LAT ACTIVATION EXERCISES: The reason you’re NOT SWIMMING well might not be YOUR FAULT

LAT ACTIVATION EXERCISES: The reason you’re NOT SWIMMING well might not be YOUR FAULT


– What’s up, Trainiacs? Today, very quick video to talk about how you can use something like a TRX band and the infamous stretchy cords to help fix what is probably one of the
single biggest impediments to age group triathletes swimming fast. (techno music) So if any of you been around for a while and watched any of the
swim analysis videos, you know that I have a
shameful straight arm pull. And what that is, is as you’re swimming, what you want is to have a nice 90-degree bend here and you want that bend
to allow your forearm to basically be vertical and your bicep to also catch water. What ends up happening is
as you’re pushing back, you got a really big surface area here. What most triathletes end up doing is they end up letting that elbow drop sliding back like this, and
because they’re doing that, they are not grabbing
nearly as much water. This is a very natural
for a lot of people to do, because our body tends
to gravitate towards the path of least resistance, so, this, a lot of resistance, but you’re going to go very fast, because you’ve got a lot to grab onto. This, not a lot of resistance,
easier on your body, because you don’t have a
lot that you’re actually grabbing onto. What people also do is they might also turn their hand in like this, and have their palm pointing basically across their body and slicing through the water. Instead of like this where you’re grabbing a whole lot of surface area. Now, “Why do people do
this?” You might ask. Number one, what you hear a lot is that you want that early vertical
forearm from swim coaches. You want that forearm
as vertical as possible, as early as possible. I’m gonna credit a lot of this to Ger Rodrigues from Tower 26 who says, “That most age group swimmers “don’t have a swim background “and we run in triathlon “which is very corrosive “on the flexibility of our body. “We just literally don’t
have the flexibility “to make our arm do that.” Totally fine. But we still wanna get our arm in that nice 90-degree position because think of it this way, you’ve got your arm in a
nice 90-degree position, there, and there, You can engage those lats, those really nice big
muscles, and you can push with a lot more resistance and force launching yourself forward. If you’re straight, go like
this, where’s all the pressure? It’s gonna be on your little
muscles in the shoulder which is why your boy
triathlon Taren ends up having a fairly sore shoulder
and I have to hang a lot. So how do we fix these issues? For starters, fixing the flexibility that’s holding you back from being able to have that nice catch
is a much harder thing to do than you might think. To end up actually lengthening your muscle fibers and making them longer and more flexible, you have to stretch somewhere around two to four minutes every single day for about three months. Most people aren’t gonna do that. However, one of the big
things that I just realized, that is going to hold specifically me back is because I have a history,
like most triathletes do, of sitting at a desk and
not being very active from side to side, my lats
have actually gone to sleep. You can test this on
yourself by going like this and seeing if you can flex your lat muscle and make it actually protrude and firm up. In a lot of people’s
cases, in mine especially, I had MTK put her hand
there and I literally was not budging it with all my might. So here are the two things that you can do to end up reawakening those lats. Just like we have to reawaken our gluts with things like clamshell movement just to get that glut firing again, we can fix that lat with
these two movements. If you have access to a TRX machine or really anything that’ll
end up anchoring a hand here, you can go like this. Put your feet in a little bit and have a straight line from the rope through your forearm and
keep that line straight, and then pull that elbow in, and the key of this is to make sure there’s a straight line through your forearm all the way through Oooh, yeah, to the rope. If you end up going like
this, where that line from the forearm ends up
breaking from the line of the rope, you’re then working
the bicep and your deltoid. So you wanna keep that nice straight line, there, you see, how that works? Still straight and that’s
gonna activate your lat. If you don’t have access to that, you can use stretch cords
or just some Theraband, as I’m gonna show you right now. Start by anchoring the stretch
cords at about head height a long way out and then
step back quite a bit. You wanna load up a fair bit of resistance on these stretch cords, so that it’s heavy and resistant enough that you
can’t use your little muscles, that you need the bigger
muscles of your lats to end up doing this movement. What you end up doing is
you just very slowly rotate your hips like you are doing a swim stroke and then start the swim stroke and because there’s enough resistance, you’re gonna have to force yourself to use those lats, and I can feel it right now, and you can see that to be able to move that resistant band, I
gotta access those lats. Push down and access
the triceps at the end. You wanna pop, see how that
tricep is engaged at the end? Then, do almost like a swim stroke and do the same thing with the other hand and just do it very, very slowly, and the entire time that
you’re doing it, focus, Oooh, on loading up the resistance onto the lat right underneath the armpit. As you’re doing that and
focusing on your lats, think about keeping your
fingertips lower than your elbow. Think about keeping those fingertips pointed straight down,
also, not pointed in, not pointed out, but
pointed straight back, and then push back, breaking the wrist, so that the hand is still
pointing straight back, generating power. Do the same thing on both sides. Oh, yeah, oh yeah. Here’s the thing. The difference between this
and doing three minutes of stretching every single
day for three months or going in the gym and
actually building strength is all we’re trying to do is reconnect the neuromuscular patterns
that allow our brain to fire a specific muscle group. If you do this maybe
eight times on each side twice a day, at most,
ideally right before a swim, to re-engage the feeling of
“Alright, I’m gonna pull back,” and activate that, you’re
gonna be able to access those muscles. All of a sudden, instead
of your body forcing itself to have a straight arm, because
you literally can’t even access those lats, you’re gonna
be able to feel those lats, and gradually, you will be a better swimmer. So there you go, Trainiacs! Work on your lats. Work on your bent elbow catch. If you aren’t already subscribed, hit the subscribe button below. If you are subscribed, I wanna send y’all birthday cards to say “Thanks!” Actually, that would
be a cool thing to do. Later.

