Do your shoulders hurt?
Do you sit slouched in front of a computer monitor?
Yes and yes? Well then you need to be strengthening the postural muscles of your upper back. However, since you can’t flex them in front of a mirror, most people end up neglecting them, letting their posture devolve into something closer to resembling the fetal position. It’s not too late to make a change!
Enter the suspension trainer – TRX, blast straps or rings would all do the trick. I bought my straps from EliteFTS. The suspension trainer is an incredilby versatile tool – you can switch between muscle groups and movements with just a positional change of your body. I especially love the suspension trainer for training the upper back muscles of the scapula and the small but crucial muscles of the rotator cuff.
1. Grab the handles of the suspension trainer and walk out until the cables are taught.
2. Walk your feet back to the starting position, while keeping your body leaning backwards. Keep the suspension trainer taught. The steeper the angle of your body, the harder the exercise will be.
3. Squeeze your butt, take a breath of air, then breathe out slightly while tensing your abdominals. Hold this tension for the duration of the exercise.
4. Pull your shoulder blades back, squeezing them together, while simultaneously forming a “T” with your arms.
5. Keep your arms straight during the movement.
6. Return back to the starting position, making sure you reach your arms towards the anchor point of the suspension trainer, spreading apart your upper back.
Fault – Overextended lumbar spine/rib cage flair
Correction – Squeeze the glutes, maintain tension in your core muscles
Fault – Failing to retract scapula
Correction – Think about squeezing a coin between your shoulder blades. Squeeze your shoulder blades together for 10 seconds right before grabbing the handles to groove the motor pattern
Fault – Locking the scapula into retraction
Correction – Think about reaching with your arms in the finish position, feeling a stretch in your upper back. This extra stretch makes sure that you aren’t neglecting scapula movement.
I like to use the movement one of three ways: either as a part of a warm-up complex, as a part of a back finisher, or as a super-set paired with a pressing exercise like bench press. This exercise (and the suspension implement) makes it very easy to combine with other back movements in quick succession. The nature of the suspension trainer also means you can’t load it up as much as a barbell, so you will have to do a higher volume of work in order to achieve a training effect. Stick in between 10-20 reps, as long as your form doesn’t suffer.
Scapula – rhomboids, trapezius
Shoulder – rear deltoid, infraspinatus, teres minor
Mulligan Fitness and Hylete.com
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