Saturday, March 03, 2007

Back Workout

While taking a short break at work,I was asking a coworker about his workout that night. He said he was doing arms. I remarked that it always seemed he was doing arms, chest or, a recently added workout thanks to your truly, shoulders. He said that was all he knew how to lift for, and he had no clue what to do for legs or back. I was dumbfounded as it just seemed normal to me that people worked out everything. I told him that I would design a workout for him to target his back. It really is not that hard. (enjoy the pic to the right)

To warn everyone who might glance at this for some unknown reason, I work out my back and then my biceps on the same day. I pair those two together because of the "push-pull principle"; they both pull. Warm yourself up with some light pull downs to get your mind focused on using the arms as little as possible, and squeezing with your back. Try to use the arms as little as possible, as if they were not there. This is the most important part. If you use your arms more than your back, you're not going to get results. As Mr. Miyagi would say "focusssss".

Pull downs - 3 sets of 8 - I normally do pull ups (see at the end), but I know those are a bitch for most people. Pull downs are a fair substitute. You can do them to the top of your chest or to teh back of your neck. Looking out for safety, I do them to the top of my chest. One thing to keep in mind is the angle of your back while doing this. Try to stay as perpendicular to the ground as possible. People who lean back are cheating, and they are only cheating themselves (tsk tsk).

Deadlifts - 3 sets of 8 - Keep strict form and really squeeze at the top. If you have trouble with balance as I do, use a smith machine for assistance. If you want to go heavier and drop the number of reps, it is fine by me. Do what feels right for your body and growth.

Bent over Barbell Rows - 3 sets of 8
OR One Arm Rows - 3 sets of 8
Everyone needs a rowing motion exercise to develop back thickness. I always view pull ups/downs as the way to get your back wide, but deadlifts and rows as the way to get your back thick. A key to rows is to bring the dumbbell, handle, bar, whatever you use to grip, in towards your lower abdomen. If you pull it into your chest, you are not targeting the back in the proper manner. Pull it in low, which will be tougher, but the reward will be greater.

I tend to add a set or maybe push these to sets of 10, if I am feeling stronger on a certain day. You must do what feesl right. As I noted above, I usually do pull ups (grip has my palms facing away or overhand grip as some call it). On days I do pull ups, I do sets to failure up to a grand total of 50 pull ups or until I am down to doing sets of 1. I start with my grip wide, but with each set, I slowly make my grip narrower. By changing the space between my arms, I change the targeting of muscle fiber recruitment. Routinely, I can crank out 10 the first set, 7-8 the next, 5 the third and then slug my way to 30-35 reps before I can only do 1 pull up. If on your first set you can do 12 or more, add weight with a weight belt. Pull ups wreck my back, and no machine or pull down cable workout equals it. Hammer Strength has a behind the neck pull down machine that comes close, but for my money, pull ups are the best bet to a wider back.

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