? If you’re not focusing the effort into specific muscles, you’re missing a lot. Allow me to explain how to begin doing this.
In order to illustrate this, I’ll pick an exercise that is commonly performed and show you how to get more out of it. Lat pulldowns are routinely done in gyms across the U.S. The vast majority of people I have watched are simply trying to pull the bar down to “somewhere around chin level” and then allow the weight to quickly pull their arms back overhead. The effort isn’t focused on any muscle or muscle group, and the arms often end up becoming the prime movers for this movement. Your biceps are much smaller than your lats, and they will give out first ending the set. This means your back won’t receive the work you had planned for it. Most “gym goers” don’t realize this, don’t care as long as it’s getting done, and haven’t noticed that their back looks virtually the same as it did when they began training. YOU CAN DO BETTER.
I often begin by incorporating an isolation exercise for the lats prior to the pulldowns to temporarily render them fatigued enough that the arms will not be a limiting factor. Secondly, I instruct my clients to concentrate intentionally on pulling the shoulders back and down when pulling the bar down and reverse that on the way up. I also tell them to attempt to drive their elbows into their sides during the movement.
My clients have heard me say, “pull your shoulder blades together” and, ” drive your elbows into your sides” many, many times. It probably can become annoying – especially when you thought you were done 3 reps ago! I also instruct them to “think of your arms as hooks” — not the movers of the weight, just the attachment TO the weight. Finally, I usually will touch the tips of the middle 3 fingers of my hands on their working lats during the exercise. This is known as “cueing” and is done to help clients focus directly on the muscles they are supposed to be using as the primer movers for this exercise.
When I practice these procedures during pulldowns, the effort is usually felt in the lats, and the results begin to manifest themselves soon after. When I decided to write this article, deciding on which exercise to illustrate was like picking an ice cream flavor at Baskin-Robbins — there are so many to choose from. Many exercises lend themselves to this practice, but most people don’t know about it and, of those, very few ever use it and reap the benefits. My clients do and you can be one of those who learn the safest and most effective techniques around by contacting me. I stand ready to help!
Dave – Your Harford County, Maryland Personal Fitness Trainer
Results are what you’ll get when you train with me. I’m conveniently located in Forest Hill near the center of Harford County, Maryland. Clients come to me from Fallston, Jarrettsville, Bel Air, Forest Hill and Baltimore. I’ve got the experience, the ability, the knowledge and the success stories of my students to testify that my training is result driven and result based. Visit my webpage for more information.