An excellent video demonstrating this troublesome lift.
- Feet shoulder width apart, toes forwards.
- Hold the bar PALMS UP, just outside your thighs.
- Tip from the hips, so the bottom swings up and back. The knees take a natural bend.
- The body angle is about 45°.
- The back is long with a slight lumbar arch
- Widen the hips. You should feel the glutes switch on.
- The privates should be lifted.
- Throw the chest out and slide down the shoulder blades.
- Lengthen the back of the neck, so the whole spine feels long. Make sure the head does not hang nor the chin lift, so the back of the neck becomes short and tight.
- Starting with straight arms, pull the bar into you, aiming for the navel.
- Actively pull the shoulder blades towards each other.
- Lower the bar, keeping tension in the back muscles until the arms are straight.
If you look at the video, observe the top of Kimberley’s shoulders. They remain flat throughout the movement. This means he really is working his lats, mid and low traps. If the shoulders lift up, this also engages the rhomboids and a troublesome muscle called the levator scapular.
The levator scapular attaches from the inside top corner of the shoulder blade to the very top of the neck – C1 and 2. It is prone to getting extremely tight, which is extremely uncomfortable, causing headaches, neck ache and such joys.
Ultimately, a tight levator scapular weakens arms, so workouts will become increasingly frustrating.
The reason I stipulate palms up instead of palms down as in the video is there is less chance of aggravating this blasted muscle. Even so, concentration is of utmost importance throughout this exercise.
The rep range and rest period recommended in the video is excellent for beginners or for those interested in working endurance fibres – long and lean.