I work 50 hours per week as a police chief. It's a stressful job, sure, but I don't dread going to the gym after a long day. In fact, I crave it. The gym is my outlet; it's my personal form of iron therapy. Weight training helps me deal with the mental and physical challenges of my job, reduces stress, and keeps me in good physical condition.
I don't necessarily consider myself a bodybuilder—I'm just a guy who loves to work out—but I typically train for three hours a day, Monday-Friday. Sometimes, I train on Saturday, too—after all, what's better than working out on Saturday? For me, it's not torture. Hell, I love training so much, I would be in the gym even longer if I could!
I don't really have any problematic body parts, but I am 6-foot-4 and was "gifted" with the lanky frame of a basketball player, so I like to lift heavy and with high volume most of the time to set up the best possible situation for growth. You can't usually achieve a lot of volume with heavy weight, but I like to use a special technique called "11/22s" that lets me net both. Get the details below and give it a try in this back workout!
Back in Business
Although my back has always been one of my strengths, I still train it heavy—just like all of my other body parts. This workout is a really good example of what one of my normal workouts looks like. Yeah, it's a lot of work, but you know what? If you want big results, you have to do big work!
I like to have complete control over every rep. I am not one to rush through a movement. Every exercise I do is very controlled and evenly paced. This helps me build that mind-muscle connection and concentrate on what I'm doing. Attack this workout with the same focus and I guarantee you'll grow!
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Back Tips in the Bank
Two years ago I couldn't even do one pull-up. I decided one day that I just couldn't live with being able to lift so much iron without being able to knock out a solid set of pull-ups, so I watched a lot of YouTube videos on technique and just practiced, practiced, practiced.
Now I start my back workouts with about 4 sets of pull-ups because they warm up the entire back and get me ready for heavy work.
Seated cable row
My first weighted exercise is a seated cable row. I change the handles up every week—rotating between a V-handle and wide-grip handle—to ensure balanced growth and cover my entire back.
I use a technique I call "11/22." Within each set, I do 11 heavy reps, then immediately drop the weight by half and do 22 more reps. That way, I get both weight and volume in one set, which gives me a pump and causes a significant amount of muscular damage.
I use the "11/22" technique here too for all 5 sets. Sometimes, I do the 11 reps in front of my head and the 22 reps behind my head. You don't want to do heavy, behind-the-neck pull-downs—it puts a lot of pressure on your rotator cuffs, so I save those for the lighter 22s.
Single-arm dumbbell row
This unilateral exercise helps me to focus on each lat individually. I switch to straight sets here to change things up. I do my first set for 15 reps as a primer, using a lighter weight. Then I do 4 straight sets of 12 heavy reps with each arm.
A V-handle on the pull-down machine moves the emphasis of the exercise inward toward the spine. I follow the same rep pattern I used on the last exercise—15 lighter reps to warm up, followed by 4 sets of 12 muscle-building reps.
Leverage iso row
I load up the iso-row machine for another round of 11/22s. I like to do one arm at a time for the 11 reps, and then do both arms together for the 22s. There are many great back machines in my gym, so I like to rotate through them to hit my back from all different angles week to week.
Single-arm lat pull-down and straight-arm press-down
I'm usually pretty fried by this point in my workout, so this last superset always feels really tough. I like to end my workouts this way to achieve complete failure and burnout. I do 15 reps with each arm on pull-downs, then immediately do 20 reps on the press-down, and then I rest, recover, and repeat.
The Man With the Plan
Though this particular workout uses a lot of machines, I do like to use barbells from time to time. One day, I might get a wild hair up my ass and do a whole workout of heavy barbell rows. But other than the 11/22s and the occasional superset, I don't use a lot of advanced techniques. I've made great strides utilizing bread-and-butter bodybuilding.
Try this workout next time you're in the gym and let me know how it goes in the comments below! You might hate the 11/22s when you have to fight through them, but I think you're going to love the results.