Strength Training – Lats & Traps


Maintain a straight line from hands, through shoulders down spine

In my last post I talked about exercising shoulders. The next muscle group in the top-down approach is the back, specifically the latissimus dorsi & trapezius muscle groups and the exercise I use for this is the chin up.

Getting Started

For this exercise you will need a chin-up bar. This can be indoors or out but in either case, you really need plenty of room so that you can do pull-ups behind your neck, see above. You will probably also need a resistance band as well, especially in the early days before you’ve achieved full-strength and can do them unassisted.

Achieving Failure

The key here is to isolate those back muscles as much as possible and so you need to maintain a straight line from hands, through shoulders & down the spine, with the bar behind your neck as shown above. Start the movement with a wide grip, slightly wider than shoulder width and just hang from the bar. With a tight grip, slowly start to pull yourself upwards right up until the back of your neck touches the bar or as close to it as you can get. Once at the top, hold that position for as long as you can. As you start to tire, allow yourself to come down a few inches. Hold that new position again for a few seconds before trying to pull upwards again. Repeat this “pull-hold-release”process all the way back down to the hanging position. Rest for no more than 90 seconds before repeating. Do this as often as you can until you simply can’t do anymore.

My Progress

When I first started I was looking to increase the reps. Now I’ve started to concentrate more on the form as described above. I can now do around 4-6 of these “pull-hold-release” cycles with resistance band before complete failure. For me, for now at least, it’s all about getting my muscles to fail in the appropriate manner in order to build strength. Reps can follow later..

Below is a video of me on New Year’s day 2017, doing my first “straight 10” pull-ups:


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