The back is an area that can be an extremely weak spot on the physique of many bodybuilders, but it is the body part that wins Mr. Olympia contests. There is just something extremely impressive about a great back that helps win shows. Training the back requires some thinking. You will want to include exercises in your back workouts that focus on width and some that focus on thickness. I personally split my back training into two days for this very reason, but today's back devastation workout combines the two elements into a back workout you will not soon forget.
The lats make up the width of your back when viewed dead on. The better your lats the wider your back is going to look. Of course, you want to balance this out with broad shoulders and a narrow waist.
The rowing movements help to thicken up your back. When you are looked at from the side, how thick do you look? That's what I am speaking of when talking about thickness of the back.
The Back Devastation Workout
As mentioned, this workout will attack the width and thickness of the back. The key concept is what I call “The Squeeze” and it applies to every single exercise you do for any body part. Without “The Squeeze” you will not be seeing the kind of growth your body is capable of.
|Lat Pull Downs||4||6-8|
|Seated Cable Row||4||6-8|
|1 Arm DB Row (lat emphasis to the side)||4||12-15|
|BB Bent Over Rows||4||10-12|
Every other week you will want to modify this workout by replacing deadlifts with rack pulls. You will do 5 sets of rack pulls. Try to go as heavy as you can and get 6-8 repetitions on them.
How to Execute the Exercises
T-Bar Row: Most gyms do not have a t-bar row machine, so you have to use a barbell. Take the barbell and put it into the corner of a power rack and weigh it down with a heavy dumbbell. Get a v-handle and place it under the bar as close to the weight as possible. Bend your knees and arch your back. Pull the bar up and get “The Squeeze”. Lower the bar under control and get a stretch at the bottom. Repeat. You can see a video for this exercise here.
Pull ups: Get under a pull up bar (assisted or otherwise) and grab with a wide grip. Using your back muscles, get ‘The Squeeze” and move yourself up above the bar. Lower yourself under control. You can see a video for this exercise here.
Lat Pull Downs: This one is controversial because of what I consider the correct form. You want to use a wide grip on the bar. You will squeeze your lats hard ans you pull the bar down to your chest, get “The Squeeze” and then raise the bar in a controlled fashion until you get stretched at the top of the movement. Repeat. The controversy is that I want you leaning slightly back the entire time. As I saw Dave Pulcinella relate to his Facebook page, he was once doing lat pulldowns this way. He was approached by a personal trainer at the gym who warned him of the injury potential. When Dave ignored him, the trainer commented “I know what I am talking about–I've had 4 lumbar surgeries.” Dave smiled and said “I've been lifting this way for 20 years. Who should we listen to, the guy who has never had a surgery or the one who has had 4?” The point is clear. Do the form correctly and you are good to go. See a video for this exercise here.
Seated Cable Rows: Sit in the cable machine with a v-handle. Grip the handle tightly and place your feet on the support. Pull the handle to your midsection and get “The Squeeze” and then return to the starting position with a stretch. You can see a video for this exercise here.
Hammer Rows: Sit in a Hammer High Row machine and grip the handles with an underhanded grip. Pull the weight to where your arms are just in line with your lats, get “The Squeeze” and then return to the starting position. Repeat the movement. You can see a video for this exercise here
1 Arm DB Row: This is not done the traditional way. Instead of pulling the weight straight up with your arm close to the body, you move the weight out to the side like doing a slight lateral. Get “The Squeeze” and then return to the start with the weight under control. You are not going to be able to move as heavy a weight doing it this way. The emphasis is on the lats, which will widen your back. I did not find a video and will have to record one next chance I get.
Deadlift: This exercise will make you feel like a beast. Get in close to the bar so that when you bend down, your shins touch the bar. You can use a switch grip if you'd like. Keep your hands close to your legs. Lean back and push the ground away from you. As the weight lifts off the floor, push the floor away and then push your hips forward. Lock out and lower the weight under control to start again. You can see a video of this exercise here.
Rack Pulls: These are basically half deadlifts. You set up the power rack so that the safety bars are just below your knee. Load up the bar and then get into position like a deadlift. The difference here is that you are going to hold the bar against the front posts of the rack the entire time. Push your hips forward and at the very top of the motion, squeeze your shoulder blades tightly. This will give you a major pump in your back. Lower the weight under control. You can view a video of this exercise here.
Consistency is the Key
As I always tell you, being consistent is the key and that is no different here. Be consistent in getting this training done regularly. You will see some major improvements. Here are some before and after pictures of my own back. These were taken just 3 months apart using a workout just like the Back Devastation Workout.
Before you laugh at me, I know I have work to do, but you can clearly see improvements in just 3 months time. You can see even more improvements yourself by pushing yourself the way the Back Devastation Workout pushes you.