Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind...How's Your Back Looking?

Hey Chicago!

A lot of times we neglect what we don’t see, for instance, our back. Our backs are probably the most crucial body part to keep healthy, especially as we age, but most of us tend to forget to do a lot of back work because we don’t spend all day looking at it in the mirror. So I wanted to remind you how important it is to implement a good back routine into your fitness regiment and give you a few pointers on one particular exercise I often see it being performed with improper technique. .

Today’s exercise is the Lat Pulldown:

lat pulldown.jpg

Lat Pulldowns are a great exercise to help strengthen your mid and upper back and obviously crucial to an over-all healthy body. This exercise is particularly good for helping build and strengthen the lats, and for the guys, it helps give them a more “V” shape look. For the ladies a strong back is critically important for many reasons, good posture, prevents injury and if you have children or are looking to have children, a strong back is necessary to help aid in the numerous daily activities that involve being a mom.

So, the exercise itself is great but there are some common mistakes I see people making in the gym everyday, below are three things that I want you to avoid while performing a lat pulldown:

  1. Pulling the bar down behind your head
    • Pulling the bar behind your head can eventually cause pain,
      tightness and even injury to the shoulder joint. Ergonomically, the shoulder joint is not made to rotate in that manner while a heavy load is being placed on it. It also will exacerbate what
      is called “foreword head posture”. Pulling the bar down behind your head forces you to push your head
      forward to get the bar behind it, this causes the muscles in the front of the neck to become over-developed and stretches out the muscles in the back of the neck, which can cause your head to constantly protrude forward.
  1. Pulling the bar down with your upper trap muscles, not your lats
    • As you pull the bar down, try to get your shoulders down and
      away from
      your years, do not start with your shoulders pinned against your ears as you begin the motion. If you do, you
      will not be engaging the lats, you will be pulling down with your
      shoulders and upper trap. This can cause over-development in your
      upper traps and the front of your shoulders and cause the shoulders to
      round forward. Part of having good posture is working on keeping your
      shoulders down. If you have over-developed front shoulders and upper traps, your shoulders will end up rounding forward. Also, if your front shoulders are much more over-developed than the back of your shoulders, you will have instability in the shoulder joint. 
  2. Pulling the bar down lower than your chin
    • As with #2 above, this motion will cause you to engage the front part of the shoulder and will negate the use of the lats to pull the bar down. Once the bar drops below the chin, you have to engage the front part of the shoulder to get it down any further. Again, this will also cause the
      shoulders to round forward and make it difficult to maintain proper posture and maintain a stable shoulder joint if a good amount of rear shoulder work is not being performed.

The form on the lat pull-down should be as such:

  • Your hands should be just wider than shoulder width apart on the bar.
  • Sitting straight up with only a natural arch in your back. Do not over-arch the lower back
  • Pull the bar down as your shoulders stay down and back.
  • Pull the bar down in front of your face until the bar reaches your chin.
  • Slowly allow the bar to return to the starting position with arms extended.

If you’ve been using proper form, then these were tips you already know, if not, try this exercise again with the form prescribed above and see if you can feel a difference.

Have a great day Chicago!


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