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  • Megan

Why I recommend Lat Pull overs on floor

In my Yoga, Pilates, Strength class, students do Lat Pullovers on the floor. Let me explain why: First, a little bit about our latissimus dorsi (lats):

credit to Robin Down, LMP found in Andrew Biel's Trail Guide to the Body 3rd Edition, Books of Discovery

Looking at this illustration of the latissimus dorsi (red), it is pretty clear that it plays an important role in our posture. And since the majority of us spend a lot of time hunching over a computer keyboard or a phone, I love this exercise to help us stand strong and properly aligned. And for those new mommas out there who are constantly hunched forward carrying and feeding a baby, this exercise is super important for you ladies.

In my class, we do this weight training exercise on the floor. I like doing this exercise on the floor because students can ensure the engagement of their abdominals.

At the start of the exercise, arms holding weights are in line with the shoulders, your back is in contact with the floor but you will feel the absence of contact at the lumbar curve/your natural spinal curve. When you draw the weight overhead, you should engage your abdominals to keep the spine in the same position as it was at the beginning of the exercise. Your lower ribs should not flare out. (This also prevents your breathing canister to be negatively affected. Keeping your pelvis and ribs aligned allows the diaphragm and pelvic floor to work together. More on this later 😉…)

end position
starting position

incorrect form

If we go into spinal extension, ie. if the gap between the floor and the spine increases, we run the risk of turning off the abdominals and just doing a spinal extension. The lats will still work to some degree, but not as much as if the body is anchored down and the abdominals are activated to stabilize. Also, when activating the abdominals, you will gain a greater abdominal workout while doing this exercise.

So why do I teach this exercise with students on their backs on the floor? Because it can be hard to know if you are coming into a spinal extension or not, but if you make that contact with the floor it is easier to notice if you lose contact/are increasing that gap.

Additional notes:

  • Keep arms straight. If the arms bend the triceps will take over.

  • How close the weight gets to the floor may be due to your skeletal design (ie. shoulder compression may inhibit your reach). Do not be tempted to ignore what I talked about earlier and overarch the back to try and get the weight closer to the floor.

Variations I like to offer for students to customize the exercise:

1) One weight between two hands (easiest option) 2) Press weights together to help stabilize 3) Separate weights shoulder distance apart 4) Hold one weight in starting position (inline with shoulder) and reach one arm (with weight)overhead. Return to start and switch arms. 5) Activate abdominals further by lifting legs and bending at 90degrees (shins parallel to sky). Make sure knees are inline with hips (if knees are close to chest the hip flexors will take over and abdominals will turn off)


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