Isometric training is effective for maintaining your strength and building upon it. While not as effective in doing so as concentric or eccentric training, isometric training is much safer. Isometric exercises require you to hold a fixed position, rather than shortening or lengthening your muscles, which is what concentric and eccentric motions require you to do. You can do isometric exercises for all of your muscles, including the large latissimus dorsi of your back. Exercising this muscle is important for maintaining a strong and healthy back.
Latissimus Dorsi Anatomy
The latissimus dorsi is the largest of the back muscles, and all other muscles of the torso for that matter. This muscle comprises several segments, all of which extend from your upper arm bones across to the center of your middle and lower back regions. Your lats do two primary things: adduct and extend your shoulders. Adduction is when you move your arms toward your sides. Extension is when you move your arms toward the back.
Pullups are by far the most commonly performed back exercise, and this is because they are excellent for strengthening the lats. The main movement during pullups is adduction. To do pullups isometrically, first grip the pullup bar with an overhanded shoulder-width handgrip and hang from the bar with your arms extended. Then, pull yourself upward until your upper chest is right beneath the bar and hold this position for as long as your can. Even if your arms start to straighten as they fatigue, thus lowering your body, keep holding the position for as long as you can.
The other commonly performed lat exercise is the row. You do extension during this movement. First, hold a barbell or dumbbell with each hand in an overhanded grip, lean forward until your back is parallel to the ground, bend your knees a bit and position the weights below your torso. Start with your arms straight. Raise the weights up and close to your mid-torso by extending your shoulders and bending your arms. Once the weights are almost touching your mid-torso, maintain the position for as long as possible.
Do no more than two isometric exercises per lat workout. Perform three sets of each exercise, holding for as long as possible. Aim to hold each position for at least 30 seconds, but it is best you hold until muscular failure for best results. Before and after each workout that you do, perform a five- to 10-minute warmup and cool-down. Example activities you can do are slow walks and jump roping.
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