One of my favorite body parts to work out is back. The back is not only important for core support, it is also the tie in points for delts and traps. A thick back is impressive so why not train it hard?!
How many exercises, sets and reps?
One of the things most people do not do when training back is hit a variety of exercises. I think the back is the most complicated muscle group in the body. From the upper half to the lower half and everything in between, in order to get a good back work out and have a nice development you have to hit it from all angles.
I like doing many exercises on back day. I usually do anywhere from 8-10 different ones. Each exercise consists of 2 to 3 sets but mostly 3. Rep range is between 6-12 reps.
Make it up as you go along…
As in all body parts that I work out, I love ‘inventing’ new exercises. Once you know how the muscle works, it is quite easy to do. Many of the machines that I use in any gym I go to can have multiple functions even if it isn’t advertised as so.
For example in this video, I am doing very wide grip pull-ups on a cable cross over machine where they have pull up bars on either side. Rather than doing the pull ups on one side or the other, I use the handle of one pull up and the handle of the other pull up.
The result is a pull up that stretches the lat more than usual, allows you to actually do a sternum pull up, and allows you to go a little higher than normal. Try this between sets of another exercise or rip out three quick sets of these.
How are back exercises performed?
I believe in extension as much as possible, stretch the back muscles and make every fiber in it work.
I also believe in doing both wide grip and narrow grip exercises to build width and thickness.
Since I had back surgery over 20 years ago, I make sure any rows that I perform is done with the chest supported so as to not stress the back or put it in a disadvantaged state. The pic below is the way NOT TO DO ANY back exercise yet so many people do. The laws of physics will eventually catch up to you, I don’t care how strong you are…
The pic below is the recommended way, the back needs to be supported some way, some how…
Once you are warmed up, you can start with a decent weight as you go from exercise to exercise. In other words, since I only do 2 to 3 sets, once I warm up and complete my first back exercise, the remaining exercises I start with a pretty good weight already.
Time can be a twist to your routine…
Another fave to add to my routine is rest or lack thereof. Rarely do I rest more than 60-75 seconds between sets. With as many exercises as I do, I still want to keep my entire resistance workout to between 60-75 minutes. It may be mental, but I feel that resting very little between sets gets my back looking more shredded.
Two of the biggest mistakes I see people make when doing back is that they pull with their arms too much and they jerk on the weight. I tell everyone to think of their arms as nothing more than ropes holding on to the bar and you are pulling with your back by concentrating on contracting your shoulder blades together. Pretend like you are trying to pinch a pencil stuck between your shoulder blades. Feel the squeeze.
Every rep in every exercise is done in a slow and controlled fashion. I don’t like doing herky jerky movements when working out back, you get nothing out of it except maybe lifting more weight which didn’t do a darn thing to working out the back.
In all back exercises, you start using more of your arms as you get to the full rep so I never go full rep in any back exercises. Once I start feeling the arms kicking in more than they should, that is my rep.
I definitely do believe though, in letting your back muscles stretch as much as possible when putting the weight back to the starting position. That creates a longer range of motion and just kicks in more muscle fibers when you start the contraction.
A strong back always leads to a….Fit Forlife