Back & Lat Exercises
Excellent exercise for teaching the body how to engage the core while simultaneously working the lats and upper back. This exercise also re-enforces strict rowing technique as any cheating, excessive momentum, or excessive rotation will cause you to lose your balance.
Great rowing variation for reinforcing proper positioning from head to toe. Keep your stomach in, chest out, head packed, feet dorsiflexed (pulled towards head), and body completely straight. Focus on keeping the shoulders pulled, back, down, and in by keeping elbows tucked.
Eccentric Isometrics offer numerous benefits in terms of muscle function, strength, stability, mobility, symmetrical loading, and hypertrophy. This video was part of featured article on T-Nation.com.
Eccentric Isometrics offer numerous benefits in terms of muscle function, strength, stability, mobility, symmetrical loading, and hypertrophy. This video was part of a featured article on T-Nation.com.
My client and national figure competitor Leslie demonstrating a variation of the inverted row that few men let alone a female masters athlete can do. Focus on driving the opposite arm and opposite leg up as you row in order to stabilize and fire the appropriate contralateral muscles.
My client Leslie (national level masters figure competitor and powerlifter) performing rack pulls with 315 at a bodyweight of just over 120 pounds. Rack pulls are great for adding mass and strength to the entire posterior chain especially the upper back.
Dr. Seedman explains how to perform the bent-over row with Rapid Eccentric Isometrics, an advanced proprietary training technique developed by Dr. Joel Seedman to increase proprioceptive feedback from muscle spindles with the goal of improving performance and muscle function.
Dr. Seedman explains how to perform the pull-up with Rapid Eccentric Isometrics, an advanced proprietary training technique developed by Dr. Joel Seedman to increase proprioceptive feedback from muscle spindles with the goal of improving performance and muscle function.
Dr. Seedman explains how to perform the db pullover with Rapid Eccentric Isometrics, an advanced proprietary training technique developed by Dr. Joel Seedman to increase proprioceptive feedback from muscle spindles with the goal of improving performance and muscle function.
This is an example of using compensatory acceleration (maximal concentric lifting speed) with lighter loads. This technique is excellent for increasing power and explosive movement. Focus on staying as controlled and tight as possible while using maximal lifting speed on the pull.
The Single Arm lat pulldown is a great variation for targeting each lat unilaterally (individually). It also allows for slightly greater range of motion than the standard lat pulldown. Rotate into a pronated (overhand grip) at the top and supinated (underhand) at the bottom.
This is a simple yet effective rowing variation for targeting the entire mid, upper, and lower back muscles. Keep perfect posture and spinal alignment throughout. Start with the hands in an overhand (pronated) position and gradually rotate into a supinated (underhand) position as you row towards your body.
The single arm bent over row is an excellent lat and back exercise that simultaneously work rotary stability and anti-rotation muscles of the core. Keep the spine locked into position throughout and avoiding over-pulling at the top.
This variation on single arm bent over row adds an excellent core component that works rotary stability and anti-rotation muscles of the core. Keep the spine locked into position throughout and avoiding over-pulling at the top.
Here's one of my clients performing a lying dumbbell row. This is an excellent exercise for targeting the entire back and stimulating strength and mass gains. It's also great for correcting posture and spinal alignment.
Single Leg Bent Over Barbell Rows are very difficult yet very effective for working the entire posterior chain starting from head to toe. Every muscle in the back, glutes, and hamstrings have to work overtime to control the load.
This is one of the most difficult rowing exercises you'll ever perform. Not only does it crush the entire posterior chain from head to toe but its also great for correcting technique and eliminating momentum. The Hanging Band Technique (HBT) further increases the difficulty of the movement as it requires greater stabilization, proprioceptive feedback (from muscle spindle activation) and sensory integrated movement.
The incline renegade row is a slightly easier variation or regression of the standard renegade row from the floor. Use this movement to master your technique and mechanics before moving to the floor version.
