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The Biomechanics of an IYTA

The IYTA might sound like alphabet soup, but it packs a powerful punch for your upper body. This versatile exercise serves as a gentle introduction for newcomers while adding dumbbells transforms it into an advanced exercise for advanced clients. The beauty of the IYTA lies in its ability to address multiple aspects of your upper body, promoting strength, mobility, and coordination. This blog will explore the IYTA in detail. It'll break down the benefits, dissect the muscles it engages, discuss proper execution, explore modifications to suit various needs, and even highlight common pitfalls to avoid.

The IYTA is an upper body and shoulder exercise that serves as a mobility drill beneficial for clients with neck, upper back, and shoulder dysfunction or a strength exercise for the shoulders. Stability and strength are essential in the shoulder as it is a highly mobile joint. It requires stability provided by strength training to ensure that it can meet the demands placed on it during everyday activities.

When executed with the client's body weight, this exercise can help the client improve the movement and the range of motion around the shoulder. When performed with dumbbells, the IYTA can also strengthen the back and shoulder muscles. It targets the muscles of the shoulders, rotator cuffs, and upper back and improves scapular movement, strength, and stability in the shoulder.

This exercise is a suitable addition to training regimens as it is a combination movement. This exercise can contribute significantly to upper body development as it indirectly targets almost all upper body muscles.

Muscles Involved

The IYTA targets many muscles in the back. Muscles involved in the work are the middle and lower trapezius, the latissimus dorsi, the rhomboids, the infraspinatus, the supraspinatus, the teres minor, and the subscapularis.

To further break down this exercise, we will look at each letter in the movement and the muscles involved in each part of the movement. First is the "I," which focuses on muscles in the upper back, specifically the lower trapezius. In this portion of the exercise, the scapulas travel down your back. This movement will help strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, making moving the scapulas up and down easier. The "Y" targets the lower portion of the shoulder blades, specifically the lower trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and the erector spinae. The next part of the movement is the "T." This part of the exercise focuses on the middle trapezius and the rhomboids. During this movement, the scapulas retract and come together. The "A" is the final portion of the exercise. The scapulas squeeze together in the A, working the middle trapezius and rhomboids.

Execution of the IYTA

To perform an IYTA, you will need a light pair of dumbbells of equal weight. You will also need a physioball, an inclined bench lowered to about 45 degrees from the floor, or a mat to perform on the floor.

Lay on the physioball or the bench so your chest rests on the bench or ball, or lay on the floor prone if executing the exercise on the floor. The movement starts with the I. Next, pick up the weights and lift both arms straight out in front of your head, keeping your arms straight and close to your ears. Bring the arms back down to a neutral position, slow and controlled. Next, bring the arms up and out to a 45-degree angle from the head, forming a Y with your arms. Return the arms to a neutral position in a slow and controlled manner. Next, bring the arms up and out to each side, forming a T with your arms. Return the arms to a neutral position. Finally, bring the arms up and back at a 45-degree angle from the hips with palms facing down to form an A, and then return the arms to neutral and repeat. At the top of each movement, hold for 2-3 seconds before returning to the starting/neutral position.


For the IYTA, it is typical to use lighter weights as the exercise targets smaller in the upper back. However, this exercise can also be done weightless or with light resistance bands.

The IYTA can also be done in different positions to accommodate diverse clientele. For example, doing the IYTA from a standing position with light resistance bands is suitable for clients with hypertension or pregnant women. Similarly, performing the exercise in a prone position on an incline bench is a suitable alternative for clients with balance problems.

Common Mistakes

Common mistakes for this exercise include:

  • Bending the elbows.

  • Using the arm to lift instead of the shoulder blade/back.

  • Arching your back.

  • Lifting your chest off the bench or floor

  • Using momentum to swing the weight into position.

When the elbows are bent, and momentum is used to get the weight into position, it makes the exercise less effective and takes some of the work out of the muscle. When performing this exercise, it is imperative to do every movement correctly, as improper form can lead to back, neck, or shoulder injury.

Fitness is for everyone, and the IYTA is an adaptable exercise suitable for many individuals, regardless of their fitness level, while offering an effective approach to improving upper body strength, mobility, and stability. Whether you're a beginner looking to improve your shoulder health or an advanced athlete aiming to challenge your muscles in new ways, the IYTA has something to offer and makes a valuable addition to any fitness routine.


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