- Target muscle: None. The back in general. See synergists
- Synergists: Latissimus Dorsi, Teres Major, Teres Minor, Infraspinatus, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids, Posterior Deltoid, Sternal (Lower) Pectoralis Major
- Dynamic stabilizer: Triceps Brachii (long head only)
- Mechanics: Isolation
- Force: Pull
- Place two low chairs side by side, with a gap between them.
- Sit between the chairs, on the floor, with your legs straight.
- Place the backs of your upper arms onto the chairs and raise your butt off the floor so that your body is straight and rigid.
- Keeping your body rigid, exhale as you lift your body by pressing the backs of your upper arms down onto the chairs.
- Hold for a count of two and squeeze your back muscles.
- Inhale as you lower your body to the starting position.
- Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Comments and tips
- The elbow lift is a poor back exercise, with a very short range of motion. Use it at home only if you can’t make it to the gym and if you do not have a barbell with which to do the bent-over barbell row, dumbbells with which to do the bent-over dumbbell row, or a chair under which to do the inverted row.
- Do not allow your butt to sag. Keep your hips straight and rigid.
- Make the elbow lift exercise easier by bending your knees.
- Do not flare your elbows out too much. If your elbows are perpendicular to your torso, you will target your posterior deltoid instead of your back muscles.
- This exercise is also known as the reverse push-up. However, “reverse push-up” is also used to describe a bunch of other exercises, including the inverted row.
Elbow lift video
The demonstration of the elbow lift (called a reverse push-up in this video) is at approximately 2:55.