They say the hooded cobra is the most feared species of snake in India. You can not miss this monster because when it spreads its huge thickly developed back there is no mistaking it, get out of the way.
I am going to describe and illustrate a few back exercises that are used to make that hood expand into a monstrous width. Some train back twice a week, but I've learned that once a week of hard intense training is sufficient to make that hood thick and wide, and maybe that's all you need too for new growth.
I set to work my back training with the same priority that cobra does when it's eyeing its prey. I move through each exercise quickly, with fixed technique utilizing all my might, all my strength, hard and fast.
When one exercise is done, it's on to the next. I usually start with T-bar (supported chest) rows, then Pull-downs to the front, seated rows, D.B. Rows, and shrugs. The hooded structure is so large and complex, for the best results, it's preferable to train that area with several exercises for more complete development.
EXERCISE 1 Lying T-Bar Row
First it's Chest Supported Wide Grip T Bar Rows. Go heavy on these, but not that heavy that you loose form. T-bar rows are good for the upper traps, side lats and rear delts. Slowly increase your weight each set but don't increase the weight so you do not get full range of motion.
Proper technique comes first. I usually start with two 45's, and then add another and another each set with 6 - 45's on my finale set. Do these for 4-5 sets of 6 repetitions.
EXERCISE 2 Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns
Now move right into PULLDOWNS to the FRONT. The pull down to the front is a staple to all back routines. The important thing, and I do mean the important thing, is to use a weight that allows you to execute correct form. Correct form constitutes keeping your torso fairly upright, with a slight arch in your lower back (so that it looks as though your chest is up in the air), and keep this position throughout the whole movement.
No swinging! You heard me you little man. Now, start with your arms fully stretched and then pull the weight toward the base of your chin. Do not bounce up and down out of the seat. No matter what, try and emphasize pulling down with the large lat muscles and do not use your biceps as the main pulling power. Squeeze your shoulder blades together on every rep. Perform 3 sets of 10-12 reps.
EXERCISE 3 One-Arm Dumbbell Rows
Single Arm D.B. Rows: For this back exercise you need a heavy dumbbell. But, if you are D.B. Rowing 100's or heavier and you are lurching each rep like your trying to get that old lawn mower started then you have a weak back and doing them that way will not increase size or strength. It will only make the strong laugh at you.
Some advice, when you can D.B. Row those 60's for 15 good tight reps, then move up to the next dumbbell. Now, lean forward so that your back is parallel with the floor resting one arm and a knee on a bench. Grasp the dumbbell with the other arm. Starting with your arm fully extended, raise the dumbbell right up to your side tensing the lats then return to the starting position. Do 6 to 8 reps for 3 sets with each arm.
EXERCISE 4 Dumbbell Shrugs
Finish with 3 sets of dumbbell, straight bar or machine trap shrugs with a full range of motion - up and down. Shrug in a full range of motion, do not load the bar so much that you are moving a 1/4 inch and think you're bad ass. I see individuals shrug more then they can deadlift or squat. Stop with the ego's gentlemen. You do not impress anyone other then giving us a real good laugh.
Generally you can use lifting straps for most of these exercises. Lifting straps are invaluable for back exercises. Without straps, most lifters can't hold on to the weight for the whole set so start off using a moderate weight. When using straps you can 'feel' the movement working your target muscles. Straps will also permit better form, which is critical for best results.
So, are you ready for the hooded monster? There is no getting around it. Nowhere to run. When the hood is spread, fear takes over and all other mortals will shake in your stare. It's great to have a big chest and big arms, but your back is the staple for almost every muscle group.
Build a strong back and you will build a bigger and stronger body no matter what your goals. So, don't forget to make sure the hooded monster is worked for one more rep!