Archive for the tag - trap

Lat Pulldown Grip: Wide Vs. Close.

Dear Davey,

Does it matter how far apart or close my hands are when doing a lat pulldown? Is one more effective than the other?

Love,
Jacob

Dear Jacob,

The lat pulldown is a great exercise for your back. Primarily, it works the lat muscles (hence the name) – but you’ll also feel this exercise in your biceps and traps. There are four basic variables involved in a lat pulldown: The distance between your hands on the bar (wide or close grip) and the type of grip you employ (overhand or underhand).

When it comes to close vs. wide grips and underhand vs. overhand, researchers at Penn State put lat pulldowns to the test:

Twelve healthy men performed the 4 grip variations using an experimentally determined load of 70% of 1 repetition maximum. Two trials of 5 repetitions were analyzed for each grip type.

The researchers measured the effectiveness of each grip variation and found that a overhand

The lat pulldown machine.

(pronated) grip is the most effective:

We conclude that… a pronated grip is recommended for safely and optimally training the LD [latissimus dorsi muscle], irrespective of the grip width.

An pronated or overhand grip is when your palms face away and your fingers turn downward over the bar. Interestingly, as the research notes, there is no difference in effectiveness between a wide or close grip – so hold the bar at a width that feels comfortable.

Bottom line: Use an overhand grip at any width when performing a lat pulldown.

I hope that helps!

Love,
Davey

Shrug Your Way to a Stronger Back.

Dear Davey,

Do you know of any good trapezius exercises? I’m having trouble finding any.

From,
Jeff

Dear Jeff,

The trapezius is a large superficial muscle that runs along your upper back, shoulder blades and neck. It performs a number of important functions in the body – but it is often overlooked in workouts.

Recently, I’ve incorporated a very simple but powerful trapezius exercise called “shrugs” into my workout. You can perform shrugs at home or at the gym – it just requires a set of dumbbells, a resistance band, barbell or two equally weighted items (you could use two large water jugs, for example).

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Stand upright and hold the dumbbells at your side. Palms should be facing each other. Be careful not to move your head or bend your arms during the exercise.
  2. Keep your shoulders relaxed – and shrug them upwards as though you were trying to touch your shoulders to your ears.
  3. Hold here, then gradually lower to the starting position.
  4. Repeat as necessary.

If you’re looking to build your trapezius, you’d opt for heavier weights and lower reps. If you’re looking to maintain – or to increase strength and endurance – lighter weights with a higher number of reps is appropriate.

I hope that helps!

Love,
Davey