Hitting the basics, but with enough variation

Nov 14, 2019

Given the complicated structure and arrangement of muscles in the back, it can be challenging to see much growth – but with these movements & variations, you should start to see change .

Back has long time been a favorite muscle group of mine to train, which it all started after my first year on stage when I was told by one of the judges that I looked great from the front, but looked like a different person as I turned around to show my back.

This really motivated me to develop my back into one of my strengths that was on par with how i looked from the front. This workout takes into account a lot of the variations that I learned to incorporate into my routines, and made a noticeable difference in both my training and the results I was seeing.

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Grip Type

You’ll notice within the video below that I incorporate at least three different grips when performing many of the same movements. Typically, these can be thought of as an overhand grip (pronated), underhand grip (supinated), and neutral (semi-supinated), whereby the palms are essentially facing each other.

This simple change in how you grip the bar or handle can make quite a difference when performing the exercise as far as what muscles are truly engaged and from what angle. I’m not saying to always use this trio of grips, but try changing up a few grips at least once within your workout – even if it’s only on one particular movement.


Don’t stay fixed at one angle

If you perform the same exercises in the same manner every workout, your body will still quickly adapt and become more efficient at performing that same task with less effort (you can of course increase the weight, but this can only happen over longer periods of time).

By working the back (or any muscle) from a variety of different movements and angles based on how that muscle works, you’ll be sure to stress the muscle much more, and therefore help bring about a great rate of change as the body has to ‘change‘ to improve and ultimately, become more efficient.

Start with the most energetic moves

If you goal really is muscle growth (hypertrophy), then you should be including 1-2 big compound movements early on in the workout when your muscles are not as fatigued as they will be towards the end of the workout. You’ll see within my training video that after spending no less than 10 minutes on a warm up routine for my back, I move straight into barbell rows, progressively building up the weight for each set.


Unilateral Exercises

Don’t forget about adding in at least one unilateral-type movement, where you focus on on just one side of the body at a time. This is important as it means we don’t become to reliant on dominant muscles that usually lead the way when performing movements together with both arms (or legs). Single arm rows are a go-to for this type of training, but many cable movements can also be performed as a single arm, as well as several other back-focused movements. You just need to use a little imagination sometimes as to how you could perform this with just one arm at a time.

Exercise 1

5 sets of 15,12,12,10,8 reps

Exercise 2

4 sets of 12,10,10,8 reps

Exercise 3

3 sets of 12,10,8 reps

Exercise 4

3 sets of 12,12,10 reps

Exercise 5

3 sets of 15,12,12 reps

Spend ten minutes on an effective mobility & warm up circuit before commencing weight lifting routine. * Denotes a super set with both exercises shown.