Back-levers or planches.
Description: Raise the body to a
horizontal position, facing the ground.
Motions trained: Raising your arms over your head.
Main muscles used: Deltoids
Other muscles: Lats (for the negatives), abs
How to do it: Get
to a pair of bars and get on them with your arms straight.
Tuck up your legs and using your delotids, raise your hips as you lower
your head. Pause for a second, then lower
yourself and repeat. Another really great variation is done in
conjunction with a front lever. Lever yourself so your toes are at the
ceiling, reach and project so your body is ramrod straight, then just
try to slow your descent. Eventually you will get so you can just stop
halfway down, your body parallel to the floor.
How to work up to it: Use dumbbells and an incline bench. Lie on
with the bells at your waist then raise your arms over your head,
keeping them straight. Return
to the starting position. Keep the small of your back pressed into the
bench. This is for safety
since a common mistake comes from trying to use your back muscles for
this, which can injure
them. Use smaller bells if you have trouble. The bench
should be at 20 degrees away from vertical. Note that when you do it on
the bars, it removes all stress from your back.
Ramping it up: Put your legs out in
the chinese splits and gradually (over months) bring them together so
you are straight as an arrow. If you really trust your balance, try
going all the way up into a handstand. No I don't do that but gymnasts
Do's and don'ts: Don't swing your legs. Use your deltoids. Be
to flare your lats before moving. Slow yourself down when returning to
the starting position.
This works the complimentary muscles as well.
Comments: This movement also combines well with things like
pushups. Probably the
most back-friendly way to get high loads for deltoid work. Standing
deltoid raises often
exact a heavy toll on the lower back but this has no load there at all
– the lower body is
the load. Gymnasts call these planches, but since you are levering
yourself and leading
with your back, these are also called back-levers.