What are the things that make an exercise controversial? Risk of injury has to be considered, as well as; whether it is genuinely an effective exercise to build muscle.
Old School lifters were often ahead of the curve when finding the best ways to grow. So today, we’ll look at 4 different exercises you should consider adding to your program.
I’ve been doing Steve Reeves's Mr. America workout, and it has behind-the-neck pulldowns, or alternatively, you could do a behind-the-neck pull-up.
I opted for the lat pulldown as I couldn’t comfortably do a pull-up behind my neck. It definitely feels different in my lats than a front pulldown, and for this reason, it’s worth occasionally adding to my personal program. However, it’s not one I’d prescribe to a client.
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It’s controversial because you have to ask yourself what is the risk to reward. Or Do you have the body mechanics to do the movement properly?
If you need to shove your head way forward to let the bar pass, you may not have the mobility to do this exercise, and a front lat pulldown would be the better option.
A study compared behind the neck to a front and V bar pulldown. I don’t think too many gyms have a V bar but what they found was EMG activation was the same in the lats for all 3 movements.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t any advantages as there was more rear delt activation with the behind the neck.
This study found no strong evidence of a relationship between a behind-the-neck lat pulldown and shoulder injury. But it does ask the question with no sport or daily life activities that match the movement pattern of a behind-the-neck pulldown
Why do one?
Next is the wide grip pull-up and specifically the way Franco Columbu did them. These days I prefer mine weighted with a hand grip just outside of shoulder width, and I pull relatively straight up. This provides a greater range of motion than a wide-grip pull-up.
Franco didn’t believe we needed to use weight, just a wider grip and something he did that’s unique is how he arched his back with his chest up and pulled the bar passed his chin to his chest.
When I pull up like this, as opposed to keeping my torso straight, I feel more of a contraction in the lats in the top position.
The only controversy with this, is which is better, the heavy weighted pull-up with a shoulder-width grip or the wide grip using only body weight.
Dumbbell pullovers. Are they a lat or a chest exercise? Do they expand our rib cage? That’s how it was initially used as part of a breathing exercise to expand our rib cage. If that’s your goal, then you’re wasting your time. Our rib cage, or rib box as they used to call it, is fixed in size once we’re adults.
Old school guys did this exercise diagonally to the bench instead of lying on top of it, parallel. With their hips down as a counterbalance to create a better stretch in the lats.
This is another exercise that, if you lack shoulder mobility, you may not be able to do.
Dorian Yates used a lat pullover machine in the training video Blood and Guts. The advantage of this piece of equipment is you can work the lats through a full range of motion as opposed to using a dumbbell where the resistance ends as you raise it overhead.
The Yates row is more than just a reverse grip bent over row as you have a more upright stance. With a bent-over row, you try and keep your back as parallel to the floor as possible, which puts a greater load on the lats and erector Spinae.
The Yates row is done with your back at about a 45-degree angle, which allows you to use a lot more weight and puts a greater emphasis on the upper back, including the traps. One of the benefits is there’s less strain on the lower back.