Starting Position: Adjust the seat height to a level that positions the machine handles approximately level with your shoulders. Position your feet firmly on the floor or foot pads to stabilize your body. Sit upright and extend your arms to grasp the handles without rounding your shoulders forward. Adjust the position the chest pad to contact your chest lightly. Stiffen (“brace”) your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine, but do not press your low back into the back rest. Maintain the natural arch in your low back and avoid arching your back throughout the exercise. Depress and retract your scapulae (pull shoulders back and down), maintain a neutral wrist position (i.e., wrist in line with your forearms) and attempt to hold these positions throughout the exercise.
From this start position with your torso vertical, scapulae (shoulder blades) flat against your ribcage and arms extended, gently exhale and perform a pulling movement. Flex (bend) your elbows and pull them towards your chest, but try to flair your elbows out from your sides, keeping them as level with your shoulders as possible. Continue to maintain a neutral wrist position, and contact with your chest against the chest pad. Avoid leaning back and arching your low back and attempt to minimize any movement of your head during the movement.
Continue pulling until your elbows reach level with, or pass just behind your shoulders. Pause momentarily then slowly return to your starting position, allowing the weight to pull your arms to move forward and elbows to extend (straighten) in a slow, controlled manner; the weight should straighten your arms but use your back muscles to resist the pull as the handles move away from your body, stopping when your arms are fully extended. Maintain an upright trunk position with your spine straight and your chest lifted upwards toward the ceiling. Do not let your spine bend forward and your back to round during this exercise. Repeat the movement for a specific number of repetitions.
Exercise Variation: To increase the exercise intensity and involve additional exercises, perform the following variations:
(a) Perform unilateral (one arm at a time) pulls
(b) Move the chest pad away from your body, which will now require a greater effort to stabilize your trunk as you perform the pulling movement.
Allowing your shoulders to round forward as your arms extend will allow you to pull with more force. However, learn how to perform a pulling motion without scapulae (shoulder blade) movement first before introducing shoulder movement. Additionally, reduce unnecessary stresses into your low back by avoiding any backwards lean during the pull movements.