This post is the first of a new tips series here at John Doe Bodybuilding. In these posts, we will be taking an in depth look at some excellent routines to help you grow and achieve your goals.
Today we are going to cover a good workout for the back.
When working the back, you have two kinds of exercises.
- Exercises for back width – these exercises work your lat muscles, i.e. wide grip pull ups
- Exercises for back thickness (size from front to back) – i.e. rowing movements
If we had to pick only two exercises to build an impressive back, we would pick: deadlifts and wide grip pull ups. These movements will target both back width and back thickness.
Let’s start with wide grip pull ups.
While wrist straps have their place when doing a lot of reps, I recommend you start out without them to develop good forearm strength.
A good staple routine for any trainer is to do 50 wide grip pullups broken up into as many sets as you need to get to 50 while maintaining good form. If you do 10 sets of 10 reps, that’s fine. If you need to do 20 sets of 5 reps, that’s fine too.
Just make sure you get a full stretch with each pull up movement. Avoid the temptation to flail around with your weight, keep good form, and feel the stretch!
That’s how you get those “bat wings”!
When you finish your wide grip pull ups, it’s good to do a lighter, isolated movement before moving onto something more complex and demanding like deadlifts or rows.
So let’s do some straight arm pulldowns.
To get the most out of these, you want to get the maximum stretch. While keeping the back straight, take a step or two back to increase the stretch and pull on your back and serratus muscles (muscles right below your armpits).
Focus on those serratus muscles just underneath your armpits doing most of the work. You should really feel the stretch at the top of the movement.
For these straight arm pulldowns, go for lower weight, excellent form, longer reps (4-5 seconds down, 4-5 seconds up), and A LOT of squeeze.
This is the way to build a beautiful physique: do whatever you can, whether that’s more squeeze or longer reps, to increase the difficulty of the exercise.
And forget about always going to failure. You don’t always want to do that. If you’re doing deadlifts and rows next, you’ll want to save some of your energy.
Let’s finish off with some bent over rows.
Here’s what you need to know: most people are using too much weight when doing bent over rows. They’re swinging the weight, using momentum, and hurting their joints.
Another tip for bent over rows: don’t hold the bar too wide because then your biceps are doing a lot of the work instead of your back.
If lighter weight feels too easy, remember you can always make the exercise harder: hold the contraction longer, give it more squeeze.
When you add weight for a work set, aim to keep the same form, squeeze, and focus as your lighter warm up sets. If you can’t keep good form, then you know you’re going too heavy.
That’s it for today guys. Get in there, get it done, and build that strong back.
Over and out!!