Standing straight arm Lat Pushdown
How to Do the Standing Straight Arm Band Lat Pushdown | In-Depth Guide [VISUAL LEARNERS]
Proper Form, Common Mistakes, & Variations | Home Resistance Training
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MAIN MUSCLES WORKED IN Standing Straight arm Lat Pushdowns
OTHER MUSCLES WORKED:
- Teres major
- Lower and mid trapezius
WHAT & WHY
BENEFITS OF TRAINING THE Latissimus Dorsi
WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY
Other names for this exercise: Straight Arm Lat Pushdown
ALL WE'RE DOING:
Pulling our straight arms down from overhead.
The Straight Arm Lat Pushdown is a back strengthening exercise that primarily targets the latissimus dorsi muscles, which are responsible for pulling the arms down toward the body. This resistance band back exercise can help build upper body strength, develop back muscles, and enhance posture.
ISOLATE THOSE LATS
This is one of my own personal favorite lat exercises - I do it at home very frequently. In the straight arm lat pushdown the arms begin stretched up in front of you and the lat muscles work to pull the arms down to your sides. This movement is the same movement as the arm movement of a swim stroke - the arm is pulled down, close to the body and rotates a little bit in at the end. The lat muscles help in all of these movements.
The benefit of the straight arm version of the lat pushdown is that it really isolates the lat and works it through a larger range of movement compared to the bent arm lat pulldown. The arms are straight and are being brought down very close to the body so there is less (if any) contribution from the other muscles (biceps and the rear deltoid). this is because:
- Larger range because starting above/oh (vs a lat row is only starting from 90 degrees relative shoulder flexion)
- If the arm were bent/bending instead of straight it would get more biceps
- If the arm were further from body instead of close it would get more rear delt - YES exactly from carol.
The arms are angled out - in the scapular plane - with the hands outside of the shoulders - so they pull the upper arm down into adduction by the sides of the body towards the hips.
If the upper arm was straight to the front - then it would be more pec - not the scapular plane (the frontal plane) than in flexion (the sagittal plane) the hand position can be varied with the amount of elbow flexion. So with the dowel and perfectly straight elbows the hands will be further apart
WHY DO WE EVEN CARE?
WORKING OUR BACK COUNTERACTS ALL THE STUFF WE DO MORE TO OUR FRONTS
Straight arm lat pushdowns are a great way for training the muscles of the back. This is especially important when you think about how much of your day you spend working in front of your body, driving, using the computer, lifting, carrying, cooking, and cleaning. These are all activities that work the muscles on the front of the body, which tend to be strong and tight, pulling people into stooped posture with rounded shoulders. The situation can be made worse when we work out. Many people focus on exercises for their arms and chest but don’t really think about the muscles on our backs. It is important to balance all of that out, by working the muscles on the back of the body.
THE LATS CONNECT TO A BUNCH OF BODY PARTS = IT'S IMPORTANT TO HOW OUR BODY MOVES
The Latissimus dorsi means widest (latissimus) back (dorsi). The muscle is usually just called the lats. They are the largest back muscles, shaped somewhat like a big wing or triangle lying across much of the back. The lat muscle actually connects to the pelvis, the spine, the shoulder blade, and the arm, making it an important back muscle that not only affects posture, but also plays a big role in the movement of the shoulders and the legs.
The latissimus dorsi muscle is an important connection between your upper and lower body and your back muscles and abdominal muscles. The lat is the only muscle that connects the arm to the spine - the spine is the main support beam for the body, it helps to provide the arm with a stable base to work off of so that it can lift heavier loads and have more control.
It connects the upper body with the lower body, it is broad so it covers more area than any other back muscle. It helps to coordinate the reciprocal movement of the arms and legs during walking and running, sports - like batting, golf, tennis, - the force is transmitted from the ground, up the legs across the low back and to the arms - this is the cross pattern - one leg to the opposite arm - and the lat plays an important role in this. If this connection is weak it leads to decreased power, speed, poor posture, poor alignment of the lower body.
