X-Man Back Blast

Toney Freeman trains to widen his back and carve out crazy detail.
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Freeman is going to take us through his 2104 pre–Arnold Classic back workout to show us how the X-Man continues to hold his own and hold it down nearing his fifth decade on earth. These days, he’s mixed up his training split a bit, working back after hamstrings and winding up the day with trap and rear delt work, but here we’ll focus solely on the exercises he uses to widen his back and carve out crazy detail.

BEFORE GETTING TO HIS LATS…

“I start my back workout with leg curls to warm up,” explains Freeman. When he’s onstage hitting a rear lat spread or back double biceps, Freeman knows his hamstrings play an integral part. He’s keenly aware that a wide, ripped back doesn’t mean much on top of watery hams and glutes. He always wants to start the blood flowing to the rear of his body, blood he will then pump and shuttle up through his back musculature. Two sets of hyperextensions follow the leg curls and Freeman is ready to hit his lats.

PULLDOWN

“I’ll do as many as eight sets on this exercise for up to 30 reps, but no fewer than eight reps,” Freeman says. “I’ll mix it up, a few sets wide grip, a few narrow, a few underhand, a few over. It’s all about mixing it up and catching the body of guard.” His form is textbook, squeezing at the bottom, stretching at the top. There’s no momentum or heaving the weight. Lately he’s been pyramiding the weight, so the poundages increase as his reps decrease.

There’s not a lot of rest between sets when Freeman trains. “Whenever my partner or partners finish their sets, it’s my turn again.” Freeman describes his back workout as “pretty rapid fire.” Between all sets of exercises, Freeman stretches his back.

FREEMAN’S TOP 7 BODYBUILDER BACKS OF ALL TIME (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

1. Joel Stubbs

2. Ronnie Coleman

3. Phil Heath—”I like Phil’s back a lot. It was always like that; he just made it bigger and kept his proportions.”

4. Lee Haney

5. Dorian Yates

6. Brian Buchanan—“Sometimes people get caught up talking about his tiny waist and forget how good a back Brian had.”

7. Johnnie Jackson

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