How to improve your exercise execution and posture in the process! May 22, 2017

Do you know why you are doing an exercise? Or even why you are executing an exercise in a certain way?

Take the lat pull down, there are many different variations for performing this exercise (grip, handle, tempo, weight, torso position) and it can get confusing to know how to program progressions and regressions if you don't understand why you are doing it in the first place.

Today I just want to focus on the simple variation of scapular retraction on each pull (first video) as opposed to constant retraction (second video). So why might you use one variation over the other?

Use Scapular Retraction On Each Rep:

  • If you new to the gym. This movement, although natural to any gym goer who has a decent training age, is a very unnatural movement to most of the general population. The simple act of retracting the shoulder blades towards each other might seem easy in theory, but for most anterior dominant people it is an extremely difficult movement pattern to execute.
  • If you feel any pulling exercise in the gym (such as this) in your arms. It is common for beginners in the gym to feel pulling movements in their arms because they are concentrating on the movement (pulling the arm down or back) as opposed to the muscles doing the work on the back. By performing a scapular retraction on each rep it enables the you to increase mind-muscle connection and recruit the back more effectively.
  • You have poor posture. The simple act of scapular retraction will enable you to keep your shoulders down and chest open which can help with some back pain and stiffness in the neck.
  • If you have a shoulder injury/impingement or find one side of your upper body is weaker than the other. Scapular retraction can help to build up the lagging side (if performed unilaterally).

Don't use Scapular Retraction if you:

  • Already have the ability to scapular retract!
  • Your goal is Time Under Tension (for example for bodybuilders or fat loss). This is because you will work your back muscles more by holding your scapulars retracted for the whole set than resetting on each pull.

Give it a go and see if you can feel the difference :)