STARTING POSITION: Sit in the machine, anchoring your lower extremity by adjusting the thigh pad to fit firmly against the top of your thighs. Stiffen (“brace”) your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine, and attempt to avoid any arching of your low back throughout the exercise. Reach up to grasp the bar, firmly gripping the bar with both hands. While your arms are extended overhead, depress and retract your scapulae (pull shoulders back and down) and attempt to hold this position throughout the exercise. Lean back slightly (no more than a 30 degree angle), using your legs to support your body (low back). Maintain your head aligned with your spine.
Slowly exhale and initiate the downward pull by first depressing (lower) your scapulae, then pulling the bar downward towards the top or mid-section of your chest. Attempt to pull in a motion that drives your elbows directly down towards the floor, bringing your elbows towards the sides of your torso. Avoid any additional backwards lean during the pull movement.
Continue pulling until the bar nears or touches your chest, or more importantly, you observe your elbows no longer moving downward, but now beginning to move backwards. Avoid any further pulling as this places additiomnal stresses into the shoulder joint.
Pause momentarily, then slowly return to your starting position by allowing the bar to move upwards until your elbows are fully extended, then allow your scapule to rise slightly. Repeat the movement.
Exercise Variation: Perform the exercise in a standing position with your feet in a staggered-stace (walking position). Maintain a slight bend in your knees and shift your weight back onto your rear leg to create the backward lean. Avoid flexing (bending) forward at the hips during the pulling movement.
This exercise targets the major back muscles effectively, but should be performed without compromise to the shoulder or low back. Follow the instructions provided to reduce the stress placed upon these two areas.