Who says leg day is the only training day that'll make you puke? That's easy. It's the same guys who don't train their backs very hard. I think they have a name... what was it? Oh yeah, "pussies". If you don't have a strong back, then you ain't shit. Consider this: Almost all your major muscle groups cannot be trained with heavy compound movements without a strong back. Imagine a hard, gut-spilling leg day with the added stress of having a weak back. Slipping a few disks comes to mind, or maybe a herniated disk. These are two injuries that will turn you into a spineless jellyfish. So the bottom line is don't skip out on some serious back training.
"I know that building a killer back that not only looks impressive, but is strong enough to pull a Mac truck up a mountain, is what drives me through the pain and anguish."
Walking into the gym on back day is just as intimidating to me as a leg day. I experience the same symptoms: nervousness, anticipation of the pain, and the fear of not topping the last workout's weight. Oh yeah, I can't forget about the possibility of paying a visit to the gym's nasty toilet or nearest trash can to chuck my lunch into. There's nothing like the taste of partially digested food coming back up for a second time around. But I accept all this because it is a part of who I am. A warrior. An animal. I know that building a killer back that not only looks impressive, but is strong enough to pull a Mac truck up a mountain, is what drives me through the pain and anguish.
Be honest. Do you want that back to be big as the wings on a 747, and more powerful than an earthquake? Oh yeah. So the suffering is worth it. Yeah, the pain of tearing down muscle tissue actually becomes addictive. Pushing your body to its limits is what hardcore is all about. Seeing stars, nose bleeds, throwing up, and getting light-headed are all signs that you've pushed your body to the limit. To those of you who've experienced this, I salute you. To those of you who do not subscribe to this type of balls out training, may you be skinny and weak forever! I'll come looking for you when I need to floss my teeth with your skinny little ass.
For years I have seen all different types of people walk into the gym. The majority wants to work the "glamour" muscles. Can you guess which muscles are the glamour muscles? That's right, chest and arms. Sometimes, shoulders are included too, but most often, it's the chest and arms. You know these types. These wannabes always wear pants in the gym until it's so damn hot that they have no choice but to wear shorts. Have you ever wondered why their legs always look like skinny-assed chicken legs? Or why it looks like they are always rolling their shoulders forward? It's because they guys don't train all of their body parts. Some even look retarded because this type of training always screws up their posture. It's the equivalent of building half a house or half of a car.
Neck pain, back pain, and the like are all going to happen when you have a 500 lb. bench press, but can only do bent rows with 225 lb. for a rep a two. Pathetic. Believe it or not, your chest and almost all of the other major muscle groups will get stronger and bigger by training your back. Your back is the staple for almost every muscle group. It's great to have a big chest and big arms, but what happens when you have to pick something up? Are you going to lie down underneath it and press it up? Maybe, if you are a complete jackass. Build a strong back and you will build a bigger and stronger body no matter what your goals.
Spinal erectors that look like two full grown pythons coiling up your back on either side of your spine won't let you down. Lifting all the weight in the gym will feel obtainable if you bust your ass training back. No excuses, bro. No getting out of it. Nowhere to run. You have to train hard. You got to train like you have just been let out of a cage that you've been locked up in all your life. Be aggressive, smart, and consistent. Being smart means knowing when to cheat the last few reps to get a little more out of your workout, or when to back off the weights and switch to a higher rep range to stimulate more muscle growth.
I train heavy about 85% of the time. With the other 15%, I do things like drop sets, super sets, and giant sets to create more muscle stimulation. I listen to my body. When I know that I have been going heavy for a number of weeks and my joints and body begin to feel the stress of that type of intense training, I back off the heavy weights and switch to a higher volume training style. This means I do less weight, and keeping my reps between 10 and 16 per set. I might also add an extra set or two to create a different type of stress to the muscle.
To tell you the truth, I hate super sets and giant sets. Those damn things will send your last meal up your throat just as quick, if not quicker, than a heavy and hard back or leg day. Talk about getting sick. I remember doing giant sets with standing dumbbell rows with two of my buddies one time, and we all tossed our lunches. One by one, after each set, one of us would go running for the locker room, looking for that empty, unoccupied toilet to pay homage to. Give me the heavy weights any day of the week, but giant sets will make a man out of you quick.
To be successful at anything, you have to have heart. You also have to be willing to go against the grain, against the norm and rise above mediocrity. Look around you. You know what I am talking about. The three Ps come to mind: patience, persistence, and perseverance are the ingredients of a true champion. A champion is not only the person who wins the trophy for first place, but also the one who reaches his personal goals. If you want something in life, you got to go after it like your life depended on it. Attack and conquer. A big back is what we want right now. To build the base for a huge back you need to start with the basics; deadlifts, pull-ups, and rows. Deads, pull-ups and rows are the three basic movements that will pack on slabs of beef to your back.
Deadlifts work the entire body including your back, traps, biceps, hamstrings, quads, calves, glutes, forearms, and everything in between. Most gyms nowadays do not allow heavy deadlifts. Maybe it's because the banging caused by heavy deadlifting is loud enough to raise the dead. Or maybe it's because most people want to sit on a comfy machine and look pretty. Listen, there is no looking pretty while doing heavy deads. Your face fills with blood and looks like it may explode if you took a sharp object to it. I always use an opposing grip and no straps, just in case I need to bail during a heavy set. I put deadlifts at the beginning of back 50% of the time, and at the end of the workout the other 50%.
Now to get those latissimus, or lats, to expand like wings, there is nothing like pull-ups to get the job done. Do both wide-grip to the front and wide grip to the back. By doing wide grip pull-ups you can build your outer lats, or wings, to give width to your back. Also, another good type of pull-up is the reverse, or underhand grip pull-up. This will not only work the outer lat, but also the lower lat where it ties into the mid-back.
Next is the grand daddy of all back exercises, the bent-over row. There are 100 different variations on this exercise including cable rows and hammer rows, not to mention the number of machine rows that exist. All things considered, the meat and potatoes of a thick back is the basic barbell bent-over rows. Heavy rows build a powerful and thick back. Both regular grip and reverse grip work great. Form is everything so keep that back flat and perpendicular with the floor to insure that you are hitting the back, and not upper shoulders.
Before I get to the routine, let me mention a few other movements that are worth mentioning: close-grip pull downs, dumbbell pullovers, and one-arm cable pulldowns. These are all great exercises in my opinion. Now here are a few examples of how my back training workouts are designed. There's not much to them, at least on paper. They are short and sweet. But try going at it, balls out, and they'll drain you fast.