Building A Back From The Ground Up!

I am less than 24 hours before I step on centre stage at the UK’s biggest fitness expo, BodyPower to present a seminar on back training followed by a Q&A where I suspect there will be certain people looking to draw as much information as possible from me. This has inspired me to give our readers a quick inside glimpse into what I have in store for the crowd at my seminar.

Back training, what should you do if building a big strong tapered back is a priority?

1 – Chin Ups
For every back exercise out there which promises to etch your back into a sculpture fit for the scenes of a Gladiator movie I am yet to find one which does it quite as well as wide grip chin ups. This exercise is unmatched for adding width to your latts creating that v-taper which many crave on the same level they do chiselled abs. In my experience there are two elements to getting the most from this exercise – 1, use a full range of motion. I don’t exclusively prescribe a full range of motion but with this exercise I do because it helps engage more of the muscle fibres throughout the back. The back is a large surface area with several independent muscle groups, using a full ROM helps hit each area as you move through each rep. The second part is the isometric phase after the concentric phase – at the top of each rep, pause for 1-2 seconds and squeeze your back muscles like your trying to get water out of a sponge!!!

2 – Row!
There are many different variations of rows you can use – seated cable rows, single arm dumbbell rows, bent over rows. They all have their benefits – all I insist on is that you use at least rowing exercise per back workout. These are your ‘’bread and butter’’ exercises to help stimulate HTMUs (high threshold motor units) in turn increasing the number of muscle fibres you can recruit.

Make sure you use different angles and grips when you row to hit different areas of your back. High rows, low rows, wide grip, close grip, pronated grip, semi-pronated grip, supinated grip. All of these have their place in part of a comprehensive back workout. Sure you won’t use every one of them in each workout but ensure you rotate them over the weeks.

3 – Isolate
My biggest tip to pull your back to pieces (in a good way!!) is to learn to isolate the muscles, keep the tension in the area and learn to feel the muscles working. Like I mentioned in point one, isometrics are so important and the better your connection here the better your progress. There is a time to just pull and a time to ‘’feel it’’ a little more. What I would recommend for beginners is to actually practise squeezing their back muscles out of the gym with no weight purely to improve their mind/muscle connection.

There are my secrets to effectively dismantling your back muscles intelligently. As a final note, ensure you get stronger on your lifts over time – that’s a pretty good way to guarantee long term progress.

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