The Shadow!

That's what I want people to be thinking when I am onstage for my shows. I want to hit a front or rear lat spread and have people have to move their heads from side to side to see the whole thing, even the people in the back of the show.

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"Winged Freak Terrorizes Gotham,
Wait 'Til They Get a Load of Me!"

That's what I want people to be thinking when I am onstage for my shows. I want to hit a front or rear lat spread and have people have to move their heads from side to side to see the whole thing, even the people in the back of the show. Back development is tricky.

There are so many parts to it, it is hard to chisel out all of them. This article is going to talk about how I have developed my back into what it is today. Personally I think my back is one of my best body parts, and here is why.....ROW ROW ROW. That's right, my main movement, is rowing. I usually do 4 exercises with 3 sets or 3 exercises with 4 sets. No matter which one it is the majority of them are rows.

    NOTE: This doesn't include the beginning, which is always weighted chins to the front. Lets walk through a typical routine of mine that I perform once a week.


Typical Routine

4 Sets: Hanging Chins To The Front:

    Increase the weight every set. This is used primarily as a warm up, but still greatly aids in the development.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Hanging Chins To The Front.
Video Guide: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod

3 Sets: Bent Over Barbell Rows:

    This is one of my favorite exercises that I do to get blood rushing through my back. I learned the value of this exercise from Dorian Yates, "The Shadow."

    I like to alternate between an over and underhand grip on the barbell that is usually no closer than 2 inches inside shoulder with and no farther away than 5 inches outside of shoulder width. I like to pull it up in contour with my legs right up into my lower ab region with an intense squeeze at the top.

    I focus on pulling with my elbows and middle back. I am bent over at about a 45-50 degree angle with the ground. I like to go as heavy as I can but still feel an intense squeeze at the top, and its still not too heavy to handle.

    But if there is one thing I learned in math class its: Heavy=Thick. I try to shoot for about 8-12 solid reps. This is my main exercise that I pick out to do. My partner and I alternate workouts with who picks what and stuff. Just to keep it interesting.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Bent Over Barbell Rows.
Video Guide: Windows Media - Real Player

3 Sets: T-Bar Rows:

    Some gyms have a T-bar machine and some don't. I am lucky enough that my gym has one(my partner and I are about the only kids that use it though). We like this exercise to follow up the BORs because it is another great movement to build bulk, but in places that are hard to reach, the middle.

    We can go heavier on this because we don't have to support ourselves. We usually use an overhand grip and keep out elbows out and pull them back to try to touch each other at the top of the movement and squeeze for a count or two.

    This really etches out and fills in the middle/upper portion of the back muscle, which is critical. We keep the reps a little higher on this, about 10-15 because we don't get tired as fast because we aren't supporting our own bodyweight.


Click Image To Enlarge.
T-Bar Rows.

3 Sets: Seated V-bar Cable Rows:

    This is one of my personal favorites for building up the lower outside sweep of the lat. Sit upright as much as possible with maybe a little lean backward. Chest puffed out and high, pull with only your elbows keeping your arms and elbows locked in close to your body(This helps take tension off the forearms and delts and etc) all the way until the bar touches your abs.

    Keep it low, again I drag it about 1/2 inch from my legs to my lower abs. This helps me use just my lats and I love the way this feels. It takes out the rear delts and traps also. On the way back down we do lean forward a little bit to get a good stretch but not too far you ruin your form.

    I like to keep the reps higher and higher towards the end of the workout like this to get my muscles filled with nutrient rich blood. So I usually do no less than 15 reps on this. Still heavy though, very heavy. I keep that mind-muscle connection to get the full number of reps in. Remember about the winged freak terrorizing.......


Click Image To Enlarge.
Seated V-bar Cable Rows.
Video Guide: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod

3 Sets: Pull Downs:

    Pull downs for us are usually just something to finish off with that ensures we have hit our back from every angle imaginable and also to force as much blood into it before we leave as we can.

    We do all sorts of pull downs, palms facing each other, reverse grip, super wide, medium grip, underhand grip, whatever our back feels like it needs that day according to what we have already done to it.

    This is usually done light with high reps to make sure nothing but our back muscles are pulling the weight down and squeezing it at the bottom. Again, we try to touch or elbows at the bottom of the contraction and squeeze a lot.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Pull Downs.
Video Guide: Windows Media - Real Player


Back Rules

Various exercises are always used to rows and etc to keep it fresh and keep using different angles of attack. Here are some of my all time back rules that I incorporate into my regiment.

  1. Always pull with your back and elbows, take out as much forearm, bicep and rear delt as you can.
  2. SQUEEZE. I cannot emphasize this enough. Your back is so easy to manipulate once you figure out how to use it. Go slow, light and take your time to figure it out. It will make a HUGE difference in your development.
  3. Row. Rowing is what is going to make your back big, thick, and wide. Yes I said it, wide.
  4. Deadlift. Deadlifting is important to any back routine. It is the foundation and structure of all championship physiques. Do it, love it.

Let me know if any questions arise or you need help with anything. Have a good Christmas everyone and stay away from the junk food.

Jason Bennett
Got your tickets......To the GUN SHOW

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4