For many lifters, back training is a mystery. It is not as satisfying as a hard chest or shoulder workout and often requires a lot more work to build an impressive back. That's why backstage gyms are usually full of lifters who half-heartedly go through the movements: pull ups, rows, over-stretches, repetition – week after week, with little progress.
If you are guilty of blaming "bad genetics" for your lack of back. Then you owe it to yourself to try out these simple techniques to upgrade your back training. Hit them hard and let these lats and rhomboids do a little more work!
: Mechanical pull-up set
A pull-up station with multiple handles for pronation, neutral position and release is possible for this protocol. Supinated pull-ups are a must. You will be using a drop set, but unlike a traditional drop set, where the weights go down after hitting the wall, this is an "anatomical" or mechanical drop set. This means that the anatomy and favorable leverage of your body are used to perform more repetitions.
Begin re-attaching as many pronations (palms facing away from you) as long as you can. Switch to a fairly wide neutral grip without resting, and do a few more repetitions. Then switch to a tight neutral grip. Finally with a supinated chip-up handle for a total of four pull-ups in one set. Even if you get only a few repetitions in the last variations, you will feel the muscle overload.
Why does it work? In the pronation position, the bending elements of the elbow bend, the biceps brachii, can not help much while pulling. This puts the full value on the lats. In the neutral grip position the brachioradialis helps to pull. In the supinated position, the biceps brachii play along, allowing for further repetition.
Variant 2: Exchange Dumbbell Rows for Pendlay Rows or Cheat Rows
The Pendlay series takes its name from weightlifting and powerlifting trainer Glenn Pendlay, who loves it as a power lift for the deadlift. But it's just a powerful back-builder too, period.
Basically, it's a variation on the traditional row of dumbbells, where the bar has to start and end for every repetition on the floor. This makes the exercise more stringent than the row of dumbbells because you will not be able to use the lower back and thigh muscles to give the bar a little bounce. For those with back pain, the Pendlay range feels better, as the tension between each repetition falls off the lower back and makes for a slight break.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Cheat series. Start in a traditional position of the dumbbell row and use your thighs to give the bar a slight jump to start each repetition. This movement acts as an overload pattern, as the weight used may be 10 to 20 percent higher than what you would use for a normal row of dumbbells.
Use both in the same training cycle or alternate between them. They are suitable for lower repetition ranges such as 5-8, but also for 8-12 to add both size and strength.
Variant 3: Couple Pulldowns with Seated Rows
We find that lats and the middle back respond very well to excessive volume. This means that supersets and paired sets should be somewhere in the mix! One of our favorites is the combination of sitting-row lat pull-downs to develop the entire back.
While the lat pull-down targets the latissimus dorsi for the spine width, the sitting row targets the rhomboid major and minor and sub-caliper thickness. The result is an effective back-building combination that leaves your upper back painfully (in a good way) for days.
Try to make 4 sets of 12-16 repetitions each. If you can not get both machines at the same time, just use a single stack of cables and bring a bench to sit and handle of your choice.
Variant 4: Add a Band to the Barbell Series
Similar to the Pendlay series, this is a twist on a classic movement that helps many lifters to feel better.
To do this, grind one end of a resistance band to a dumbbell and the other end to something that does not move, such as the dumbbell rack or the cradle. Next, adopt a posture similar to the standard single dumbbell row, with the resistance largely on a horizontal line.
Row the weight from the floor to the hips. The resistance of the band forces you to draw a bow that causes a strong stretch of the LAT muscle and thus a lot of stimuli. Use a very rigid technique (no cheating!) And try to beat 3-4 sets of 12-16 reps.
Variant 5: Cable Stack Back Triset
This is one of our most popular backbuilders at JK Conditioning, the facility we operate. This triset is similar to the mechanical pull-up set, placing the exercises in descending order of difficulty. The three exercises that are used here are the half kneeling high cable row, the straight arm and the low cable row.
Semi-Knee High Cable Series: As the name suggests, this series is performed with one knee on the ground and one cable in the highest position of the cable tower. Use a neutral grip and keep your posture rigid, row the weight out of the high position of the cable until your hands touch your chest. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to make sure you lock the middle back.
Straight Arm Pull-Down: Grasp the handles at the same high cable position and stand your feet wider than hip-width apart with one palm down. Keep your elbows straight and place the handles between the legs from the upper position to make sure the lats are engaged. Imagine you put an orange in your armpits to ensure good pressure from the lats. It seems strange, but it works!
Low Cable Row: Now move the cable to the lower position. Grasp the handle with a neutral grip and stand up with a hip-wide posture. Bend your knees and maintain a rigid back position, similar to a deadlift. In this posture, row the weight in the abdomen and squeeze the shoulder blades vigorously with each repetition.
Perform all three exercises without pausing and aim for 8-12 repeats of the half-kneeling high series (12-16) repeats of the pressure with the straight arm and 16-20 repeats of the low cable row.
Do not look back!
Do not let life kill you with invisible lats! Mix one of these variations into your regular back training and take advantage of the training variety. If you are particularly disappointed with your current back training, replace your current program with all five for a few weeks. You can set it to 1-5 and build a solid back training that will make you feel days later.
If you want to improve your training with unique movements and deep coaching knowledge, check out True Muscle: 9 Weeks to Elite Fitness with Nick Tumminello and former NFL star Steve Weatherford. Over nine weeks you will receive a master class in lifting, programming and all the little things that make a big difference in your results!