We can't just give you Brian DeCosta's push workout and leave the back and bis lagging! As forward-facing and forward-moving human beings, we tend to favor our training toward what we can see in the mirror—chest, front delts, abs, or quads. Still, there's nothing more disappointing to the judges—or the rest of us—than watching someone turning around to reveal a back as soft as bread rolls compared to their front half.
If that's you, or you just need a new challenge for your pull workout, DeCosta's back routine has your back. Get ready to attack the lats with supersets, high reps, and all the pulling exercises. No better way to grow those wings big and strong than with a high-volume workload that covers all the angles.
A rack pull is essentially the top half of your deadlift. In this workout, DeCosta sets the pins so that the barbell begins just above his knees. It's a short range of motion, but proper form will elicit some major back thickness. Keep your spine neutral at all times, your shoulders pulled back, drive through your heels, and stand all the way up with every rep. Do it right and you'll get some glute action out of it, too!
Wide-Grip Lat Pull-down
Setting up your shoulder blades correctly—pulled together and down—will help you activate and pull with your lats rather than letting your arms take over. DeCosta has you doing 8 total sets of these, 4 with a heavy weight and 4 with a light weight. Even so, your light sets should not be so much easier that you don't feel the burn!
Caple Rope Pull-down
This is the same idea as a straight-bar lat pull-down, just a switch up in attachments. The rope allows you a little wiggle room to situate your hands where they are comfortable and take the strain off your wrists. DeCosta stands with a forward lean and a slight bend in the elbows throughout the movement, letting his arms come out in front of his head to stretch the lats fully before pulling down all the way to his thighs.
Supinated Dumbbell Row
Your starting position and overall form here will be the same as they are with any bent-over row. Hinging at the hips and keeping your back neutral, row the dumbbells simultaneously up toward your chest, pulling with your lats and squeezing your mid-back muscles. The difference here is the angle of the dumbbells—angle the top of the dumbbells out about 45-degrees.
Seated Dumbbell Rear-Delt Fly
The benefit of performing these seated is that it eliminates any potential swinging or momentum from your lower body to help move the weight. Sit bent over with your chest to your thighs and dumbbells hanging at your sides and underneath your legs. Engage your upper back and fly your arms straight out to the sides. Think about initiating the movement with your elbows rather than your wrists or hands.
Single-Arm Chest-Supported Row
Time to isolate those lats. Make sure you load an appropriate weight that you can row with both arms. As you pull back, think about drawing from your elbow and focus on squeezing the lat. Then, come all the way forward to bring the muscle through its full range of motion. Keep your upper body square as you row each rep.
A classic bodybuilding favorite. The tough part here can be to keep your front delts from getting involved, so be sure you're actively pulling your shoulders back as you do the exercise. DeCosta alternates his reps; if you choose to do the exercise that way, make sure you completely finish the rep on one side before starting the other. This can help avoid momentum doing half the work for you.
We often see pull-ups being cheated with half reps. Go for it—if you want half the gains. You should be coming all the way down to a straight-arm hanging position before you pull yourself back up. If you need to, use a band to assist you in completing more reps, but try to do as many as you can with body weight first.
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