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Foam Roller: Upper Back Relief

A lot of people suffer from tightness in their upper back and shoulders.  Sometimes it feels like knots between your shoulder blades, while other times the pain might feel like it’s spreading from your upper back into your neck. The main cause of upper back and neck pain is a sedentary lifestyle, and extended use of computers, phones, and tablets. Upper back pain also easily leads to neck pain.

The key to foam rolling your upper body is actually to not roll much at all. Instead, use the roller to isolate smaller areas and allow them to release slowly from the pressure of your body’s weight on the roller.

If you need a reminder, read the general instructions on how to foam rolling, here.


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Foam Roller: Lats Relief

Sore, tight, or injured lats might make it uncomfortable to take deep breaths. Tight latissimus dorsi has been shown to be one cause of chronic shoulder pain and chronic back pain. Because the latissimus dorsi connects the spine to the humerus, tightness in this muscle can manifest as either sub-optimal shoulder function which leads to chronic pain or tendinitis in the tendinous fasciae connecting the latissimus dorsi to the thoracic and lumbar spine.

Foam rolling your lats is a simple process that helps and prevents. Please, read the general instructions on how to foam rolling, here.


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Resistance Band Standing Row

Time to work our lats with resistance bands.
Anchor the band at the bottom of the door. Facing the door, grip a handle in each hand and stand 3 to 4 feet away from it. Feet with a wide stance, bend your knees and keep your back and head straight, your chest up, and shoulders backward. Your arms should be straight and pointed up towards the door anchor.
Exhale, gently contract your lats, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull the handles back until your hands are right below your chest.
Inhale and gently return to the starting position. Repeat.


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Reverse Grip Bent-Over Rows

Barbell Rows are a full body, compound exercise. They work your upper backlower backhips, and arms.

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, with your toes pointed forward.
Grasp the bar just wider than the knees with palms facing up. Keep your spine straight, shoulder blades pulling down and back, chest lifted and head in line with your spine. Your heels should be on the floor.

Exhale. Lift the bar off the floor by simultaneously straightening your hips and knees to a 3/4 upright position where the barbell rests midway on your thigh with your arms straight. This is the starting position. Inhale.

Exhale again and slowly pull the bar toward your torso, contracting your lats, until it touches your abdomen. Maintain a rigid spine without any movement or change in the shape in your back. Keep both feet firmly planted on the floor while maintaining a slight bend in the knees and hips.

Inhale and slowly lower the bar back to the starting position while maintaining your back, hip, knee, and foot position. Keep the shoulder blades squeezing together and the abdominal muscles engaged. Repeat.

At the end of the set, bend the hips and knees to lower the bar to the floor.


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Swiss Ball Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

The primary muscle worked during the straight-arm pullover is the pectoralis major, which is the largest muscle in the chest. Your lats are also heavily involved. Both are responsible for performing shoulder extension during the pullover. The posterior head of the deltoid also assists shoulder extension. Your triceps brachii, at the back of your arms, work to keep your elbows extended as you lift and lower the dumbbell.

Sit on the stability ball holding the dumbbell with both hands. Slowly begin walking your feet forward as you tuck your tail under, lowering your spine onto the ball as you walk your feet away from the ball until your head, shoulders and upper back are resting on the ball. Feet should be parallel and shoulder width apart. Knees are bent to about 90 degrees with your thighs and torso at or nearly parallel to the floor. Distribute your weight evenly through your feet. Finally, lift the dumbbell straight up over your chest as the palms rest on the underside of one of the sides of the dumbbell.

Inhale and slowly lower the weight down in an arc behind your head, while keeping your arms straight, stretching out your chest.

Exhale as you return the dumbbell back to the starting position.


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