20 thoughts on “LAT ACTIVATION EXERCISES: The reason you’re NOT SWIMMING well might not be YOUR FAULT

  1. Lat strength is one of the most important things!! Im a long time swimmer and I still struggle with this, hence my string of shoulder injuries

  2. Attention Taren, during the resistance band swim stroke lat activation, you should recover your arm below your body like doggy paddles drill, slowly and in control, as you pulled back the band let it loose all the way front instead of recovering above. The problem is bands are too resistant for our weaker shoulder muscles during the recovery phase, you may end up injuring yourself, take care buddy

  3. PRO TIP to stretch "muscle fibers"… You actually dont have to! You just need to make your peripheral nervous system adapted to broader range of motion without triggering stress signals to your central nervous system. Look it up, but just trust me, i'm physiotherapist ;). Muscle actually needs to be immobilized (i.e cast treatment after fracture) for few weeks before stsrting to shorten its lenght.. doing stretch with stimuli to nervous system is the key! Lots of techniques out there.. I would recommend diaphgram breathing where relax and move is done at the deep exhale part of breathing cycle and hold at the powerful inhale.. I can get even you, YES you Taren to do front split in two months with my programming, if you are up to a little bet 😉 if i loose even if u do the work as programmed (sub 60min /week for 60 days) – I'll give you 1 week of fre Ironman Cabin time to do proper training camp in Finland 😉 I can even drive you around 🙂 @Tampere

  4. Thanks…great video! I was hoping you would do this video since your blog with Michael Collins. I've been working on connecting my arm to my body…pulling with my lats.

  5. My problem is my catch and pull is great and I'm pulling a lot of water back, problem is my muscles get gassed from pulling so much water back.

  6. Taren, could a wide grip pull up (wider than shoulder width) with you pulling up and finishing the pull up with the bar behind your head, do a similar thing?
    Soooooo many years ago it was an exercise an old swim coach had us do to isolate our lats

  7. These type of "efficient form" videos are by far the best you make!! I watched all your videos on running, and have already shaved 3 minutes off my average mile pace, just through efficiency with no extra effort 🙂

  8. Realized that I am doing it the wrong way. I have very powerful lats but don't know if I'm using them in the pool. Going to try this tip on Thursday in the pool! Thanks Taren!

  9. Thanks, very helpful. I am transitioning from Total Immersion to High Elbow Catch (HEC). Some HEC end the stroke a bit past the shoulder to avoid engaging the tricep because when you engage the tricep you are actually pushing water up, your body down…. and not forward… ie, wasting energy. So when the hand is as far back, before the shoulder starts to rotate, that is when you "fly" the hand outward, out of the water, and bring it forward to start the next stroke. Your thought?

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