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!

Back Workout
4 sets, 5-10 reps
+ 8 more exercises


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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.

Lat pull-down

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.

V-handle pull-down

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.

About the Author

Lara McGlashan

Lara McGlashan

Lara McGlashan is currently the Fitness Editor for Oxygen Magazine. She also has an extensive sports background and is an ACE certified trainer.

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Back Workout