MusclePharm-sponsored athlete and spokesmodel finalist Tyler Holt doesn't hold back when it comes to building muscle.

"We all have rough days—days we don't want to work out or eat right," he explains. "But if you want the results you're looking for, it needs to be done regardless of how much you don't want to do it. Get it done!"

This back workout is designed to work your back from top to bottom. You'll use max reps, supersets, and even resistance bands to get the job done.

"I think resistance bands are highly underutilized—but I love them," says Holt. "Bands are an awesome way to create new tension in the muscle."

Switching up the resistance creates a dynamic tension guaranteed to create a burn in those lats like you've never felt before. This workout should take you 45-60 minutes. Let's get started!

Tyler Holt's Back Workout
4 sets, failure
+ 4 more exercises


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Technique Keys



"This first exercise is, in my opinion, the king of back exercises," says Holt. Pull-ups are one of the hardest exercises you can do for your back; after all, you're pulling your entire body weight. Hence its position here—you want to do these while your lats are still fresh.

In the starting position, where you're hanging from the bar, focus on keeping your shoulders down and back. Maintain that focus as you lift your chest toward the bar. Get a good squeeze in your back at the top of each rep. If you need a little assistance, use a resistance band or use an assist machine. At the bottom, take a page out of Holt's book and stretch those lats out, then contract them before starting the next pull. Doing so enables a full range of motion.

Do 4 sets of as many reps as you can complete. You're going to failure, so rest about one minute between sets.

Band-Resisted Dumbbell Row

Band-Resisted Dumbbell Row

Next up is the band resisted dumbbell row. Although you're doing the same number of reps for each of 4 sets, you're trying to increase the weight each time.

"I want you to work," says Holt. "Keep it intense. Push yourself."

The reason you're generating more force on this exercise is to emphasize the full contraction at the top of the rep. As you pull against the band, it becomes tighter, generating more force pulling against you. Therefore, the load is heaviest at full contraction, when you're at the top of the rep.

"It's going to be hard," warns Holt. "There's going to be more resistance pulling the weight down and away from you. Regardless, keep working through it."

Pendlay Row

Pendlay Row

As with the preceding exercise, you're increasing the weight with each set here. Now, however, you're dropping the reps accordingly, starting with 12 reps, then 10, then 8.

The Pendlay row is similar to the bent-over row, with one exception: You start in a deadlift position with the barbell touching the floor. With a regular bent-over row, you can use a lot of momentum from rep to rep. But because the Pendlay row forces you to come to a dead stop on the floor with each rep, you must use your full back to pull up that weight each time.

Set up just like a deadlift: straight lower back, hips down, chest and head up. Explode up from that dead-stop position and perform a bent-over row. As Holt explains, this is a total-back exercise. You'll feel your upper back working on the row portion, but since you drop down to the floor on each rep in a deadlift position, your lower back takes some of the brunt, too.

Wide-Grip Lat Pull-Down and Straight-Arm Cable Pull-Down

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown/Straight-Arm Cable Pulldown

Finish off this workout with a heavy/light superset. The objective is to burn out your back completely. On this last exercise pairing, you're really focused on building out your lats. Start with a wide-grip lat pull-down to really build your back width, then segue immediately to a straight-arm cable pull-down.

Go heavy on the lat pull-downs to really light up your muscle fibers, but switch to higher reps on the cable pull-downs to pump your lats full of blood.

By the end of this workout, you should feel your back top to bottom, left to right. Your back should feel wide, and your muscles will definitely be feeling it for a few days.

This is a great workout to throw into your split once a week. If back is the focal point of your training currently, throw it in twice a week. After 6-8 weeks, your back should be noticeably wider and more defined.

About the Author

Heather Eastman, NSCA-CPT

Heather Eastman, NSCA-CPT

Heather’s mission is to use her passion for fitness and her knowledge of training and nutrition to educate and motivate others to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle.

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