The Greatest Lats and Triceps Stretch in the Universe – The Butchers Block
Hey everyone, Coach Ethan here!
Today I will be going over an excellent stretch called the Butchers Block. This stretch is easy to set up in your room, at the office or in the gym (when they reopen). If you are at the gym, find a bench or box around knee height. If you are at home, you can use a chair or couch surface around the same height.
This stretch is highly beneficial if you do a lot of bench press, push ups or pull ups, if you need a quick movement break at work and want to fix that kyphotic posture, if you want to achieve an awesome handstand line or simply if you need a fun new stretch for your lats, chest and triceps.
-Put your hands together (pinky side by pinky side)
-Keeping hands together let your elbows rest on your chosen surface
-Put your head through the opening between your arms
-Let your palms rest on your upper back
-Think about opening the angle of your shoulders by trying to bring your body closer to the floor without moving the elbows off of the surface
-Hold for time (Recommended: 3 sets of 30s done 1-5x/week)
-Closer Hands = Higher difficulty
-Closer Elbows = Higher difficulty
-You can hold a broom or a rope to force your hands to remain fixed
-Hold weight to add intensity to the stretch
-If you want to focus the stretch on the shoulder joint keep your back rounded slightly and keep the ribs down and in by flexing your abdominals. If this isn’t done it becomes more of a global trunk extension exercise, focusing on stretching out the whole anterior chain as opposed to focusing mainly on the Latissimus Dorsi, Pectoralis Major and Triceps Brachii.
Details and Explanation
To understand why this stretch is so great we have to look at the muscles we are attempting to stretch and how they function.
–Triceps: Performs Elbow Extension, Assists with Shoulder Extension.
–Lats (Latissimus Dorsi): Performs Shoulder Extension, Adduction, Internal Rotation.
–Chest (Pectoralis Major): Performs Shoulder Adduction, Horizontal Adduction, Internal Rotation
What does this all mean? Don’t worry I’ll break it down for you.
Those are the muscles we want to stretch and how they function. Each of those muscles fully contract when they perform one or a combination of those movements.
So how do we stretch them?
We do the exact opposite movement to their function, which will inherently lengthen them, putting them in a stretched position!
Shoulder Flexion, External Rotation and Elbow Flexion = Stretch for Lats, Chest and Triceps!
If we take the shoulder out of extension and adduction by bringing our arms up in front of us with our elbows on the chair we are stretching our lats and chest. If we get the shoulder out of internal rotation by placing our elbows on the chair while keeping the wrists supinated and close together we are stretching the lats and chest even more. If we get the elbow out of an extended position by bending our arms and letting our palms touch our upper back we are stretching the triceps, and as the triceps assist with shoulder extension we get an added stretch by bring our arms in front of us and letting the elbows rest on the chair while the elbow is bent.
Aside from the aforementioned, this stretch has a couple of other great things going for it…
- easily add weight and intensity, which creates endless opportunity for flexibility and mobility gains through progressive overload
- can be done literally anywhere on any surface
- Most people have never experienced a stretch like this and will see very quick improvement using a new movement in their program or training.
For all these reasons this stretch is incredible.
Have fun trying the Butchers Block, and working your shoulder mobility!
– Coach Ethan