Developing The Back!

The back is an amazing muscle. It commands so much attention and equips its owner with a sort of aura of power. Many lifters will disagree, but who cares? How often have any of you seen a man with a well developed back? My point exactly.
The back is an amazing muscle. It commands so much attention and equips its owner with a sort of aura of power. Many lifters will disagree, but who cares? How often have any of you seen a man with a well developed back? My point exactly.

Concerning every major muscle group we train, the back has to be the least developed of the majority of bodybuilders, if it has been trained at all for that matter. The back is the basis for a great body, not the obliques. I've seen numerous people with nice (not great) abs, but no back development at all. First off, if you abs are well developed, but your back is not, your abs will begin to pull your stomach and ribcage forward creating the strange semi-roid gut look that we see so often in the gym. That is all we bodybuilders need, great abs but a body that still looks fat.

The back supports the entire body structure. The lower back keeps the hips and pelvis aligned, and will prevent future problems if kept in shape. Chronic back pain is rampant in America, and weak backs are the reason. Now that I've given you many reasons to begin training your back, let me give you some guidelines to keep you safe from injury.

Intensity and Focus

Back Training must be very intense, yet also controlled. The muscles of the back are very strong and need to be pushed hard to commence growth. Intensity without form though, and you could risk back injury leaving you hurt and out of commission for 3-5 weeks. Keep your focus strong, and use correct form with moderate weight. If you are tired or over-exhausted on back day, wait another 2-3 days before training it.

Use Long Negatives:

Utilizing a 3-4 second negative on all repetitions. The negative is the most important part of the repetition, especially when it comes to the back. This will work the back muscles to the next degree, fatiguing them to the limit you need to.

Stretching:

Stretch slowly and for a decent amount of time before and after all workouts. Stretching slowly will stretch the normally tight back muscles and keep you from possible neck or back/shoulder injury. You will be very stiff and tight after your workout, and stretching is crucial before and after all back workouts especially.

Working the Entire Back:

I recently learned this lesson the hard way. After working extremely hard on my back (my favorite muscle group), not realizing the true neglect I was imposing on my lower back from lack of training it, I strained it. I was playing basketball, and had even stretched 3-4 times that day, but because my lower back wasn't kept up to par with my upper back and abs, the much weaker muscles of my lower back strained when simply jumping and created extreme pain for that entire evening. The pain of a lower back strain is tremendous. It even hurts to breathe when you injure your lower back. Fortunately, the oil that was applied worked, and the next day the pain was gone, but if there is one lesson to be learned, if you don't train the entire back an injury like this could destroy months of hard work. If you make any mistakes when training your back, don't let this be the one. Train the entire back.

Here is a routine that I have been using for a few months that has yielded great results, and I've now also begun to add supermans' for my lower back, and dead-lifts to bring up my lower back.

Always perform 1 warmup set
Always go to failure!

  • Wide Grip Pull-ups 1X6 1X6 1X6
  • Seated Machine Rows 1X10 1X6-12 1X6-12
  • Dead-lifts 1X10 1X6-12 1X6-12
  • Superman 1Xfailure 1Xfailure 1Xfailure
  • (lying on stomach, exactly what it sounds like)

After this workout your back will be screaming for recuperation, you know what to do!