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  1. #1
    Elite Viduus's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Back Movements - An anatomical approach

    After getting involved in a discussion about why we never feel a bump in our back, I took a deep dive into back anatomy in order to better understand my back training. Had a few eye-opening moments so I thought I'd share.

    Key realizations that changed the way I approach training were:


    • We're biased by what we can see with our eyes. We apply the way we see the front of our bodies to how we view the back. Even though they're anatomically very different.
    • We have an extra joint that we never think about because humans have a rib cage. We think wrist, elbow, shoulder but there's one missing. Our shoulder blades are actually a fourth joint that doesn't function towards the front of our body so we always forget about it. Learning how that joint affects compound and isolation muscles is key to understanding back training.


    The muscles of the upper back can be broken into three groups:


    • Scapulohumeral (Arm to shoulder blade)
    • Axioscapular (Spine to shoulder blade)
    • Aaxiohumeral (Spine to Arm)


    The unique thing here is the axiohumeral muscles bypass the shoulder blade.

    Now to breakdown each group:

    Scapulohumeral
    These group is pretty straightforward and consists of 7 muscles that connect the upper arm to the shoulder blade.
    Main ones here are the delts, teres major and the various muscles that make up the rotator cuff.
    To isolate these muscles you need to keep your shoulder blade in a fixed position. This can be retracted or extended but you'll want to concentrate on the way the arm moves towards or away from the shoulder blade. Rotator cuff muscles are fairly week and obviously, involve rotating the arm within the socket.


    Axioscapular
    This is a group of five muscles that move the shoulder blade relative to the spine. Major muscles are: trapezius, rhomboid and the minor muscles are: rhomboid minor, Levator scapulae, and serratus anterior.
    To isolate these muscles you should keep your upper arm fixed relative to your shoulder blade and focus on how the shoulder blade moves relative to your spine. Rhomboids pull the shoulder blade directly towards the spine while your upper traps raise your shoulder blade towards the upper spine and your lower drops lower it down towards your lower spine. (Think wide t-bar rows/ lat pulldowns with a short range of motion and stiff shoulders)


    Axiohumeral
    This is the fun group that bypasses the shoulder blade and connects the spine/trunk to the upper arm. In the back, this consists of your lats while in the front it's your pecs.

    lat.jpg


    To isolate either of these you need to focus on how your upper arm moves relative to your spine while your scapula remains FIXED. When we bench, we contract our scapula and keep it pinned. Most would say this is for stability but we get the benefit of focusing the work on the pec muscle but we don't apply this thinking to our backs.


    Benching involves two muscles to extend your arms away from your spine. Pec Major and Pec minor. With the vast majority of the work focused on the Pec Major.


    When doing lat pull-downs we involve approximately 10 muscles to pull our arms toward our spine. (All the muscles in the three groups outlined above) This is why we rarely feel a pump. Humans evolved from a species that spend a lot of time hanging from our (straight!) arms and using them as a form of movement. Think about how much of a beating our upper leg muscles take over the course of a given day. Look at a chimpanzee swinging with straight arms. This keeps the weight off the bicep and allows all the upper back muscles to swing the upper body into a new position. This is a compound movement that distributes the load over a lot of muscles.


    The relative movement of the upper arm to the scapula and the scapula to the spine determines which of the three groups are involved in the movement.


    To isolate the lats you need to fix your shoulder blade so the axioscapular muscles don't get involved. This takes your traps and rhomboids out of the movement. Why do we do rows for lats? Why do we have to keep our shoulders tucked? Because the shoulder blades don't move when you bring your upper arm down towards your spine while it's tucked into your body thanks to your rib cage. The lats connect to the bottom front of your upper arm and help pull it down. Pullovers, straight arm pushdowns, t-bar rows, bent over rows, one arm dumbbell rows, supinated close-grip pulldowns are all movements that bring the upper arm down close to the body. (don't focus on the position of the lower arm, just the upper arm) All of these movements will work the lat and avoid the traps/rhomboids. The difference is in how much weight you can move and how much they involve your forearms and biceps.


    To isolate your traps and rhomboids, you have to keep your shoulder fixed relative to your scapula or your lats and teres major will share in the load.


    Wide pulldowns allow your scapula more freedom of movement and will either be a compound movement or an isolation movement depending on the same upper arm to shoulder blade to spine movements outlined above.


    Please excuse my lack of English skills and tendency to ramble. Just trying to share some of the things that help my mind-muscle connection.
    “The only natural test-boosters I know of that work are compound lifting, steaks, and looking at boobies...” -Dan

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    BRICKS (09-16-2018),DevilDoc87 (09-24-2018),dk8594 (09-17-2018),dwsun (09-24-2018),jennerrator (09-16-2018),Jin (09-17-2018),MrRippedZilla (09-17-2018),Robdjents (10-01-2018),snake (09-17-2018),Trump (09-17-2018)

  3. #2
    Elite Jin's Avatar
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    I’m going to have to read that again and take notes. Nice write up dude.

    Blood, sweat and years.
    *and tren


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    Senior Member DevilDoc87's Avatar
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    Nice post vid!
    /Doc

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    Administrator PillarofBalance's Avatar
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    Understanding what moves what is important for sure. But there are also techniques to help establish the connection. I spent a lot of time learning these early on and it paid off. My back was the only body part that made me look like I lift lol

    1. Lower the weight. Strict tempo movements will light you up.

    2.. Change your grip. Stop using a tight wrap around grip. Straps are fine but even with straps only grab the bar with your 4 fingers.

    3. Think about bringing your triceps back rather than rowing from the hands. This may take some time to understand. But thinking about the ROM of the elbow not the angle of the elbow.
    "Overzealous dosing" -Jin

    Rest in Peace Robot Lord. First round of Natty Boh is on me when I make it up there with you brother.

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  7. #5
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    This was a great post because my back is an area I'm trying to target. We need some illustrations for us simple folks. Lol.

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    Viduus (09-17-2018)

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    Really appreciate this post, Thanks. I'm also going to have to read again and take notes, a lot of good info in here.

  10. #7
    Elite Dbolitarian's Avatar
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    Good shit man, what's your source on this shit?

    "The longest journey begins with a single step"

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    Elite Viduus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dbolitarian View Post
    Good shit man, what's your source on this shit?
    I dissected some cadavers. On a side note, anybody know where I can dump 15 trash bags without questions?

    Serious answer is Wikipedia. All I did was take the time to go through the back muscles and look at the anatomy of the shoulder blade. Once you do that and pay attention to the movements you can figure out what’s going on.
    “The only natural test-boosters I know of that work are compound lifting, steaks, and looking at boobies...” -Dan

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    Jin (09-28-2018)

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    for easy trash bag disposal contact Barry the Blade Muldano


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