Here's one of my athletes and competitive powerlifter/bodybuilder performing heavy weighted ring pull-ups. Ring pull-ups are great closed chain movement for working the entire upper back, biceps, and shoulder stabilizers. Keep the chest tall throughout and squeeze the lats to fully engage the back.
This is an unusual but highly effective movement for targeting the pulling muscles of the upper back and arms while strengthening the core and spinal stabilizers. In essence this should look exactly like a dip only upside down.
Renegade rows are an incredible exercise for the back, core, shoulders, and hip stabilizers. For the most advanced trainee, you should be able to perform these with dumbbells equivalent to your bodyweight.
This is an advanced but highly effective rowing variation for targeting the entire posterior chain from head to toe. It's also a great movement for improving posture as the entire musculature of the back is worked very intensely.
The dorsiflexed weight pulp is one of my favorite methods for loading pull-ups. I initially came up with this as a quick means for loading the pullup however I soon realized it had additional benefits. Not only does it provide a great method for executing weighted pull-ups and chin-ups but this protocol helps to clean up technique and lifting mechanics.
Performing pullups with chains hanging from the upper shoulders and neck is a great variation for teaching proper pullup mechanics. This specific variation tilts the lifter back to a slightly greater degree than normal pullups thereby emphasizing proper shoulder mechanics. Most lifters try to stay too upright when performing pullups. This variation teaches you to lean away from the bar which is ideal.
This ring exercise is much more difficult than it looks. Besides being incredibly challenging the ring pullover is highly effective at targeting the lats, triceps, and core, not to mention all the stabilizers throughout the rest of your body (from head to toe).
Here's a difficult but effective pullup variation. It's highly effective for working the entire upper back while also providing added benefits for posture, shoulder function, and spinal alignment.
Rows are one of the best exercises for strengthening the upper back. Unfortunately, most individuals use improper form. Dr. Seedman examines some of the most common technique errors, and explains how one important cue can clean up the whole movement.
Dr. Seedman explains how to perform a supramaximal (heavier than your 1RM) seated cable row, which is very effective for strength, size, posture, and muscle function. Performing these as a modified drop set increases gains in size and strength.
Here's some common mistakes on lat pulldowns and pullups as well as what's needed to correct the mechanics. The key is making sure the spine and shoulders stay locked in throughout the movement.
Here are a few of my NFL combine athletes performing a very effective core, lat, tricep, chest, and upper body strength exercise, the dumbbell pullover. When performed as shown in the video it's one of the most challenging variations of the pullover exercise.
Trap bar deadlifts are one of the most effective full body movements particularly when performed with controlled eccentrics or negatives. This targets every muscle in the legs, back, traps, and other areas of the body.
Here are a few of my NFL combine athletes performing a great back and lat exercise. On this particular day we added the fat grips to the handles to force the athletes to work their forearms, hands, and grip strength. It also helps clean up technique as the fat grip forces the athletes to use more controlled form.
Quadruped rows are one of the more difficult rowing variations, requiring incredible core strength and lat activation and textbook mechanics in order to remain stable. It's also a great accessory movement to perform after heavy back exercises.
Dr. Seedman examines the kneeling unilateral lat pulldown, a great exercise for targeting the lats and the core simultaneously. The key is pronating the hand at the top and supinating as you pull into the contracted position--creating the greatest stretch and squeeze in the stretched and contracted positions.
Looking for a brutally difficult core exercise? Dr. Seedman has you covered. Drop(!) the weight because your entire core, hips, and upper body stabilizers will be firing more intensely than ever before.
Because the strength curve is reversed, the iso-lateral chain row is a very unique exercise. The squeeze and intensity of contraction throughout the back and lats on this one is a surefire way to spark new growth and hypertrophy. As an added bonus it looks really cool.
Here's one of my bodybuilding athletes Ben performing an intense finisher set of weight pull-ups using the drop set method. The dorsiflex loading allows quick and seamless transitioning to lighter loads without having to stop the set midway through. This makes it highly conducive for drop sets and strips sets ultimately producing incredible increases in functional strength and size throughout the upper body especially the upper back, lats, and biceps.
