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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

5 Back Training Myths You Probably Believe : what it takes to build a back that makes people say “wow.”

My lats in particular need a bit more work but I think you’ll agree they–and my back overall–are no longer a glaring weakness.

So, in this article, I want to to talk all about what it takes to build a back that makes people say “wow.”




Like most major muscle groups, it takes a lot of work to really make your back stand out. A lot more than the pullups and high-rep dumbbell rows that I used to do–that’s for damn sure.

Fortunately, though, it’s not complicated once you know what you’re doing. And I’m going to break it all down here for you–the best back exercises, how I like to program workouts, how supplementation fits into the picture, and more.

The bottom line is if you follow my advice and eat properly, your back will get bigger and stronger.

The Dumbbell Row is a Good Lat Builder

Don't get me wrong. Rowing movements will hit the muscles of the upper back surrounding the scapulae, but you'll get more bang for your buck by using other rowing exercises instead of the one-arm row. This is because of the body's position relative to the dumbbell.

However, if you're going to do dumbbell rows, you can easily optimize the movement pattern to better hit the lats. Use more of an arcing motion that "drags" the weight towards the hip and it'll hit the lats hard. It doesn't take a 160-pound dumbbell and a contortionist twist at the torso to make an exercise like this do its job.

If You’re Pulling, You’re Training Your Back

It’s rare to see a lifter properly initiate a pull by first retracting his scapulae. Many lifters may understand this concept, but still not properly put it into practice. If this is done, most upper back-dominant movements won’t need a lot of weight to elicit a good stimulation and hit a target rep range.

Furthermore, compensatory motions, like the classic torso “jerk” pattern people use to bring the arms towards the body, usually negate any back involvement whatsoever. When we take out excessive body English, momentum, and ego from the picture, it’s worth asking if it’s even possible for 90% of lifters to get a properly isolated back pump when using heavy resistance on the lat pulldown or seated row for reps.

Even those who know how to retract the scapulae first often make the mistake of setting the shoulders “once and for all.” In other words, they keep them depressed and retracted for the entire duration of the set. That’s a recipe for technical disaster. Having good control of the shoulder blades means both making them stay put and allowing them to move. That translates to setting them and then releasing them.

The benefit of “releasing” the shoulder blades between reps is simple: You’re no longer holding an isometric and you give your body the opportunity to reset into a stronger position and allow for greater circulation to the muscles in the process.

If you’re not good at doing this, a smarter alternative would be to break things down to their derivatives. Powerlifters who are weak at their lockout practice lockouts. Take a page out of their book by practicing scapular initiations from various angles.

The Lats Are the “Wings” Outside the Shoulder Blades

I’m tired of hearing people complain of sore lats after a back workout while pointing to the area beside their armpit. It’s a common anatomical misconception that the lats only create width. Not so. They actually go right down to the lumbar region and are also instrumental in developing thickness.

Guys who struggle to develop size will get a lot further by realizing this and tapping into deeper, lower-lat tissue to help increase front-to-back trunk volume. When most people think “lats,” they think pulldowns or chins. But if you’re using poor form, there’s a good chance neither of those exercises will do the job, especially when you consider the force angles needed to zero in on the lat fibers.



Deadlift

The deadlift is at the core of any great weightlifting program.

My back sucked in both strength and size until I started really working on my deadlift and I’ve never looked back.

Many people are afraid of this lift because they think it’s inherently bad for your lower back or dangerous.

At first glance, this fear would seem to make sense: lifting hundreds of pounds off the ground—putting all that pressure on your back, particularly your low-back and erector spinae muscles—would be a recipe for thoracic and lumbar disaster, right?

Well, research shows otherwise.

In fact, when performed with good form, the deadlift is actually a fantastic way to build lower back strength and prevent injury.

That said, if you have sustained a lower back injury in the past or have a disease or dysfunction affecting the area, you may not want to deadlift. Unfortunately, I have to recommend that you consult with a sports doctor to see if it will or won’t work for you.

The Dumbbell Pullover is a Good Lat Exercise

The dumbbell pullover has been an old-school bodybuilding staple for ages. For the record, I’m not bashing the exercise itself – rather the implement being used. Many use pullovers, in part, to train the lats. But the force angle used in a dumbbell pullover will only hit the top half of the lats, and only through about 40% of the movement, at most.

Once the weight passes eye level and approaches the chest and abs, gravity takes over and the shoulders, chest, and triceps begin to bear the load. And that’s without considering that it’s pretty hard to make the back contract and lock/unlock the shoulder blades while you’re lying directly on them.

To make the best of a bad situation, set up an overhead cable pulley and a dual-handled rope (or bar if that’s all you have) in front of a bench. Lie across the bench as you would in a conventional pullover, only grab the ropes instead of a dumbbell.

Since the resistance will now pull your arms overhead towards the cable pulley (and not down towards the floor), you can use your lats to contract directly against the resistance for a much greater percentage of the movement pattern. Problem solved. For best results, use a decline bench.
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