The 10-Second Muscle Test
There's a simple exercise that will expose an upper back weakness almost immediately. It's called "scapular retraction," and all you need is pullup bar to perform the self-test. If you can't hold this exercise for 10 seconds, then you have glaring weakness in the muscles around your shoulder blades. That's important because a weakness in these muscles leads to unstable shoulders—and that limits your strength and muscle gains in nearly every upper body exercise, including the bench press and arm curl. Ready to test yourself? Follow the directions below.
· Grab a pullup bar with an overhand grip and hang at arm's length.
· Without moving your arms, pull your shoulder blades down and back. Hold this position for 10 seconds. If you can't maintain the hold for that duration, this exercise should instantly become a part of your workout.
Use This Move in Your Workout
To incorporate this exercise into your routine, try placing it at the end of your workout, two times a week. Do two to three sets of 10 repetitions. For each repetition, try holding the up position for 2 to 5 seconds. Gradually increase the length of your hold, until you're holding for a full 5 seconds each repetition. Then try to work your way up to 10 seconds per rep.
For complete instructions and full-color photos of more than 600 exercises, along with hundreds of workouts and useful fitness tips, check out musclemorphosis.com.