Before I begin, there are several things I should convey to you. I like to separate the larger body parts into groups. I feel there is too much muscle to just be working the "chest" or, in this case, the "back." As explained in my previous chest articles, the chest was divided up into upper, middle, and lower. OK, no brainer. For the back, I wish to divide it up into two parts: lats and rear delts (or middle back). Again, I feel there is too much muscle to just categorize a "back" workout. So, for the first week, you can train lats and the following week, after ample rest, you can train the rear delts.
Before beginning with the workout, there are several important techniques or tricks I like to incorporate into my back workout.
1. BACKS NEED TO BE SQUEEZED!
Merely lifting weights for the back incorporates many muscles, most notably your arms. To truly feel the burn, use a lighter weight and squeeze the muscle at the top of contraction.
2. YOU'RE LIFTING YOUR BACK, NOT YOUR ARMS!
To reiterate, the back should be doing the most work. A lot of people have tried to come up with solutions to this, but put simply…just use a lighter weight and feel the muscle being worked.
3. VISUALIZE THE MOVEMENT AND THE MUSCLE.
Visualization is important when training the back muscles. Concentration on proper form and thinking about start to finish is a valuable tool when training.
4. AFTER COMPLETING A SET, FLEX YOUR MUSCLES.
What better time to get more work in than during rest time…I'm just kidding. While resting, flex the back muscles you have just worked. This technique can be used for other muscles as well. If you're working your lats, flare them out. If you're working your middle back, try to touch your elbows behind your back.
5. HOLD AT YOUR PEAK CONTRACTION.
I like to do this simply because it ups the intensity. I've seen a lot of people swinging while doing lat pull downs or other back exercises. Not only does it look ridiculous, but also it's basically not worth it in terms of muscle development and back pain. Use a lighter weight and hold at your peak contraction.
THE "2 X BACK" WORKOUT
PULL-UPS: 10-12 REPS, 8 REPS, 6 REPS, 4-6 REPS
Pull-ups are a great exercise to begin with on lat day. Handgrip does not really matter. Your hands should be shoulder width apart. Make sure you come up and try to touch the bottom of your chest to the chin up bar. If you are unable to perform this, bring your neck over the bar as high as possible. The main point is to come up enough so that the negative motion (downward motion) has enough room to operate. The downward motion is the most important. Come down extremely slow. By doing so, your lats can be felt working.
LAT PULL DOWNS: 15 REPS, 8-10 REPS, 4-6 REPS
This exercise never becomes old. You can change your hand grip width in a hundred different ways. You can bring your hands really close together or spread them out. You can also bring the bar behind your neck or in front. If you chose to do behind the neck pull downs, keep your back straight and do not switch things up (going from behind the neck to in front, behind the neck and in front again). If you chose to do pull downs in front of your neck, bring the bar to the top of your chest. If you are unable to do so, you're lifting too heavy. As with all pull down movements, try to bring your elbows into your lats.
PULLOVERS: 15 REPS, 10 REPS 4-8 REPS
Pullovers can either be done with a dumbbell or an EZ Bar or even a machine. The entire movement should be done with the arms while concentrating on feeling the lat muscle work. Although this exercise is usually for the intercoastals, I feel the lats receive a great benefit from it.
MIDDLE BACK DAY
SEATED CABLE ROWS: 15 REPS, 10 REPS, 8 REPS, 4-6 REPS
I love this exercise because you can feel it. With the weight you are using, you should really attempt to squeeze your middle back. Do these sets slow to feel the back working. Make sure you are not using your arms.
Click here to see a video on Seated Rows
BENT OVER DUMBBELL ROWS: 10 REPS, 8 REPS, 4-6 REPS
Although many feel this exercise is a lat exercise, I feel that you can squeeze this movement so much that it should be considered a middle back exercise. Make sure you bring the dumbbell to your pec and back down in a slow controlled motion.
Click here to see a video on Bent Rows
V-BAR PULL DOWNS: 15 REPS, 10 REPS, 4-8 REPS
This exercise is just like a lat pull down except that you are purposely tilted at a 45-degree angle on the bench. Grasp the V-Bar in your hands and lean back at a 45-degree angle and pull the bar to the middle of your chest. Feel the squeeze.
If you want to take away one thing from this article, then take away this…SQUEEZE!!