A popular way to measure the effectiveness of your bodybuilding training session is by gauging the intensity of your pump. If your biceps feel ready to rip through your sleeves or your calves are pumping with blood by the time you finish that last rep, you know it was a good workout. The problem with the back in particular is that your biceps end up feeling that pump and causing you to quit before your lats can get in on the fun!
This high-rep two-move back finisher will help that. Because you'll be forced to use light weights, you can sneak lots of volume and time under tension into your lats without your arms crashing and burning first. All you need is a rope handle, one side of a cable machine, and the guts to minimally rest once the going gets tough. Since both exercises can be done at the same station, it's sneakily easy to go back and forth.
You'll notice that the reps decrease with each set, which means you should try to lower that pin on the stack and go heavier each time. If you can't, don't worry—you'll still feel the pump even if the weight stays the same. You shouldn't reach failure, but you should struggle by the time you reach the last rep. Rest 30 seconds after each superset.
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Rope Straight-Arm Pull-down
Stand far enough back with the rope in your hands so that the pinned weight doesn't touch the stack at any time. Constant tension is important here. Keep your arms straight as you hinge at the shoulders and pull your arms down and back. When you pull the rope down, bring your hips forward slightly at the same time. This helps you activate the lower portion of the lats, while pulling with your arms puts more focus on the upper lats.
When the ends of the rope reach your body, spread your hands apart so you can pull in a little more and get a better contraction. As you go back up to the starting position, make sure you do it under control and you don't let the lats relax at any point. Do not let the weight stack touch down! Feel the stretch at the top of the movement before pulling in again.
Rope Low Cable Row
If you have an adjustable cable system, adjust the pulley for this exercise to the lowest position possible. On a standard station, simply move the rope from the top pulley to the bottom one. Again, make sure you stand far enough back that the pinned weight doesn't touch the stack when your arms are extended.
From a standing position, hold both ends of the rope as you retract your shoulder blades and pull your arms in to your bellybutton, bending your elbows as you do so. Try to keep your back as neutral and straight as possible. Like you did on the pull-downs, separate the ends of the rope when it reaches your body to get a better contraction. Hold for 3 seconds before letting the rope back down again with control.
Use this superset at the end of your back workout to get a massive pump and give your lats the best possible chance to grow. Pairing heavy back work with a hamstring workout or deadlifts is a great way to get more blood to that area and increase your potential for muscle growth. Just beware of post-workout DOMS—that back-day ache can be a beast! Post-workout nutrition is important, so make sure your supplement game is on point, and don't forget to drink enough water! For more ideas for increasing the size of your back and improving your physique, check out "5 Back Workouts for Mass."