Building Your Back
A common lament among beginner bodybuilders is that they can't "feel" their back while training it. Why? Perhaps it's because we can't see our back during training. We can see a bulging bicep or a heaving chest, but back training requires visualization and concentration to ensure proper form.
When training the back, focus on maintaining a slight arch. Bent-over rows performed with a hunched back cause more lower-back injuries than any other movement. Your next step is to try a variety of exercises.
Don't fall in love with the lat pull-down. While the pull-down is a useful exercise, the chin-up is far superior. The lat pull-down simulates a chinning movement, but the bar comes down to the chest instead of the chest coming up to the bar.
What's the proper way to do a chin-up? Again, concentrate on the back. Get in the habit of keeping a slight arch in the spine. And instead of bringing just your chin to the bar, try to lift your lower chest to the bar.
Lean back and attempt to keep your head as far away from the bar as possible. This will be difficult if you've never attempted it. Don't worry. As long as you at least try, you'll be working your back.
The most common mistake you can make is to place the emphasis on getting your chin above the bar. This causes hunching of the back and the propensity to "swing" your body up.
At that point, your arms would be exerting the most effort—and you're trying to work the back. Maintain a fluid motion, placing special emphasis on the descent. Stretch the lats on the way down. Try to use as little bicep as possible.
Make It Your Whole Workout
When attempting any new movement, it's a good idea to make the entire workout that one exercise. The next time it's back day, do nothing but chins and see how you feel the next day.
What part of the back did it get? Are you overly sore? Not sore enough? By employing just one exercise, you'll get a better grasp on how it works—and how well.
Some people have a hard time chinning their body weight. But if you can accomplish ten chins, I'd recommend substituting this exercise for pull-downs.
Performed correctly, the chin-up builds width and thickness. Give this "all chinning" workout a go on your next back day. You may be surprised at its impact.