Alien Back - Build Your Back!

Mr. Olympia Lee Haney during his time had the widest pair of lats on stage. Then there was Lance Drewer, and Brian Bukcannon with his ultra small waist enlarging his lats even more.
Mr. Olympia Lee Haney during his time had the widest pair of lats on stage. Then there was Lance Drewer, and Brian Bukcannon with his ultra small waist enlarging his lats even more. Then Dorian Yates came along with his uncommon back development. But, who has the extraterrestrial back now? Currently that distinction goes to Mr. Olympia Ron Coleman - He's definitely wide! He's not from this planet. It takes great strength and training technique to build bulk, and definition for a big back of any size. If you want a back that's wide and thick then you have to understand that back development, just like any other body part, is due to genetics and body frame first and then training intensity with correct exercise movement. To gain size in back development first your training must concentrate on isolation, and feeling the movement rather than adding more weight.

Next to performing squats in-correctly, a lot of individuals use in-correct technique in their back training. The back is probably the most difficult body-part to train. Why is the back one of the hardest areas to train? Well, the back consists of so many interrelated muscle groups.

  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Teres major and minor
  • Rhomboids
  • The scapula
  • Trapezius
If we are to start on our trek into extraterrestrial back training then we will begin with the basics, then we better begin with the granddaddy of back training exercises, the BENT OVER BAR ROW. You thought I was going to say deadlifts, didn't you? Guess what, the deadlift, when done correctly, is not an absolute back movement. Here we go, off the beaten trail. Let me quickly explain. Take a moment and analyze the deadlift - either regular style or sumo style. Most of the movement incorporates quad, hamstring, and glute muscles then erectors, traps and stomach muscles. Why, do you think powerlifting guru Louie Simmons preaches doing box squats as an auxiliary movement for deadlifts? I know, all you self-proclaimed experts think I am full of BS! Maybe I am. But, if you take a bio-mechanics, or kinesiology class, or just ask an ELITE-World Champion powerlifter than you will realize that the deadlift is not a true back exercise.

Me Visualizing the Exercise I'm Set to Do

Now, back to bent-over bar rows. These can be done either reverse grip, or regular overhand grip. The proper positioning for a BAR ROW is to place your upper torso at a 45% angle, grasp the bar about medium grip and brining the bar up to your navel area, slowly, with no jerky up and down movement. Do two warm-up sets of 12 with very light weight, and then do 3 to 4 sets of 8 reps with a moderately heavy weight.

Everyone does chin-ups. Well, if your not doing them then you should. Chins are great for total lat development. But, if you want to increase mass and thickness then strap on some weight. Chins primarily work the lats. But, they work the rhomboids and activate the shoulders into action too. So, reach up, grab the chin bar with a slightly wider than shoulder overhand grip, and start with a warm-up set of 10-15 using your own body weight. Next, perform three sets in the 10-rep range. If you have never done chin-ups with weights, add 5 pounds per set to start. Just make sure you strap it on before you chin.

Trying to start a lawn mower? God, doesn't that annoy you when someone is pulling on a dumbbell like it's a lawn mower out of gas? There are different positions for dumbbell rows, and that is not one of them. But, the correct position is to keep both feet on the floor and one hand on the bench, or one leg on the bench-one foot on the floor, and one hand on the bench. Also, keep your back arched - just a little. A good test for correct weight is to hold the dumbbell at shoulder level for a count of one on each rep. If you cannot do this, then the weight is too much. Perform 3 moderately heavy sets of 6 reps each.

I rarely see any people par-take in this movement. Why? Maybe because Incline Dumbbell Rows are not readily featured in most bodybuilding magazines as an exercise performed by the pros. So, let's be different. Place an adjustable incline bench at about a 30-degree or a 45-degree angle. Lay stomach first on the bench with your upper chest slightly over the top of the bench, then place your feet on the floor stationed behind you. Draw the dumbbells up close to the bench, like you're doing rows. Don't keep your chest flat on the bench, but rather, as you slowly move the dumbbells up to the midpoint, arch your back to get that squeeze. Start with moderately heavy dumbbells for 2 sets to failure. This movement will not only thicken the upper back like you won't believe, but this also works the trap muscles directly. The pump you will get from doing incline dumbbell rows is incredible. Give them a ride and watch everyone in your gym copy you.

The pull down to the front is a staple to all back routines. The important thing, and I do mean the important thing, is to use a weight that allows you to execute correct form. Correct form constitutes keeping your torso fairly upright, with a slight arch in your lower back (so that it looks as though your chest is up in the air), and keep this position throughout the whole movement. Start with your arms fully stretched and then pull the weight toward the base of your chin. Do not bounce up and down out of the seat. No matter how you grab the bar - overhand or reverse grip - do not use your biceps as the main pulling power. Squeeze your shoulder blades together on every rep. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.

In addition, to all the above exercises finish your back with a hulking set of bar shrugs. You could always use a frightening pair of traps to go along with that wide pair of wings.

Remember that you cannot see your back while training. So, you must develop a mind-muscle connection. Develop a mind-muscle connection by visualizing the exercise, slowly execute the movement, and contract your back muscles. Also, when training back you must not throw the weights, you should move the muscle. So, shrug, pull, and squeeze your back into the Alien world.