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Lat Training for Better Shoulder Function – Episode 306

Video Highlights

- The lat/shoulder connection.
- Vital contract/relax skill concept.
- Clear drill demo.

Hi guys! Dr. Cobb back with you.

Today I’m going to show you one of our top go to shoulder exercises that I guarantee you’ll fall in love with… eventually.

A few weeks ago we released a blog and in that blog I showed you how to do a little upper trapezius release by really learning how to contract the muscle and then how to relax the muscle.

We got so many comments on this and so many questions about, “Hey Doc, can we do more of those? Do you have some other muscles?”


We have a lot and all of them can be taken from the same perspective of hey, how does the muscle work? Can we actually contract it so that we can then learn to relax it and this is such a key skill, it’s one of the things we talk all the time about in all of our courses that your brain, the way that your brain works, it gets input from the body, it decides what to do with it, it then creates an output.

If you want to be an amazing athlete, you want to be pain free, you have to have great contraction maps meaning you have to be able to find muscles and contract them but you also have to have a great relaxation map and so we go through the body extensively in a lot of our courses going, “Hey, here’s what this muscle does, here’s how it functions, now here’s how to contract it, here’s how to relax it.”

I decided to shoot another video on one of my very favorite muscles to teach because so many people know about your “bat wing” muscles, your lats. I hear about lats all the time, they’re like, “Ah, I can’t find my lats.” They’re back here, so they’re there, just whether or not you can contract them is kind of the issue that you run into.

What we’re going to do is we’re going to show you how the lat actually works so we’re going to contract it and then once we’ve contracted it we’re going to relax it.

I would love for you to actually test some stuff before we do this because I said this is a go to shoulder exercise. So many people have problems with this muscle; from overhead activity, doing lots of pull-ups in the gym, kipping pull-ups et cetera, if you’re into that kind of stuff, if you play tennis, you throw things for a living, not even for a living, if you just throw stuff, a lot of people wind up with shoulder issues because the lat is not being well controlled. Meaning we’re getting lousy output from the brain because we’re not getting enough input.

I want you to go ahead and test some ranges of motion, test to see how your shoulders feel, I like to do my internal and external rotations, I like to do these things called abductions and test flexions. You may want to come over, if you’ve got some place that you can do some pull-ups, do a pull-up, just see how the muscle feels or how your shoulders feel.

Most people that we work with, honestly, if I asked them “How do your shoulders feel once you get up into this position?” Most people say they feel pretty tight, they actually feel are kind of uncomfortable.

As I said, most people, once they learn this exercise fall in love with it. Here’s how it works.

We’re going to work on your right side, okay? The lat does a number of different things in the body, the first thing that it does is shoulder extension so I’m going to actually turn sideways and what I want you to do is take your right arm, I want you to lock your elbow and I want you to pull your arm backward. This is called shoulder extension, so you’re going to extend the shoulder.

The next thing that I want you to do is I want you to internally rotate the shoulder, so first we’re extending, now we’re internally rotating. I’m going to turn more, now I want you to bring your hand toward your left pocket. This is called adduction.

So far we’ve extended the shoulder, we internally rotated it, we adducted it, now from here we have two major things left; we’re going to pull the shoulder blade down while we’re maintaining tension on all these others and then we’re going to bend our knees and we’re going to actually tilt our pelvis like this.

My pelvis is going into what’s called an anterior tilt and all that’s happening at the same time, so extend, internally rotate, reach for the opposite pocket, pull the shoulder blade down, bend the knees, kind of push your butt back, and now try and bring all of those together at the same time.

I said you’ll eventually love the exercise because the first time most people do this, they cramp. They’re like, “Ah, ah,” because it’s really, really an intense contraction. Remember, go slowly when you do this, slowly.

Here we go, one more time. Nice and tall, arm goes back, turns in, reaches for the opposite pocket, need to press the shoulder blade down, bend the knees, butt goes back a little, now do all that all at the same time, build up the tension slowly, five seconds.

Now we want to start to reverse it.

First thing you’re going to do, tuck the pelvis the other way, raise the shoulder blade, externally rotate the shoulder, bring it forward, and out to the side. Now if I really tuck the pelvis and push the shoulder blade up, getting a nice stretch through the lat. That one will make you sweat too when you first do it.

If you’ve explored that, so remember, the whole idea here is we go through all the motions to contract the muscle and then when we reverse them, to stretch the muscle. We work on the contractile map and relaxation map. If you do that maybe two or three repetitions, what you should find is that that shoulder feels incredible loose and probably more stable and healthier than it has in a really long time.

Let’s wrap this up, let’s go through it one more time and show you how to apply it.

What we’re going to do is we’re going to contract the muscle first, we’re going to come back, we’re going to come across, turn in, shoulder blade down, butt goes back, and we’re going to create a contraction. Do that maybe five little pulses. One, two, three, four, five.

It’s nice and tight, so what do we do now? We’re going to go the opposite direction.

We’re going to tuck the pelvis the other way, raise the shoulder way up, turn the shoulder way out, come up, get out to the side, do all that at once, which you’re going to get a nice stretch and we’re going to go one, two, three, four, five. Those are our little pulses, all right?

That’s how you actually do the exercise, if it feels good to you, shoulder feels awesome, feel more stable, try it three to five times a day.

If you have any questions about how to apply this, or any problems in the setup, please let us know, otherwise remember I called an exercise that you’ll learn to love… eventually.

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