Developing a wide powerful back is important to us. In the gym, it seems to
separate the devoted athletes from the "weekend warriors".
How many times have you noticed someone with lats which
were just "TOO big"? Not in our recent memories. Along
with a big back usually comes solid biceps, powerful
forearms, thick traps and well-shaped deltoids. All these
adjacent body parts are developed indirectly through
intense back/latissimus progressive weight training. To
develop a strong back without affecting these other areas
would be truly difficult if not impossible.
Though extremely valuable, it is hard to motivate yourself
to train this area properly. Back training can be tough
because many of the exercises place a significant stress
on the lower vertebrae and compress the rib cage, making
it difficult to breathe. For instance, bent-over rows,
though extremely effective, can crush your rib cage making
it an uncomfortable position. Heavy seated cable rowing
seems to stress even the healthiest of lumbars. Plus the
motivation to train hard is sometimes lacking since you
canít see your lats easily while pumping them up. Even
with these shortcomings, if you want to develop an
impressive upper torso, you will have to set your
training goals, modify exercises when necessary and train
your back hard and heavy.
There are no short-cuts to a powerful lat structure but a
few rules will make it easier to develop. You need to spend
time learning the exercises so you can feel your lats
contract on each and every repetition. Some trainees spend
years doing mediocre lat training and then suddenly, something
clicks or someone works with them and they finally experience
a full lat pump. One important piece of advice from us:
Perform your back exercises more slowly than your other body
parts avoiding the use of momentum. Focus on contracting your
lats while trying to pull your shoulder blades back as far
and tightly as possible on each exercise. Finally, use an
underhand, palms up grip, on as many exercises as possible.
This places your biceps, which are a weak link in lat
training, in a stronger more favorable position. This will
allow you to take your lat contractions further into fatigue.
Here is a giant set combination which has been very successful
for many of our personal and internet clients. All four
movements should be performed in giant set style. Move from
one exercise to the next, with no rest in between, only the
time it takes to get yourself into position. The four
exercises together count as ONE set. So, you can replace
this sequence in your program but donít perform more than
three total giant sets. If you do, youíll be wiped out!
Rest 3-5 minutes between sets. This combination hits every
angle of your back structure including the width and depth
of your upper, middle and lower back.
#1) Chin-ups (8 to 10 reps)Palms facing you with a
shoulder-width grip. Go to failure and if you canít perform
at least 8 reps, get someone to assist you by the knees for
some forced reps.
#2) Reverse-grip lat pulldowns (6 to 8 reps)With palms facing
you, use a 10-12 inch grip on a straight bar. Pull down to
the top of your upper chest, arching your torso to meet the
bar. Keep your elbows tight to your rib cage and breath
#3) One-arm dumbbell row (8 to 10 reps) Brace your free knee
and arm on a flat bench and pull a dumbbell up to your lower
rib cage, keeping your elbow close to your torso. Lower the
dumbbell slowly with control.
#4) Dumbbell pullovers (12 to 15 reps)Lay your upper back
across a flat bench and lower a dumbbell behind you,
stretching your lats and rib cage, pulling the weight back
up over your head. The key is to keep your hips down close
to the floor. A tip is to take a deep breath before
lowering the weight behind you. This is a great chest
expander as well!
yours in training