Lasting Lats

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Lasting Lats
Strengthening your arms and upper back will help your control and form as a marching performer.

For marching members, the arms and upper back are extremely important. They are needed for performing with and carrying instruments or equipment, they’re the parts of the body that are the most visible on the field, and they’re the most important parts of the body for gesturing.

The arms and upper back are also where people carry an incredible amount of stress.

Here are some exercises to keep your arms and upper back in tiptop shape.

Lat Pulldowns

Your latissimus dorsi muscles start just under your shoulder blades and run down the back sides of the body and stop just above your hips. Your lats assist with your overall posture, and strong lats can help prevent low back pain. You can perform this exercise on a machine at the gym with a lat pulldown bar or with a set of weights.

I like to use 8-pound weights for this exercise, but if you carry a large drum around or you lift heavier weights, then I would suggest using 10 to 20 pounds.

Start with your feet a bit wider than your hips with your knees bent. Your feet should be slightly turned out. Your arms should start out to the side of your body, up and wide with your elbows bent a bit more than 90 degrees.

To do the exercise, bring your arms up overhead and then back down to your starting position. That’s one rep. Do two sets of 10. You can drop down to a lighter set of weights for the second set if needed.

Lat Fly

Keeping your arms in the same starting setup as the Lat Pulldowns, squeeze your arms in toward your body in front of your face and then open back out to a wide stance. This is one rep. You should feel the muscles work in the outer arms; your triceps are the power for this move. Keep your elbows parallel to the ground. Do 10 to 20 reps.

Lat Row

With your feet in a wide position, hold the weights with your palms facing the floor. Reach both arms out diagonally in front of you toward the floor, so that your arms are straight, then pull back with bent elbows. That’s one rep. Do 10 of these with both arms and then do 10 with single arms. You can add a pulse in the knees with the second set.

Bicep Row

This exercise is similar to the Lat Row with one difference: Your palms should face up. From your wide second, reach both arms out diagonally in front of you toward the floor, so your arms are straight, then pull back with bent elbows. That’s one rep. Do 10 with both arms and 10 with single arms. You can add a pulse in the knees with the second set. Make sure to focus on squeezing the shoulder blades in and together.

Illustrations by Andriy Yankovskyy

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