Its time to build your back. Not many people focus on back the way that they should because, well, you can’t really see it when you look in the mirror. I feel that this is one of the reasons the posterior chain(lats, traps, rear delts, glutes, hamstrings and calves) falls behind in most cases while your chest, biceps, front and side delts and quads take up all your time in the gym. This will lead to huge imbalances and possible injuries.
Its time to focus on building some wings for lats. Pull ups give you wings, not RedBull.
Once you have warmed up adequately (I suggest a couple slow, light warm up sets of the muscle group you’re working after 5-10 minutes medium intensity cardio to get your blood flowing), it is time to start. Remember, I want you to focus on a slow tempo for each exercise and really squeeze at the top of each movement to ensure you are getting maximum stimulation. I’m a firm believer in a big stretch and squeeze, especially for back movements.
First up we have Pull-Ups. Now this is easily one of the most neglected exercises in the gym with more benefits than most even know. Apart from Deadlifts, I see them as one of the best rated exercises to fully develop back strength as well as size. I want you to focus on keeping your shoulder blades locked back and down while looking at a point on the ceiling above the bar to keep your chin up. Squeeze your lats and pull till your chin is over the bar, pause for a second and slowly return to a full stretch at the bottom of the movement. Completely straighten your arms to get a deep stretch in your lats before going into the next rep. Do 10 reps for me for 4 sets. If you can’t reach 10, do as many as you can do.
Next, we have the big daddy, Deadlifts.
No, deadlifts are not going to give you a big, thick waist, ask Chris Bumstead. What they are going to do for you is build heavy duty muscle. When performing these, I want you to keep the bar as close to your shins as possible, drop your bum so that you can keep your chest up, pull your shoulder blades back as if you were trying to tuck them into your back pockets and lock your lats. From there, keep it tight and push the ground away from you. At the top, make sure you have kept your shoulders back and kept your back tight. Now slowly return to the starting position. Work your weight up in warm up sets of 6 to your working weight and perform 4 sets of 6 for me.
Up next are bent over rows. Instead of standing with your back at 45 degrees to the floor pulling the weight a mere 10cm, I want your back parallel to the floor, overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width, elbows tucked as close to your sides and pulling the weight into your lower belly so that you’re pulling with your elbows rather than your hands. This will ensure your lats are activated and that the stress is not just being put onto your biceps. Pause the weight on the floor at the end of every rep for a dead stop set. Perform 4 sets of 12.
Next, we’re going to do a super set starting with cable seated rows moving onto standing straight arm pulldowns. While seated, use a parallel grip (palms facing each other) and pull each rep into your belly button, again, leading with your elbows to keep your elbow joint at a 90 degree position to get maximum stimulation of your lats. Once you have done 12 reps, move onto the pulldowns. I want you to perform these slightly bent over with a slight bend in your elbows. Using a rope, pull your hands down to where your pockets would be. Ensure that your shoulder blades are retracted and locked back. Do 12 reps here.
Finally, we are going to finish off with hyperextensions. On the roman chair, hook your feet in, hinge at the hips and go as low as you can. Squeeze your hamstrings and glutes on the way up which will ensure your lower back squeezes too. Perform 20 reps here.
The whole workout is as follows:
Pull-ups: 4 sets of 10(or as many as possible)
Deadlifts: 4 sets of 6(after working up to a heavy 6 reps in warm up sets)
Bent over rows: 4 sets of 12
A1 Seated cable row: 4 sets of 12
A2 Straight arm pulldown: 4 sets of 12
Hyperextensions: 3 sets of 20
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