Photos by Per Bernal
What's the most demading muscle group to train? We can all probably agree that it’s legs. How about the second most demanding muscle group to work? That’s up for debate. Some may say delts, others abs. IFBB pro Juan “Diesel” Morel says it’s back, hands down. If you vehemently disagree with him, that might say something about your work habits.
“When I train back, I know the next day I’m going to have problems getting out of bed because my back is going to be so tight and so sore,” says Morel. “People talk about their legs hurting and being sore from training, but you rarely hear that about back. When you do it properly, back training takes a lot out of you.”
“A lot of guys have good fronts,” says Morel. “It’s back that separates the good athletes from the great ones. It can make or break you.”
For bodybuilders, the back can never be too good or too strong. If your biceps get too big, you dial them down to make sure they don’t throw off your symmetry. Some athletes even have the genetic fortune to switch quads to “maintenance mode” by ditching barbell squats and sticking to machine exercises.
That doesn’t fly with back. Machines have their rightful place in the weekly rotation—lat pulldowns and cable rows being the prime examples—but even so, hard work and high intensity must remain constant.
“You can’t let up on back,” says Morel. “Got to keep pushing it.”
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