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A Little Help with My Back?


I'm having trouble getting a good back pump. I try to pull with my elbows instead of my hands, and I try to hit my back from a variety of angles. I just can't seem to get that swollen feeling after a workout. Here's my back routine (the latest experiment):

5x5 deadlift - working up to the last set, and trying to beat last week's best.
5x5 chinups - same as above
3x10 bent rows - same weight throughout, grip varies week to week
3x20 dumbbell rows on a decline bench

Next week I'm gonna try the arc rows in Thibs' latest article. Any suggestions?

No access to cables. Barbell and dumbbell only.


One of the earlier things I realized in my own back work, was that if I used a close grip (or V-grip attachment) for most of my back work, I felt more of a stretch, and better pump from my exercises.

Keep the deads if you want, but try your chins with a v-grip over the bar,and try your bent rows with a reverse/close grip.



Try doing one-onehalf reps (pull the weight towards you, then lower it half-way down, pull back up, lower all the way down. That's one rep.)

Do that on rowing exercises. Maybe drop one of the row variations, though, and concentrate on really getting form and feeling of the other down...
Besides, you can do bent-rows after deadlifts? Deadlift heavier and drop the bent-rows :wink:

Try chins either with the same technique, but do the half reps from the stretch position, or do a regular set and then a set of half reps from the stretch... Whatever you like.

Deadlifts: After locking out the weight, shrug BACKWARDS. After every rep.


Here is one way to really stimulate every fibre in your back: bent over row/deadlift superset.Perform 8-10 reps of bent over barbell rows and immediately do 12 reps of deadlifts.Pick a weight that you can only do 8-10 reps on the rows.Do this for 5 sets after pullups.


That sounds like a horrible idea for your lower back.


I've only gotten a pump in my lower back, ever.

I do get sore though. But are you growing? If so, who cares right?


For some reason, no matter how hard I work out my back, it does not get as sore as my other body parts yet it still grows.

But if you're looking for a good pump, you can always try what I do: A set of barbell rows in the 4-8 range and then a set of rear laterals in the 8-10 range.

I've also noticed that CT's bent trunk rope rowing gives me a nice pump.


use a straight bar on cable rows, slightly less then shoulder width grip. And lean back a bit if you want to hit your lats more and straighter up if traps/etc.

Literally my new favorite back excercise.


Half ROM chins. DOn't allow your biceps to assist if you can. I can't remember the last time I chinned and my face went above my hands.



My lower back gets about 20 minutes of rest after the last set of deads, so the bent rows are no problem for my lower back. I actually designed the workout to work that way, hitting my lower back with heavy weight for low reps, rest, then lighter weight for a longer duration (basically an isometric hold for 30 secs).

I'll definitely try the half-reps on chins, and the flex after each rep on deadlift.

Thanks for the help, guys. I'll let you know how it goes after next week's back session.


Yea I would have to agree.


toss that V grip on the cable and hit them rows.

i dont do pullups i never feel them.

racks will be good, closegrip pull downs, thats all i really do.


ach dinni worry about a pump in your back, if your progressing thats what matters , if your increasing your lifts you'll be increasing muscle, fine line between stimutating and anihilating the muscle, looks alot of exercises


try a little pre-exhaust. you don't have cables so try a set of stiff arm db pullovers immediately followed by either chins or rows. i can't imagine you not getting a good pump then.


I say take away dumbell rows and make chinups weighted


Damn, I can't believe I forgot about pullovers. Thanks

Chinups are already weighted. At this point, I'm not adding that much extra weight, but I'm progressing.

Why would I leave out dumbbell rows? It's one of my best moves for traps.


So here's the routine I'm thinking of trying next week, what do you think?

Deads 5x5 (always trying for 5lb. PR)flexing back at lockout on each rep

Half-rep Pullups 5x5. (always trying for 5lb. PR) Using pullups instead of chins because I'll be working the forward angle with pullovers and rows.

Bent Rows 3x10.

Superset: 3x
Pullover 10 reps
DB Row 10 reps

I like the idea of half-rep pullups because I have a brachioradialis strain that is taking a long time to heal. It affects me more on pullups than it does on chins, but it doesn't bother me at all on a half-rep pullup.

Thanks again for all the help.


not necessarily true, auxiliary muscles might be taking most of the brunt of the exercise. This is a crucially important part of training, feeling the muscle you are supposed to be working. This is especially important on all pulling exercises, just seems that more people don't feel their back working on pulling exercises compared to any other bodypart.


Well, first, you aren't going to be much of a pump with 5 rep sets. So it's not surprising that the deads and chins aren't giving you much in that department.

That said, the pump isn't really what you should be after, progression is. I do understand though that if you aren't feeling the correct muscles working, you probably need to change something.

I'd suggest:

First moving the deads to the end of the workout (that way you don't have to save anything, you can give them everything you've got),

Second consider switching to rack deads (which IMO are a better upper back builder and have less chance of lower back injury, oh and you can use heavier weight) and dropping the bent rows

Or alternating between floor deads and bent rows (I agree with Carnage that doing both in the same workout isn't a great idea in the long run) in subsequent workouts

Third do a higher rep set of deads/rack deads after you've completed your heavy set. Shoot for somewhere between 15-20 reps and you will absolutely feel your back working. And make this challenging. I realize your profile says you've only been training for 5 months (this time around), so I don't know how your grip on form is. But unless you push yourself (while still trying to maintain safety of course) you're never going to really feel much with these.

Fourth make sure that you are getting a good stretch at the bottom of your chins/DB rows, and really work on pulling with the desired muscles; and try those 1 and a halves that Carnage mentioned on the chins (higher reps too if possible).

Fifth work on activation. Try practicing flexing your lats and upper back muscles (yeah I mean actually stand in front of a mirror and practice some BB'ing mandatory poses, in the privacy of your own home if you like) to get better at feeling these muscles contracting and activating them.

Lots of other good advice given as well.


I like deads, db rows, and chins for development but I never really get a good pump from them. Because I get the development, I dont care about the pump.

When I feel the need for a pump I do a couple of heavy sets of the staples and then finish off with:

1) Straight arm lat pull but you dont have cables so pullovers.
2) any form of bent-over rowing with lighter weight and a emphasized squeeze and 3 count on the negative.

I find when looking for the pump lighter weight and mind muscle connection with a slower tempo to be most important.

and oh yeah I dont know of anyone who gets a pump anywhere other than their lower back when doing deads.