When you're on stage and you perform a back double bicep or a lat spread, the best feeling in the world is to hear a crowd's collective gasp ... Then a cheer!
How does one build an eye popping back? By sticking to the basics and training like an animal. So without further delay, let me show you guys how to train to grow some wings.
As you should all know, all back movements mimic either a row or a pull-down. However, in order to build the perfect back, most if not all of your movements should involve a variation of the row.
But let's warm-up first by starting with a pull-down ... Your choice, wide or close grip (it really doesn't matter, as long as you pull some heavy f*ckin weight).
When it comes to the pull-down, there are always two things to keep in mind when performing this movement:
- full extension at the top of the exercise, and
- a good squeeze of your back at the contraction.
Remember to pull the bar down to the lower part of your chest (not down to the top of your stomach you brainiacs).
Start with a warm-up of 15-20 reps, forcing some blood into the area that you are working. Since this is for your upper back mostly, it is a good starting point for most back workouts, warming up the lats and the traps for more pulling movements. After your warm-up set, get into some heavy weight.
Move the pin down a few notches and continue. A hard set of 10-12 reps is what we are trying to accomplish here for the next 3 sets. The way you grow is to move weight. You do not necessarily sacrifice form for weight, but it is OK to cheat a bit; cheating to grow is a principle that is often overlooked, but it f*ckin works.
Now, after 4 good sets of pull-downs, your lats are tight and your inner back is warmed up. Let's leave the rest of the pull-down machines for the ladies and move into some primary movements.
Bent Over Barbell Rows
Every back workout should include a barbell row. Bent over barbell rows are a mandatory movement for all back workouts, pre-contest or off-season. They give you the thickness in the lower back area, width in the lats, and fill in that hole we all have had in between the trap area.
Nobody says that you have to row 405 to get a great back - but if you can, who's stopping you? Pyramid the weight up going from 12 down to 8 reps, performing about 4 sets. Yeah, it will get tiring and heavy but remember, if you are not doing this, someone else is.
Bent Over Barbell Rows.
Some pointers while performing the exercise include bending from the waist at a 45-degree angle, bending the knees slightly and getting a full extension. Pull to the middle of your stomach and feel the squeeze. Do not make the common mistake that most "bodybuilders" make, which is bending forward to a full 90-degree angle.
This is really f*ckin stupid because it causes too much strain on the lower back and can lead to serious injury. So, the next time you see that guy in your gym...
You know who I'm talking about, the guy that thinks he knows everything there is to know about lifting weights ... When he says, "I used to look like you" ... Don't listen and don't ask for any advice. Tell him Schak taught me how to do this on Animalpak.com - that should shut him up.
Bent Over One-Arm Rows & Hammer Strength Pulldowns
Now we have gone through two exercises and your back should feel big ... Notice I didn't say look big. Now my wide-eyed listeners, we will do a superset of a bent over one arm dumbbell row and a hammer strength pull-down. For the rookies among you that are not sure what a superset is, it is performing two exercises back to back with little rest in between.
Bent Over One-Arm Rows.
(Shown here with long bar instead of dumbbell.)
This will not be pretty and it will hurt, but remember you wanted to be a bodybuilder. You're the one who signed up for this. Starting with the dumbbell row, grab the heaviest weight that you can handle for 10 reps. This is a great movement to thicken the middle of the back.
Put the opposite leg on the flat bench of the arm that is performing the movement. Extend the arm down, stretching the lat and pull up to the side of your stomach squeezing your back. After performing 10 grueling reps, switch sides and do this sh*t again.
After you are done, head right on to the hammer strength pull-down. This is a great finishing movement for your back which adds some shape to all the beef back there. Again, pick a weight to perform a hard 10-12 reps. Three sets of this superset should really put you over the edge.
(Regular pulldowns shown here, not Hammer Iso-type.)
Now for the kicker ... Deadlifts. That's right, you heard me correctly. One of the reasons that I prefer to do deadlifts after a back workout is because your muscles are already fatigued and you do not need a ton of weight to feel this movement.
Secondly, performing a deadlift in the beginning of a back workout will make all your other rowing and pulling movements weaker.
Do about 3 sets of 10 reps; no more is necessary. You do not have to go extremely heavy, just enough to say that you "worked out."
Remember the obvious - back straight, bend from the knees and not the lower back, lean back and throw your shoulders back, squeezing your traps together. What a great f*ckin movement.
This adds that density and thickness that most bodybuilders tend to overlook. Bodybuilding is much more than being ripped; muscle fullness, density and thickness, play an extremely large role.
If you don't have any of these, don't even f*cking bother stepping on stage.
So let's recap our back regimen:
|Summary Of Exercises.|
That's 17 in-your-face sets on the road to building a great back. If you want it, go get it. If you don't, bet your *ss there's someone out there who will. Use it as a motivator to better yourself in the gym. You want to be better than the guy next to you on stage, so stop f*ckin around, stick to the basics and cut the cutesy sh*t out.
If you do that, then you can build a better back. Next time we will talk about training those wheels in "Bigger Wheels." In the mean time train, eat and grow. Later.