New Year, New Muscle: Back

The Gift's plan to build the most devastating back in the business
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It’s January and you’re fired up for 2014. Your goal is simple: get freaking huge! But before you step in the gym and get after it, you need to arm yourself with the right routines. That’s where we come in. We’ve compiled workouts from some of the greatest bodybuilders to ever cinchup a weightlifting belt and answer the challenge of the iron.  So put your game face on, turn up the volume on your favorite training tunes, and make 2014 your year for packing on wall-to-wall muscle.

BACK: PHIL HEATH

In 2006, when 26-year-old Phil Heath won his pro debut at the IFBB Colorado Pro, and then a week later, the New York Pro, it seemed that he would be challenging for the coveted Sandow sooner rather than later. But the following year, Heath fell short against established veterans in his first big contest outing, placing fifth at the 2007 Arnold Classic. Following the setback, one weakness that critics pounced on was his back, especially given that the Mr. Olympia is won largely from the moment the combatants turn away from the judges for the fourth and fifth mandatory poses: the rear-double biceps and the rear-lat spread. But an eye-opening back workout with Jay Cutler helped the Gift rework his plan of attack.

Basic free-weight exercises became the staples of his back workouts. Rows with barbells (using both pronated and reverse grips) and dumbbells beefed up his lats, rhomboids, and middle traps. Wide-grip pullups and lat pulldowns stretched his lats laterally. Over the course of the next few years, his back grew and grew. In fact, throughout his career, Heath has made more improvements to his physique than any other bodybuilder, past or present. With thickness, width, separation, and intricate detail, a former weakness was transformed into a strength, and Heath now owns the most devastating shots in the sport. Suffice it to say that the three-time Mr. Olympia will never have to back down from the competition again.

THE WORKOUT: BACK

  • Wide-grip pulldown: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Seated cable row: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Barbell row:* 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • One-arm dumbbell row: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Lat pulldown: 4 sets of 10-12 reps
  • *Alternate between pronated and reverse grips

CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPLETE "NEW YEAR, NEW MUSCLE" SERIES

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