BACK - BARBELL ROWS
WHY: Get used to the expression “compound movement,” until it becomes a beloved cliché. It’s the key to my muscle mass for every bodypart; even more so for back, since that’s the most complex muscle group of all. It needs to be developed simultaneously for thickness, width, drape and detail, and that requires very heavy three-dimensional weight resistance, which coordinates all of its muscles, as well as those of the trapezius complex. Only the barbell rowing movement accomplishes this.
HOW: Don’t fix your back in a concave arch (swaybacked). That will only hurt your spine, reduce the range of motion for your lats and limit your power.
To hit the lats as low as possible, I try to keep my upper body bent at a 90-degree angle for the initial sets and bring the bar up into the middle of my stomach. Reps are explosive but controlled, never with a slack point at the bottom. My glutes and lower back are flexed tightly throughout the set. If they aren’t, I will feel stress more in my lower back than in my lats.
As sets pyramid upward in weight, I might have to bend my knees a bit more. This lets me absorb more shock and elevate the angle of my upper body for balance and maximum power, but my concentration remains on getting a full long pull into my gut; i.e., a full range of motion for my lats. I do four heavy working sets, from 12 reps down to seven, squeezing every contraction and feeling my back muscles pump with every rep.
SUGGESTED BACK WORKOUT
WARM-UP SETS: 2-3 sets; 10-12 reps
DEADLIFTS: 4 sets*; 12-2 reps
BARBELL ROWS: 4 sets*; 12-7 reps
T-BAR ROWS: 3 sets; 10-12 reps
PULLEY ROWS: 3 sets; 10-12 reps
*Note: Pyramid up through weights while decreasing reps.
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