The transverse abdominis is very similar to the lat in its connections and also connects to the thoracolumbar fascia.
HELPS WITH WALKING & RUNNING
The lat also plays an important role in walking and running - it helps to coordinate the reciprocal movement between the arm and leg movement. When the lats are weak or tight, it can affect the activity of the gluteus maximus - resulting in a shorter walking stride - shorter steps because the leg is not moving behind the body as far. The lats connect the lower body to the upper body to transfer energy from your legs to your arms - think about swinging a bat or a golf club, you plant your foot and rotate the upper body to transfer all of the energy up and across to the other arm to hip the ball.
AVOID NECK, SHOULDER & BACK PAIN BY KEEPING BACK MUSCLES STRONG
Too much focus on the muscles on the front of the body without working the muscles of the back can lead to neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, even carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis or golfer’s elbow. When the muscles on the front of the chest (pectoralis, anterior deltoid, biceps, coracobrachialis) are tight or worked more than the muscles (stronger - creating an imbalance) of the back, they can pull the shoulders, shoulder blades, and upper back forward, and cause the arms to roll forward and in. This results in slouched posture - a flat low back, rounded upper back, rounded shoulders, and a forward head position. Over time this poor posture will irritate the joints, nerves and soft tissues of the spine and shoulders, and will work the muscles differently - creating more imbalances between the muscles.
The straight arm lat pushdown works many of the muscles on the back, and trains them to hold the torso upright, and the shoulders back as the arms move. When you learn to exercise correctly you realize that exercising is not just about strengthening muscles, but it is about learning how to move in everyday life. This exercise is a good way to learn how to use the power of the torso to help move the arms.
EVERYDAY LIFE &
HOW WE USE OUR lats IN EVERYDAY LIFE
1. PULLING THE ARM DOWN FROM BEING IN FRONT (MOVING FROM FLEXION TO EXTENSION) OR TO THE SIDE OF THE BODY (MOVING FROM ABDUCTION TO ADDUCTION)
- Rowing yourself on a pool floatie on your summer camping vacation at the lake - face down or up!
- Kayaking - moving the paddle down & back behind you, and to keep torso upright against the pull
- Cross country skiing
- Chopping wood
- Golf swing
- Driving - turning the steering wheel
- Scraping snow off your car (i should be thankful I don’t have a garage, it’s keeping my backside on shape!)
- Resists arms being pulled up (resisting abduction)- like a large dog that is walking on your side and starts pulling on the leash to go chase a squirrel. I can't tell you how many people have torn their rotator cuff muscles because of dogs pulling on their leashes!
2. LIFTING YOUR BODY UP WHILE KEEPING THE ARMS STABLE
- Pushing up out of a chair
- Pushing yourself out of a pool (hands on edge of pool)
- Climbing past larger boulders on a hiking trail
- Using crutches
3. MOVES AND STABILIZES THE SHOULDER BLADE
- Depresses (pulls down) the shoulder blade: arm movements that involve pulling the arm down
- Holds the shoulder blade down to provide a stable base for your arm to work off of: using crutches, holding or carrying objects in front of you.
4. HOLDS THE TORSO IN HEALTHY UPRIGHT POSTURE
The lat is more of a secondary player for this, the erector spinae, glute max, and multifidi do most of the work - and the fascia and ligaments do a ton of work passively.
5. GAIT - PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN RECIPROCAL ARM AND LEG MOVEMENT DURING GAIT
The lat influences glute max activity through the thoracolumbar fascia (connective tissue that attaches to the spine and pelvis)
6. STABILIZES THE LOW BACK
HOW Standing Band Lat Pushdowns SHAPE OUR BODY
Good posture, slim V waist (hourglass figure).
This is the standard version of the lat pushdown done in a standing position with the arms held straight. The straight arm position will lessen any bicep involvement and increase the work done by the lats. Moving the arms close to the body will decrease the effort from the rear deltoids.
