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Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Barbell Row


Reverse-grip bent-over barbell rows

Target:
Lower lats.

Best In Workout:
Because you are so much stronger during this move and because it is a bent-over move that taxes the lower back to a great extent, perform this early in your training.

Sets & Reps:
Perform 4 sets with 6-12 reps

Stance:
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, grasp a barbell with an underhand, shoulder-width grip. A firm solid, foundation will help you get the most out of the row. The reverse grip will automatically allow you to be stronger (than the overhand-grip version) because you are engaging your biceps.

Bent Knees:
Keeping your knees slightly bent, lean forward at your waist until your torso is roughly parallel with the floor. You want to have a little “give” in your knees throughout the set. Slightly opening and closing the angle of your knees will allow a follow-through movement on each rep while also alleviating your lower back from undue stress.

Barbell:
The barbell should hang straight down and very close to the front of your shins. Without raising your upper body, pull the barbell up toward your lower abdomen, bringing your elbows high and ubove the level of your back. You can actually drag the bar up the quads to your lower abs. By dragging the bar, you are sure to fully engage those lower-lat fibres with better accuracy because it will keep your arms in line with the sides of your body.

At The Top:
Hold the bar in the peak-contracted position for a brief count then slowly lower the along the same path. When the bar is near your abdomen, your elbows should actually be behind the plane of your back. It is at that point that you can squeeze your lower lats with incredible intensity. Try holding that point for up to 2 seconds before lowering the bar to full-arm extension.


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Beach Bummed


Competitive bodybuilders usually train for symmetry and proportion in an effort to build an aesthetically pleasing physique. There are many individuals who go to the gym to build up their beach muscles, disregarding symmetry and proportion in designing their training programs. Instead of training opposing muscle groups equally, they sometimes ignore the muscles they cannot see (back, hamstrings, calves, quads) and focus on the muscles they admire in the mirror everyday (chest, biceps, shoulders and abs). Although training specific muscle groups more than others can create an unbalanced-looking physique, disregarding a muscle group over time can potentially lead to other problems that may subject the body to injury.

One common mistake with regard to balanced training is performing an unbalanced training program between the chest and back muscles. The amount of time, energy, effort, volume and frequency between the agonist chest muscles and the antagonists back muscles may not be equal, or even close. A simple example would be an athlete who performs 4 sets os four exercises for the chest (for a total number of 16 sets) and does only 3 sets of three exercises for the back (for a total number of 9 working sets). Following this unbalanced training regime over time will result in back muscles much weaker than the chest muscles. This imbalance may lead to a slightly kyphotic posture (forward/rounded shoulders) that can potentially cause shoulder problems because of the faulty posture. In addition to the stronger chest muscles (compared to the back muscles) pullong the shoulders forward, inadequate stretching of the chest musculature can further contribute to this problem.

For some people, training legs consists of quads and that is it. The disregard their hamstrings while training only the quadriceps. Exercises such as the leg extensions, hack squats and front squats place a large amount of emphasis on the quads. Although these exercises are great you need to do an equal amount of hamstring work with leg curls and romanian deadlifts to stress both muscle groups. Distributing attention evenly to both muscle groups can give you healthier knees and lower back, as well as fewer hamstring strains because of an unbalanced hamstring-to-quad strength ration.

A less obvious training error woth regard to balanced training concerns the shoulders. Overhead shoulder press, incline bench press, flat bench press and other chest and shoulder pressing movements are critical for maximal muscle development. However, these exercises focus on the major muscle groups such as the deltoids, pectoralis major, pectoralis minor and other muscles known as prime movers. Often ignored in a training regime is the training or isolation of the smaller muscle groups in the shoulder known as the rotator cuff (the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis) that are critical in keeping the upper arm in the socket of the shoulder. Failure to train these smaller muscles groups, two of which are not even visible can create an imbalance between the large prime movers and small stabilisers. This lack of imbalance in strength may result in bursts of bursitis, tendinitis or even rotator cuff tears in the shoulder joint.


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Barbell Bent-over Row and the Single-arm Dumbbell Version


The barbell bent-over row is my favourite exercise for back, but should I also be doing the single-arm dumbbell version.

The barbell row is a lot like the bench press because you are in a fixed position where both sides have to work hard to keep the movements smooth. Dumbbells give one side a chance to stretch a bit more, and the unfixed position lets you adjust your body to potentially move slightly more weight per side. With a wide-grip the barbell row also hits the upper lats more directly; the one-arm row targets the lower lats better.


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One-Sided Gains


Here are four exercises which will help you to reap the benefits of unilateral training.

Chest: One-Arm Dumbbell Press
You have to balance yourself, so the press becomes more challenging. It requires a lot of concentration and may be slower, depending on the weight you are using.

Back: Single-Arm Lat Pulldown
Grasp the handle with an underhand grip and bring it straight down in front of your face. The movement is effective because you get a great stretch on the lats at the top. It is better than a two-handed pulldown.

Shoulders: Single-Arm Machine Press
You are going over your head in what is usually an unstable movement, so you will lift significantly more weight with the added control the machine offers. Doing this exercise with one hand will give you a really good burn.

Legs: Smith-Machine Bulgarian Squat
With one foot on a flat bench behind you, squat on one leg. This technique gives a deep stretch to the glutes of the working leg and grows your legs in a way dual-leg training can’t.


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Straight-Arm Pulldown Vs Decline Cable Pullover


Both are great for isolating the lower lats but which is better because of its increased range of motion and time under tension.

Straight-Arm Pulldown
A classic exercise, the straight-arm pulldown is a great pre-exhaust movement for lats or as a finisher at the end of a brutal back workout. It completely isolates the lats while also calling into play the core musculature. You have probably felt your deep abdominals hard at work during a gruelling set of these pulldowns, and that is absolutely critical and expected. The exercise requires considerable stabiliser activity, especially the heavier you go. If you are stopping the bar on the upward phase when your arms approach parallel, your lats and core are under extreme tension. Many athletes allow the bar to travel too high, causing a loss of tension in the lats. The two keys for this exercise are to hold the peak contraction for a count at the bottom with the bar directly in your line of sight, and pulling it all the way into your body at the bottom of the rep as you squeeze your lats.

Decline Cable Pullover
This lower lat exercise takes a little trial and error in terms of bench placement. You have to place the bench far enough away from the stack to allow your arms full extension at the start of the rep without letting the plates touch down. You might have to do a couple of trial reps to ensure you are set up correctly. Unlike the straight-arm pulldown, the decline pullover requires minimla stabiliser activity. If you are thinking the pullover is a chest move, you are correct, but it is even more so when performed in an incline or flat position. The decline pullover is an excellent lat exercise whose key is a shoulder-width grip and completely straight arms throughout the movement. Opening and closing the angle of the elbows will automatically involve triceps and chest.

The Winner: Decline Cable Pullover
Even though your head is lower than your legs, with the cable gravity does not diminish the effectiveness of the exercise as you pull the bar into your lower body, therefore your alts remain involved longer. Because the bar travels closer to your legs, you can squeeze your lats as you would during the straight-arm pulldown. However, the angle of your body causes the lats to be engaged through a greater range of motion. In contrast to the straight-arm pulldown, which requires you to stop the bar to keep tension, the decline cable allows you to reach back overhead while maintaining that necessary tension in the lats. The fact that you do not have to worry about balance makes the decline cable pullover the clear winner in the race towards building incredible lower lats.