This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
For a back workout that hits your muscles from multiple angles, alternate swim strokes with pull-downs, using a cable machine to work your back across and between your shoulder blades. The squat, which takes advantage of the added tension of the cable, adds a bonus leg workout.
Attach a single handle to the high setting on a cable machine. Stand facing the machine with your feet hip-width apart and grasp the handle in your right hand, with palm facing downward. Bend your knees slightly and press your hips back in a power stance, keeping your back flat (see Photo 1).
- From the starting position, bring your right arm straight down in a swim stroke or ski-pole motion, keeping your elbow straight and your palm downward. Bring the arm down until it is in line with your back and slightly behind your right hip (see Photos 2 and 3).
- Allow your arm to return to the starting position, following the same trajectory so that the movement comes entirely from your shoulder (see Photo 4).
- Again from the starting position, bend your right elbow and bring it back and to the side, until your hand and the cable are next to your shoulder, keeping your palm facing front as if you are doing a wide pull-down (see Photo 5 and 6).
- Open your elbow and return your arm to the starting position (see Photo 7).
- From the starting position again, sit into a deep squat, bending your hips and pressing them back behind you as you sit deep into your heels. Keep your back flat, and your arm extended with the palm still down (see Photo 8 and 9).
- Repeat the entire sequence for a total of 10 repetitions on the right side, and then switch the handle to the left hand and repeat for another 10 reps.