There are few things in this world I fear more than bats. You can blame my irrational fear on their connection to rabies, their nocturnal nature, or the fact that they are essentially glorified mice with wings. But, if I have ever to build an arc, you can take a pretty good guess at which animal I'd be leaving behind.
That said, there is one exercise that has a loose connection with bats that I just can't get enough of called, you guessed it, "batwings." What's with the name? Well, it's because when you're doing them correctly, you look like (*gulp*) a bat.
Is that it? Well, yes. That's it. Now go home, sleep, and when you wake up tomorrow morning, your rhomboids will be the first thing to greet you. You can then send legendary strength coach Dan John your lovely thank you notes, as it's his original brainchild.
In all seriousness, it may not look like you're doing much but this exercise is terrific for a bunch of different reasons. First, as you age, your body starts to get tight in certain places and get weak in others (for the purists out there, it's Janda's upper and lower crossed syndrome). As this happens, people start to get more and more slouched over, ruining their posture and mobility.
Batwings are a phenomenal way to combat this consequence of aging as it targets the musculature in your back that's the "weaker" part of the aging equation. Also, it helps work against the slouched forward posture we all have from being slumped over a computer for the better part of the day.
So how does one incorporate these into their routine? Start with a light weight, and if you have access to kettlebells, I prefer to use them due to the distribution of the weight. Simply do a few sets of three or four holds for 5-10 seconds. Next time, increase the number of sets, the number of seconds, or the overall weight. Keep increasing one of those variable each workout and that's it.
It may not be hopping under the squat or bench bar, but this exercise is simply phenomenal for training many people's weaknesses. We all have the problem of trying to train the muscles we see in the mirror, and ignoring those that are hidden. Batwings are a great way of reversing that trend.
Will this exercise reverse my opinion on bats? Probably not. But, if you're anything like me, it'll help you stay calm whenever "bat" is mentioned in a gym setting.