Thursday, June 24, 2010

Growing Wings

I am super thrilled to announce that my very first training article went live on the Muscle & Strength website yesterday! 

Lats: they can make you or break you as a figure competitor. I remember my first competition, standing on stage, hearing people in the audience frantically yelling “OPEN!!! OPEN!!!” I remember being in my back pose on that stage, thinking…”wow, somebody up here really needs to get their lats out.” Lo and behold, that somebody was ME! The bigger issue, however, was that in addition to getting my lats “out”, I just needed to get some lats. Period.

I began my quest to grow my lats (aka: wings) and in 12 months time had added 5 inches of width to my back, naturally, with heavy weight and proper nutrition. Of course, in order to gain muscle, we ladies need to eat a surplus of calories to obtain the growth. That surplus must be the right kind of calories, it’s not simply a license to eat!

The most important nutritional tip for gaining muscle that I can offer is proper post-workout nutrition and supplementation. I have had great results using SciVation’s Xtend. I sip on this during a lift and during cardio. For my post-workout shake I drink 1-2 scoops of Elite Dymatize Whey with Zico Coconut Water, a great natural source of carbs and electrolytes.

The key to a killer lat workout is first knowing how to isolate the lats. For many women, this is a hard muscle to connect with in the mind. It helps to do some “lat-activation” exercises at the beginning of the workout. It’s so easy to use the biceps and other assisting muscle groups when training the back muscles. Real growth comes when you are truly isolating the muscle group you are using which means forming a solid mind-muscle connection.

My favorite “lat-activation” exercise is done by hanging from a pull up/chin up bar and simply using just the lats to move the body. At first you will likely only move just a couple of inches. Go from a dead hang, then use just the lats to create the movement upward. Do 3-5 reps like this, slow and controlled, doing a total of 3 sets before beginning the workout.

The following workout should be performed with the heaviest weight you can lift with PROPER form. Proper form is critical!! To really focus on that mind-muscle connection with your back muscles, you don’t want to be using speed and momentum to move the weights. Slow and controlled. This workout should be intense, meaning heavy with short rest intervals. I like to take 60 seconds rests between sets but sometimes will stretch it to 90 seconds if I’m trying to add load. This is a great workout for a 5 day split. If back is your lagging body part move the back workout to the first day of your training week.

Wide Grip Pull Ups – assisted at first or negatives with the goal of being able to do them unassisted
5 x 8-10

Seated Wide Grip Lat Pull Down
4 x 10

Hammer Strength Unilateral Hi Row
4 x 10

Seated Cable Row – Narrow Grip
4 x 12

Single Arm Dumbell Row
3 x 12

Straight Arm Standing Cable Pull Down
3 x 15

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