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Waking up your sleepy lats
 
 
duff duff is offline
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05-25-2012, 08:32 PM
 
I just found this bit of wisdom on pull-ups/chin-ups from Vince Gironda. I had to look up "teres major" to figure out what that muscle group is versus the latissimus dorsi.

The bad news is that I am doing exactly what Gironda says not to do--relying on my teres major instead of pulling with my lats. The good news is I discovered/created an Isometric Power Flex exercise that seems to be helping to wake up my sleepy lats and give me sense of how they feel versus the teres major.

Read this first and then I'll discuss the difference and the exercise I created:

Quote:
THE CHIN UP
by Vince Gironda

I do not think I have seen six men in my life do a chin properly. Don Howorth was one of them. Don pulled up with his chest high and touched his chest to the bar almost as low as his low Pec line. His elbows were drawn down to his sides, touching his lats, and with the chest high and the shoulders down and back, he contracted his lats to the maximum.

If you look up the function of the lat in any Kinesiology book, it will show that the lat – in the fully contracted position – the shoulders are drawn down and back! Round the back and shoulders forward, and you shift to the Teres major muscles. Also, if you do not arch your back to full contraction, you will not develop any of the fibres across the back that attach to the spine. This will give you a flat underdeveloped look with no thickness.

This is how you do the chin: Reach up and grasp the chinning bar, but not too wide…closer than you ordinarily do them, because the lats are partially contracted in a wide grip. Next, stand on a box so that you can jump up into the contracted position and hold at the top for a split second. Now, lower your body and stand on the box (Do singles). Jump up again and touch your low pec to the bar and arch the back. Most important – elbows must touch the sides in the top or contracted position to achieve maximum contraction.
I can't get my chest to the bar at all, barely get my chin over really. But I thought I was doing good because the muscles basically around the armpit in the back were developing. But these are the teres minor. The lats connect waaaay down the back, about an inch or 1.5 inches above the waist for me, and are huge muscles spanning a large area of the back.

So here's what I've been playing with as an exercise.

The Isometric Power Flex for the lats is like this: do a DVR chin except relax the arm, bicep, and teres major (area around the rear delt/shoulder). Focus all of your attention on crunching with the latissimus dorsi muscle. At first I found it helpful to do a little side crunch, and one side at a time. Then you can try doing both sides at a time. You should feel the muscle tensing throughout the span of your mid back especially (but not the erector spinae muscles that are responsible for arching the back as in a back bridge).

It's helpful to see an anatomy image of the muscles (for instance on page 137 of IPR--the teres major are displayed too in this graphic but not labeled, they are the muscles around the rear delts that connect the shoulders to the back). Also pages 258-259 of IPR show John's lats clearly bulging out and how they connect almost all the way down to his waist.

The other thing I've been trying out is standing on a chair and getting into the top position of the pullup, using as much support from the chair as I need to see just how it could be possible for me to get my chest to the bar using my lats, and keeping my elbows glued to my sides.

Try these exercises and see if you can wake up your sleepy lats too! I'm hoping now I can finally develop that broad V-shape that comes from having big, strong latissimus dorsi muscles.

Yours in strength and health,
~Duff

Last edited by duff; 05-25-2012 at 08:37 PM.
 
 
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Greg Newton Greg Newton is offline
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05-26-2012, 07:51 AM
 
Good article Duff and great thinking out of the box! The type of chin Vince recommened takes time to develop the strength to do. However, and this may be surprising, but the legendary boxer Jack Dempsey also chinned this way.

Greg
 
 
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entrma entrma is offline
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05-26-2012, 10:14 AM
 
Duff,

Excellent DVR/Power Flex excercise. Your method puts all of the tension on the Lats instead of the muscles surrounding the Lats. I think this concept could be applied to all DVR/Power Flex movements as it would serve to better work the main muscle that each specific exercise was designed to work.
 
 
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05-27-2012, 12:12 AM
 
Glad it worked for someone else too, entrma!

In most Iso Power Flexes I feel the tension in just the muscle specified, so I think this new movement is consistent with other such movements. DVRs are usually different though, bringing into play multiple muscle groups. I think they can both be useful, just for different purposes. Really isolating the muscle like this can be good for feeling a specific muscle and building that mind-muscle connection.
 
 
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sbslider sbslider is offline
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05-28-2012, 05:15 PM
 
Thanks for posting this duff. I really enjoyed the read, and have been applying it to my pull up work. I certainly enjoy Greg's and John's posts, but it is a breath of fresh air when someone else also passes along simillar words of wisdom.

Matt
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duff duff is offline
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05-29-2012, 01:50 AM
 
Thanks, Matt. I have less wisdom to share so I don't write as often.
 
 
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Charlie Charlie is offline
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05-29-2012, 10:20 AM
 
Hey Duff,

Is this the proper technique, for both chinups and pullups.
 
 
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05-31-2012, 04:16 PM
 
Hi Charlie,

There is more than one "proper" technique. It all depends on your goals.
 
 
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Paul_DuVall Paul_DuVall is offline
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06-07-2012, 10:26 AM
 
Hey Duff!

Thanks for posting this! It was well worth the read and will greatly help me improve my pull ups. Anyone who has any interest in building strong and wide lats should read this!

Blessings!
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06-10-2012, 11:05 PM
 
An update: I've been working on slow, very controlled neutral grip pull-ups since writing this article. I can definitely tell now when I'm engaging my lats as it's like my whole back "lights up" and my arms can actually relax a bit.
 
 
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