Jackie Wright: Strengthen Your Upper Body By Pushing and Pulling
October 8, 2010
(Second in a two-part series)
Last week we detailed the unilateral row with resistive tubing and the bilateral bench press with a stability ball and moderate to heavy dumbbells, both of which are excellent “pushing/pulling” upper body exercises. This week, we will feature one more pushing/pulling upper body exercise and provide you with a couple of options for last week’s exercises. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
• Equipment Needed: Thick grade resistive tubing, stability ball and moderate/heavy dumbbells.
Seated Scapular Adduction/Retractions (Pulling) – Bilateral – Stability Ball – Resistive Tubing – Targets the trapezius and latissimus dorsi as the primary movers, multiple smaller muscles of the shoulder girdle and the core as stabilizers.
• Begin seated on a stability ball that will enable you to maintain 90 degrees of flexion at the hip/knee joints, with the feet on the floor, approximately shoulder distance apart, shoulders rotated back/down, rib cage lifted and the navel pulled toward the spine with the shoulders/hips/knees/toes all facing the same direction.
• Holding a tubing handle in each hand, cinch up the tubing around the handles so that you have approximately 4-6 inches of tubing between the hands.
• The arms should come up to shoulder height so that the elbows will remain at that level with the palms facing the floor.
• The tubing should remain taut throughout the exercise.
• Even though the latissimus dorsi muscle engages too, we are targeting the trapezius muscle which originates around the base of the skull and inserts on the lateral one-third of the clavicle/acromion process of the scapula and the spine of the scapula (i.e. the muscle looks a flat triangle).
• The trapezius muscle is responsible for elevating, depressing and retracting/adducting the scapula and we are going to concentrate on the retraction/adduction action of this muscle.
• Therefore, focusing upon the movement initiating from the lateral aspect of the scapula, pull/retract the scapula toward the spine (i.e. like cracking an egg between your scapula).
• Make certain that you are not pulling with your arms. Use the trapezius to adduct/pull the arms back.
• Then, return the arms to the beginning position. Remember, the elbows never drop down or back and the shoulders do not ‘creep” up toward your ears.
• Perform one-three sets of 8-12 repetitions, two to three non-consecutive days per week.
Option for the Unilateral Rows:
• Attempt this same exercise from a cable/pulley multi-gym with the cable height above the shoulders when in the half-squat position so you are pulling from high to low. Choose a weight increment that will challenge you but not permit you to “pitch” forward during the rowing action.
Option for the Bilateral Bench Press/Stability Ball:
• Attempt this same exercise from Smith Machine lying supine on a bench pushing the bar rather than dumbbells. Choose a weight increment that will challenge you but not compromise the shoulder joint.
Body Weight Pushing/Pulling:
• Pushups of all varieties are excellent “pushing” exercises for the entire upper body and core.
• Pull Ups of all varieties are excellent “pulling” exercises for the entire upper body and core.
Next week, we will examine several stability tools and set some guidelines for which stability tools are right for you.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She can be reached at her website at http://www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net and her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews.com
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