The decline kettlebell pullover is an incredible lat, upper back, tricep, and core builder as the decline creates an even greater range of motion and stretch than the flat angle. When performed with kettlebells the effect is even greater. Here's one my bodybuilders Ben showing how it's done.
The incline barbell row is a very simple back and rowing exercise however it really crushes the entire musculature of the upper back as the bench allows the lifter to focus on the upper torso. Besides being very low back friendly and easy to learn it's also one of the best postural correction exercises.
The seated row using a rope and rotational movement allows greater activation of the lats as the pronated grip allows greater stretch and elongation of the lats while the supinated position promotes a stronger contraction throughout the back in the contracted position. You'll have to drop the weight a bit but the stimulus to the upper back and lats is well worth it.
The single arm bent over cable row is an outstanding lat and back exercise as the movement provides one of the largest ROM's (Range of Motion) of any lat or rowing exercise there is due to the unique angle of pull. The single arm variation also provides greater stretch at the bottom. In addition it's a fantastic core stabilization exercise as it involves a significant degree of rotary stability and anti-rotation.
The T-Bar row is a great exercise for crushing the entire back as well as the whole posterior chain. Here's one of my NFL athletes Jarius Wynn performing it as a quadruple drop set/complete strip set which is one of the most effective high intensity techniques you can incorporate for building strength and size in the back.
Using accommodating resistance for upper back movements can be tricky as often times the increased tension towards the top of the movement doesn't always match the strength curve of the muscles. However, many individuals have trouble pulling from the dead stop position and once they get the movement started and complete the first few inches they tend to be able to complete the remainder of the movement. Unfortunately with added resistance it can be difficult to initiate the movement from a dead stop position. By adding chains to the feet this deloads the bottom portion of the movement allowing the individual to use mainly their bodyweight to start from the dead hang then once the lifter builds up just enough momentum to power through the top half, the chains begin to kick in. This adds increased tension and overload in the top contracted position where the individual should be able to hold a strong isometric position thereby including incredible strength and hypertrophy gains.
The kneeling lat pulldown is one of the best movements for improving vertical pulling mechanics and cleaning up lat pulldown and pullup form as the kneeling variation forces the lifter to use strict mechanics. Focus on tucking your elbows and creating good extension throughout the t-spine.
Although there is nothing inherently wrong with a bent leg position during pull-ups it often contributes to lethargic muscle activation particularly if the lifter does not keep the lower body tight and rigid.
This often manifests itself in a sloppy half-bent, crossed-leg position where the lower body is practically dormant and void of any significant muscle recruitment. This disconnect of the lower body promotes energy leaks and lethargic activation patterns up the kinetic chain, ultimately compromising force production and torque in the upper extremities. The knee flexion loaded pullup resolves this issue as it involves a 90 degree bent-leg position while aggressively activating the posterior chain to keep the weight from falling off the legs. Here are 3 simply variations for performing them.
The hanging band technique (HBT) is one of my favorite methods for improving lifting mechanics as the oscillating kinetic energy produced from the hanging loads increases proprioceptive feedback and body positioning. Unfortunately this technique is often limited to barbell movements as it can be difficult to incorporate into other exercises. Although the oscillations won’t be quite as extreme or direct, applying the HBT method to pullups produces a similar effect which improves sensory feedback and overall pullup mechanics. It also helps to eliminate excessive momentum as jerky motions will cause the weight to bounce and drift in an uncontrollable fashion. Although it can be incorporated with the dorsiflex loading method (by hanging the band from the toes), most individuals will be better suited to the knee-flexion protocol as this keeps the weight from hitting the floor unless of course they have access to a very high pullup bar
The dorsiflexion loading method is one of my favorite ways to load pull-ups and chin-ups. Although it can be done with kettlebells and dumbbells, there's several benefits of using a barbell. First, there is literally no room for cheating, excessive momentum, twisting, or body shifting. Any deviations in form or technical breakdown and the bar will tilt or fall off the feet. Second, if the individual aggressively dorsiflexes the feet and curls the toes upward, the bar will sit quite naturally on the top of the foot. As a result, the stimulus to the feet, toes, and ankles is very intense yet highly effective for eliminating dysfunction in the lower leg and ankle complex. Lastly and most importantly the barbell variation is the single most effective diagnostic tool for assessing how symmetrical your pullup technique is. If you tilt your hips, shoulders, or core to one side, pull more with one arm, or initiate the pullup by favoring one side of your body, the barbell will immediately begin to tilt uncontrollably.
