A fantastic way to get strong, sleek back muscles is to perform pulling movements, whether that’s pulling a weight from an up to down position, down to up position, or just a flat pull back. You can even pull your own bodyweight, as in the case of Chin Ups or Inverted Rows, as seen in the picture below using Jungle Gym XT suspension straps (perfect for at home workouts!).
Most of the pulling muscles are located on the backside of the body – the side that gets easily ignored and, as a result, usually is pretty weak. When these muscles are turned off from not being used, or even from tight chest muscles that inhibit activation of the opposite back muscles, the resulting move we see in the gym is more of a shrug than a pull. The correct muscles don’t fire, so we compensate and use our smaller shoulder elevators instead. Yee-ouch! Most of us have enough tension in this area already and doing repeated shrug lifts isn’t going to serve our desire for a sculpted back and better posture.
So, next time you’re performing a pulling motion, consciously relax your neck, almost as if you’re setting your shoulder blades into your back pocket. This will help the correct muscles of the back engage and help you PINCH your shoulder blades together. This pinching, along with a simultaneous slight roll of the shoulders back to open up the chest, is what we’re looking for to ensure you’re (safely) getting the most out of your pull.
Cheers to a beautifully buff back!