There are many people who do the motions of back and shoulder exercises but they are not getting the benefit simply because they need to know the little ways to tweak the exercises to get the best results. I was totally guilty of this when I started lifting and even though I would hear it from my trainers, it took a while for me to really understand and apply what they were saying. Once I felt the difference in my muscles by focusing on my form I saw fantastic results. I want to share them with you so that you are not just going through the motions and wasting valuable muscle building opportunities.
Physical trainers say constantly “Pretend there is a pencil between your shoulder blades and you are trying to break that pencil”. When I did not have muscles built up in my back I didn’t really feel that sensation. I would over use my arms to pull the weights down. Having really good posture and form is (like every exercise) critical for getting the benefits from the exercises. Before you start any of the exercises for back and shoulders, make your spine long, pull your stomach in tight and adjust your butt so that it is aligned with your back and not sticking out. Rotate your shoulders up, drop them backward a bit and hold them in this position throughout the sets.
When you lift the weights whether it be hand weights, a barbell or a machine, you are going to want to do a few pushes and pulls just concentrating on not breaking the form of your body that you just finished adjusting. Then begin to focus in on the muscles in your back as you simulate pushing the weights up and pulling the weights in an even motion down. You don’t want to thrust up and then let gravity pull them down because that is not beneficial at all. Your movements need to be purposeful and strong as you work the weights with your specific muscle groups. When you pull the weights down with your shoulders back you can bring your weights/hands slightly back so that they are closer to your shoulders and really feel your back working in a way that if someone were to put two fingers between your shoulder blades, you would feel yourself smashing their fingers with them. Moving the weights at a concentrated pace rather than quickly will help build your your strength. As you get better, you will find that you can add more weight and more reps an build your endurance.
Remember to always focus on your form with shoulders back and long spine. Change it up each time you go first using challenging weights with higher reps and then heavier weights doing less reps.
TIP: Do not let your body or arms swing to move the weight. If you can not move the weight while standing still in your good form then you need to decrease your weights and avoid injuries.
TIP: If you are at a health club or gym, ask a professional trainer to check out your form and make sure that you are doing the exercises correctly.