A common problem with bent over rows is that the weight is loaded to the front of the body which places greater stress on the low back and also promotes shoulder elevation. Trying to eliminate this by using dumbbells and pulling them to the sides of the body causes the weights to run into the legs. A simple solution that allows the weight to sit freely to the sides of the body while simultaneously promoting incredibly strict form are single leg bent over dumbbell rows. Once you learn to balance on one leg, the movement feels more natural than most bent over rows as the weight can fall to the side of the support leg without feeling encumbered or crowded.
The most challenging yet also the most effective method for implementing the knee flexion loading method is using a barbell. Similar to the dorsiflexion version involving the barbell, there is literally no room for cheating, excessive momentum, twisting, or body shifting. Any deviations in form or technical breakdown and the bar will tilt or fall off the legs. In addition the lifter will have to keep a strict 90-degree knee bend with the legs glued tightly together from the knees to the ankles. You’ll also be required to dorsiflex your ankles and feet to angle your legs in such a way that keeps the heels at the same height as the knees. If you go into plantar flexion, lose ankle positioning or begin driving your knees forward even slightly, the bar will roll off your calves. This requires a very high level of motor control from head to toe while simultaneously exposing even the slightest imbalance or misalignment.
Over-rowing by using excessive range of motion in the contracted position is a one of the more common mistakes lifters make on horizontal pulling movements. Unfortunately it can be difficult to correct even with proper cuing. The supine floor row is the perfect exercise for eliminating this issue as the individually will be forced to terminate the pulling motion at the optimal end range of motion as the tricep and upper arm will literally run into the floor. In addition the lifter will be forced to retract and depress their shoulder blades as well as pull their entire body into the floor which does wonders for improving postural alignment and shoulder mechanics.
Bent over barbell rows are one of the single most effective movements for crushing the entire upper back. Unfortunately many lifters perform them incorrectly thereby negating many of the potential benefits. One of the most common issues is lack of scapular depression throughout the movement. If the shoulders are not depressed then the lats will not receive thorough activation regardless of how much retraction you create. In addition, lack of scapular depression on barbell rows causes the elbow to flare which eventually causes shoulder inflammation and faulty glenohumeral joint mechanics. Ironically rows are meant to improve shoulder mechanics not degrade them. The associated benefits are purely contingent on mechanics and form. Performing rows with horizontal band resistance addresses this and provides several unique benefits.
The quadruped bench row is my go-to rowing variation for teaching an athlete how to dial in their horizontal pulling technique. The reason for this is that any faulty mechanics, movement dysfunction, or flawed activation patterns result in the lifter immediately losing his or her balance. To successfully complete the movement, the lifter will literally have to make continuous adjustments and technique corrections until every component of body mechanics from head to toe are perfectly honed in. Anything less will result in loss of body control and inability to perform the movement. Even without external coaching, the quadruped row or bird dog row does wonders for providing lifters with enough sensory feedback and internal cuing to gradually self-correct and auto-regulate their body positioning.
The table top row is simple yet highly effective movement. While performing any row that involves a bent over position such as barbell rows or single arm dumbbell rows, have a training partner place a plate or two on your middle upper back then perform the movement. It sounds sadistic and masochistic but there are multiple benefits.
1. Improved form because the back including the t-spine and lumbar must maintain a natural arch for the plate to sit on. Spinal flexion is impossible.
2. It eliminates top rock and excessive momentum or else the plates will literally fall off the back.
3. Increase proprioceptive feedback from lats, middle and upper back as the plates against your body provide sensory palpation giving you better kinesthetic awareness of your back activation and postural alignment.