Using a resistance band allows you to use the lats to push the arms back past the body into extension. The standing position will train good postural alignment of the spine and the legs.
If you have trouble finding a place high enough to mount the band to do this in a standing position, you can simply do it in a kneeling position or even sitting back on your heels, then you can mount the band in a lower position.
How to Feel What Muscle is Working
Sitting on a chair with a hard seat. Take your opposite hand and place it on your back (towards the side of the body) about 5 inches lower than the armpit.
Place the hand of the side you will be working on the seat of the chair. Push down into the seat as if you were going to lift your bottom up off the seat. You should feel the latissimus dorsi contract.
PROPER FORM: Straight Arm Band Lat Pushdown
EQUIPMENT, SETS & REPS
Main set (3: Light/Med/Heavy):
X-Heavy Band (I recommend getting this too if you plan to use resistance bands frequently).
SUGGESTED STARTING WEIGHT FOR WOMEN:
SETS & REPS:
High load (heavier resistance band) 2 sets of 8; medium resistance band 2 sets of 15
Moderate pulling down and slower release.
BODY POSITION FOR THE Standing Band Lat Pushdown
BAND PLACEMENT: Anchor the band head level or higher (mine is mounted as far as my arms can reach above me - about 2 feet higher than my hea) - this will allow a large range of motion for the latissimus to work through. Stand facing the anchor. You may need to play around the distance you are from the anchor for the band. This exercise involves moving through a large range of movement. The idea is to have your arms up higher than shoulder height and then push them back behind your hips. The exact positioning will depend on how high the anchor is and how heavy the resistance band is. You want the band to provide some resistance through the range of motion, but you also should be able to push the band past the hips.
FEET: Hip width apart, toes forward
BODY STANCE: Knees slightly bent to provide a stable base to work off of. Neutral spine, sternum lifted, space between your earlobe and your shoulder. It is ok to hinge forward at the hips to get a larger stretch on the lats (stepping back away from the anchor of the band). The idea is to get a straight pull - from the band down to the side of the hips. When the arms are stretched overhead, a rough guide for positioning - aim for being able to draw a straight line down the band to the shoulder, down the torso and to the hip (from a side view).
HAND/GRIP: Holding one end of the band in each hand with the forearm pronated (palms forward), should be comfortable. The band should come from the inside of the hand (thumb side).
ARM: Arms overhead, holding the elastic band. Your upper arms slightly in front of the trunk (30 degrees forward - in the scapular plane- just meaning not in straight flexion or straight abduction - but the scapular plane. Positioning the hands just wider than shoulder width will usually put the upper arm in a good position.) Arms near fully straight, elbow can have a small bend. Hands wider than shoulder width - this will depend on the amount of elbow bend.
HOW TO DO
HOW TO DO Straight Arm Band Lat Pushdowns
CUE: Concentrate on the lats pushing the arms down.
Actively pull your shoulder blades down your back and in towards your spine as you push your arms down staying close to the sides of your body.
To get a better lat contraction, pull your arms in towards your torso and slightly rotate them in (thumb down) as your hands get closer to your hips.
Pause at the end of the movement and then slowly return to the starting position.
HOW TO SAFELY GET OUT OF THE EXERCISE
Return to the starting position and release the bands.
WHAT TO AVOID WITH THE Standing Band Lat Pushdown
Guess what? Good news! Many avoids are the same for most movements. Once you learn the basics, there's really only a few extra avoids for each individual movement.
1. Avoid Arching/Extending Low Back
AVOID: Avoid arching your low back.
- Maintain a neutral spine position to prevent low back joint injury, muscle strain or damage over time.
- Promotes poor posture If your ribs lower ribs flare upwards - this indicates you are arching your low back.
WHAT TO DO:
- Activate your lower abdominals to hold your low back in a neutral spine position
2. Avoid Rounding/Flexing Low Back
AVOID: Avoid rounding (flexing) your low back.
- Can lead to muscle strain or low back joint injury, it will also decrease the activation of the targeted muscles.
