Building a sexy and strong back will not only improve your posture, it will also create a slender and lean look. That's all good but why do I really care about your back?
Mostly because a majority of people - no matter how active - have limited mobility through their thoracic spine - mid-to-upper back. Most people carry tension in their neck and shoulders which increases the likelihood of pain and injury. I want to bring awareness to this part of your body and show you how to implement steps to help improve posture, create a healthy, flexible spine, and progress to mastering a pull up.
We'll start with a very effective, yet underrated exercise - scap retracts - to increase range of motion and open up your shoulders and upper back. Your scaps are a postural muscle which means they aren't used for lifting but are used to maintain posture and balance. It's why you want to make sure you have mobility through your scaps and to properly warm them up prior to heavy lifting.
It's also why - even if you're not into working out in the ways we're demonstrating - you should use scap retracts and face pulls to maintain healthy posture and mobility. Heck, you can even do these at your desk to keep posture from getting sloppy due to long hours sitting. But humor me and stand up to do them!
Unpacked and Packed Shoulders - What Does This Mean?
Scap retracts and face pulls help open up your back and shoulders and are highly important before the next exercise. Otherwise you'll end up heaving your way up to the bar and that's not pretty. Hanging onto whatever muscle you can get a line of pull on can leave you stuck in your shoulders (anterior delts) and result in hyper-extension of your lumbar spine. Tamar Rosenfeld, Certified Instructor and Owner of Studio T demonstrates unpacked shoulders - a.k.a bricking, heaving, getting stuck - and healthy packed shoulders. By starting with packed shoulders, you'll be able to raise vertically into a scap and full pull-up.
Who knew working out could be so intricate - advancing exercises is all about your bodies ability to problem solve by integrating movements that require balance, weight shift, stability, control, flexibility and strength working together.
Unpacked & Packed Shoulders
Know your partner's habits and try to anticipate when they will break from form. You want to be ahead of them so they never break. The less you break from form practicing, the better you will become over time.
Partner Training - your partner is responsible for knowing the form too. If you can't find a knowledgeable partner, please reach out to me for some Private training sessions on form.
My Buddy & Me
Sitting at the computer all week, our backs and shoulders get stiff and tight. We can compensate for our computer lifestyle with daily training movements. This sequence works to open up backs and shoulders - and improve pull-up form too. The first part of the sequence is essential for everyone, regardless of fitness level, to maintain a healthy upper back and posture. Use the full sequence for ensuring your pull-ups are a highly effective training movement for back strength and athletic power.
Recap, Reps and Resistance