Name: Sophie Arvebrink
Occupation: Personal trainer
Back training is incredibly important, and not just for aesthetic reasons. Sure, it's great to have a sexy back, but it's even more important to establish good posture. A lot of people have internally rotated shoulders from too much anterior focus and a lack of back work. By training the muscles between your shoulder blades, like the traps and rhomboids, you pull your shoulders back and create better front-to-back balance.
This back workout will help you look and perform better. It will also help you build width, thickness, and strength. My back training has already given me a lot of width, so I'm really working on thickness. My goal is to build the perfect body. Perfect, in my opinion, is strong, athletic, and proportional. I don't want to get a lot bigger, but I still have a lot to improve. That's the fun part about building a body: You can always get better!
The Right Lat-itude
Before I start my back workout, I do a 10-minute warm-up for my back and shoulders. Since I start my workout with heavy lifts, I need to make sure my body is ready for it. I love heavy lifting, and it's an important thing for me to keep my strength, so I start every back workout with either weighted pull-ups or heavy deadlifts. These lifts offer more than just strength and size. They involve your entire body, and they force you to practice coordination between muscle groups and your nervous system.
After heavy deadlifts or pull-ups come lat pull-downs. My lats are the best part of my back, and that is not a coincidence. When I started training, I spent a lot of time in the lat pull-down machine. I keep my back entirely straight as I pull the bar to my chin. I don't use a lot of weight and I make sure to only pull with my lats to keep my arms and other assistance muscles out of the lift. I want full range of motion, a good squeeze, and a killer burn!
After pull-downs, I move to rows. I've seen a lot of bad technique on seated rows; to avoid the same, I don't go too heavy. I keep my back straight and spine stable at all times. I move my shoulder blades forward, then push them back, and squeeze them together really hard. I usually ask my training partner to put a hand between my shoulder blades while I do the exercise. This makes it easier to focus on the contraction.
Deadlift: 330 pounds
Bench Press: 198 pounds
Weighted Pull-Up: 6 reps with 45 pounds
The trapezius is a big part of the back, and a lot of people forget that. If you really want a massive back, you've got to train your entire trapezius. For the upper part of my traps, I usually do seated shrugs with dumbbells. I focus on the contraction, and I avoid bouncing at the bottom of each rep.
I like to finish my back session with machine work. Sometimes I do one more rowing exercise, and sometimes I do rear-delt machine flyes. The rear delts are small muscles, but they're functionally important and aesthetically attractive. I train my rear delts on both shoulder and back days. I don't think you can get enough of them! Usually I do reverse flyes or a high row, keeping my elbows at shoulder height.
Sophie's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Can't Be Touched" - Body Head Bangerz
- "Pressure" (Alesso Radio Edit) - Nadia Ali
- "Lose yourself" - Eminem
- "Play Hard" - David Guetta ft. Ne-Yo
- "How We Do It" - Lloyd ft. Ludacris