WHAT TO DO:
- Maintain a neutral spine position.
- Could be due to poor back extensor strength: choose a position with more support.
3. Avoid Gripping Neck Muscles
AVOID: Avoid using your neck.
- The neck should be neutral and relaxed, space between the earlobe and top of shoulder - this can lead to neck and/or shoulder injury over time and it prevents you from using the correct muscles.
- You may feel neck discomfort, find that you are pressing down with your head, or gripping with your neck muscles.
WHAT TO DO:
- Gripping neck muscles in an attempt to stabilize the shoulders: relax the neck and activate the core muscles more, activate the scapular stabilizers in retraction and depression.
4. Avoid Locking Knees
AVOID: Avoid straightening or locking the knees of standing legs.
- If your knees are locked you may feel pressure or discomfort in the low back or knees.
- This tends to decrease the lumbar curve, pull on the hamstrings and decrease the muscle activity of the legs.
WHAT TO DO:
- The knees should be soft.
- Locking the knees puts stress on the knee joint and can make it more difficult to maintain a neutral spine.
5. Avoid Hands too narrow
AVOID: Avoid too narrow hands.
- This will get the pec muscles more involved.
WHAT TO DO:
- Spread your hands further apart, wider than shoulder width if you can. This helps keep the focus on our lat muscles.
VARIATIONS OF Straight Arm Band Lat Pushdowns
Seated Straight Arm Lat Pushdown
SPIFFILICIOUS FACTS ABOUT MUSCLES & MOVES
The latissimus dorsi is a large broad muscle of the back used to bring the arm down (against resistance) from a flexed position, adduct the arm (move in towards the side of the body), and internally rotate the upper arm. The muscle begins at the mid-back (the lower 6 thoracic vertebrae, the lower 4 ribs) and attaches to the pelvis through the (thoracolumbar - mid to low back) fascia (connective tissue). This is a powerful muscle that works to pull the arm down from a flexed position. The latissimus dorsi supports the low back to provide a stable base for healthy joint mechanics of the shoulders, hips, and upper and lower back. Along with the lower and mid traps, rhomboids, and pectoralis major, the latissimus dorsi acts to move the shoulder blade down and inward for normal shoulder joint mechanics during arm use.
The lat is more of a secondary player for this - the erector spinae, glute max, and multifidi do most of the work - and the fascia and ligaments do a ton of work passively. In the end section under the science stuff, I had put that there really isn't anything that the lat is does that cannot be done by other muscles - so it (a graft from it, not the whole thing) is commonly used in surgeries when muscle flaps are needed. Basically, any function of the lat can be done by some other muscle. The thoracolumbar fascia is what connects the lat to the spine, pelvis, glutes - so even without the lats, it would function to help support the spine.
ALLLL MUSCLES & WHEN
ALL MUSCLES WORKING & WHEN DURING THE Standing Straight Arm Band Lat Pushdown
The core (abdominals and lumbar region) muscles and leg muscles are active throughout to stabilize the body against the resisted movement of the arms.
The arms begin out to the front of the body, neutral shoulder position (no internal or external rotation). In this position the shoulder blade is rotated upward and pulled slightly into protraction - this is passive - no muscle activity because the resistance of the band is holding the arm in this position.
The latissimus dorsi and teres major work concentrically to push the arm down, the lower fibers of the pectoralis major and triceps can help when there is enough resistance. The mid trap, lower trap, rhomboid, and serratus anterior work to move the shoulder blade to control the positioning of the shoulder joint, including retracting (pulling towards the spine) and depressing (pulling down the back), and rotating the shoulder blade down and to hold the shoulder blade to provide a stable base for the arm to move off of.
Towards the end of the movement, the triceps may be activated (isometrically) to hold the elbow straight as the band pulls on the hands. The upper arm is slightly internally rotated - this involves the latissimus dorsi, infraspinatus, and teres minor muscles.
To return to the starting position the same muscles will work eccentrically to reverse the motions and control the pull of the band as the arms are lifted back up.