4. Helps maintain a steep near-parallel, bent over position as an overly upright torso will cause the weights to slide off.
Performing rows on a back extension or glute ham raise station are extremely effective for crushing the entire posterior chain from head to toe. Besides promoting incredible growth and strength gains particularly in the mid and upper back musculature, it does wonders for improving form, posture, and spinal alignment. Because the lifter is forced to resist significant spinal flexion forces throughout, this helps to promote optimal extension throughout the t-spine which helps retract and depress the shoulders. In addition it’s nearly impossible to use excessive range of motion on the pulling mechanics as the steep angle keeps the elbows from drifting too high at the top thereby avoiding faulty shoulder mechanics. If you want to make the movement even more taxing, try using a GHR unit with a slight decline by having the feet elevated several inches above the hips.
Here's an incredibly difficult combination core stability and rowing movement. The degree of core activation via rotary stability, anti-rotation, and anti-extension, is unusually high. In addition, there is significant shoulder stability particularly in the support arm.
The dorsiflex weighted pullup is very effective for improving pull-up and chin-up mechanics as it requires very strict form and technique and helps to eliminate dysfunction and faulty posture. By using a plate (or plates stacked on the feet), this makes the movement very rigid and locked in as any cheating, shifting, or swinging will cause the weight to slide off. Here's NFL defensive end Jarius Wynn showing how it's done.
The hanging band technique is incredibly effective when applied to any movement. Most lifters apply the protocol to squats and upper body pressing movements however it also does wonders for bent over rowing technique as it requires precise form and smooth execution. Here's one of my bodybuilding athletes Ben Lai demonstrating the overhand or pronated grip variation. I typically recommend the supinated or underhand grip as it's more natural and easier to tuck. However when using lighter loads periodically changing the grip to a more difficult pronated grip can help reinforce ideal mechanics even more strongly in the central nervous system as the lifter will have to put a high level of conscientious effort into tucking the elbow, more so than with a supinated grip.
This single arm barbell bent over row variation requires incredible motor control, shoulder stability, back strength, and postural alignment. It looks a bit awkward but the barbell actually fits perfectly between the legs allowing a natural range of motion and a very intense contraction in the lats. You'll also feel a large stretch in the glutes and hamstrings.
The back extension row is an awesome movement for crushing the entire posterior chain from head to toe and working all of the postural muscles. It's also an incredible exercise for increasing strength and size in the entire upper back and lats. Although most individuals use this is a lighter accessary movement, as long as you use proper form you can actually load this movement with heavy weight and create substantial overload.
Here’s one of my clients Mitch Ellis, demonstrating perfect rowing mechanics while incorporating isometrics in the fully contracted position as well as performing brief eccentric isometrics on the negative phase. In addition this is done while keeping his eyes closed as a means to increase proprioception and fine-tune his body mechanics. Mitch recently turned 60 and his form is a true testament to his incredibly high level of function and holistic fitness that can and should be achieved regardless of your age. Besides never suffering any injuries over the past several years we’ve worked together, his strength, posture, mobility, stability, power, muscle mass, and body composition have all improved immensely. And honestly I train him very similarly to how I train my advanced collegiate and professional athletes. If you want to maximize your fitness, body composition, health, and performance, that’s what it takes.
This is an incredibly difficult movement that challenges nearly every muscle in the body. The quadruped row is already very effective for improving rowing mechanics, core stability, posture, body alignment, and rotary stability. Throw in a narrow base position (kneeling widthwise on a bench rather than lengthwise) and it requires greater core stability and motor control. In addition, using a barbell requires the most precise and properly executed rowing mechanics as any faulty movement or form will expose itself as a tilt in the barbell which will produce even greater destabilizing forces on your body making it nearly impossible to maintain balance on the bench. When done properly this one absolutely crushes the lats and core. Start with the basic variations using a dumbbell, kettlebell, or plate and progress from there. If you really want to amp up the intensity try performing these eyes closed.