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Back Has Plateaued, What Now?

Over the last year I really feel like I haven’t added any width or thickness to my back. I’m really out of ideas.

I can deadlift 430 lbs, but I haven’t really added weight onto that in the last couple months. I row 130 lbs. dumbbells for a few reps before my form breaks down, but my gym’s db’s only go up to 120, and I have to use those little magnets to add weight on to hit 130. I can do 17 pullups unweighted and going all the way down to a full stretch. I can do several at 25 lbs. added on.

Really what else is there for basic back exercises? BB rows? I’ve never really felt like I’m hitting my lats as hard with those as I am with DB rows. Not even close. If you look at my back now (in the low or mid 180s) it doesn’t look much thicker than when I weighed around 172 or so.

How have you been training your dead? Have you been repeatedly attempting the 435 max? What does your routine look like?

You shouldn’t expect your back to look noticeably different with a little over 10lbs of weight change.

lift heavier in the deads.

Go for two reps with 430, or 3 with 405.

Start doing barbell rows.

Get your weight up to 220+

Deadlift 500 for 10-15 reps

600 for 5

Row 315+ for reps

Weighted pull ups with 50+lbs for reps

But mainly the weighing 220+ part

[quote]elano wrote:
How have you been training your dead? Have you been repeatedly attempting the 435 max? What does your routine look like?[/quote]

See that’s the thing, my DL isn’t consistent. Some days I pull 405 for 1, others I can pull my max for one. But no matter what I do 4 sets of DL’s, ranging from the mid 350s-whatever my max is on a given day. Then I usually do 2 or 3 sets of good mornings for my lower back/hams. Next is usually 3 or 4 sets of weighted pullups, and a finishing set of unweighted pullups. This usually fatigues my back enough so that the 120 lbs. dbs at my gym are sufficient for rowing, and I do 2 or 3 sets of rows with them. Then I do some DB shrugs, maybe one or two sets for my biceps, and call it a day.

[quote]NewDamage wrote:
Get your weight up to 220+

Deadlift 500 for 10-15 reps

600 for 5

Row 315+ for reps

Weighted pull ups with 50+lbs for reps

But mainly the weighing 220+ part[/quote]

Seconded.

As for rows… They are more of a thickness than width thing (with a few exceptions)… And you can do Pendlay’s and Yates Row variations (without the undergrip, preferably).

Concentrate on the stretch-portion/first half of pull-ups/chins/pulldowns for width… Do 1 1/2 reps or just half-reps or whatever…

Do more reps on the deadlift (just catch your breath between reps quickly and retighten straps if you use them, and don’t use pussy-weight) or Rack Pulls and drive your strength in the 6-8 and 8-12 range up (or whatever ranges you like)…

When doing Rack Pulls, shrug the weight “back” (i.e. chest out, delts back, contract back) or try to anyway (only after each locked out rep, not during the pull itself).

Seriously, what’s so difficult about this?..

[quote]AccipiterQ wrote:
elano wrote:
How have you been training your dead? Have you been repeatedly attempting the 435 max? What does your routine look like?

See that’s the thing, my DL isn’t consistent. Some days I pull 405 for 1, others I can pull my max for one. But no matter what I do 4 sets of DL’s, ranging from the mid 350s-whatever my max is on a given day. Then I usually do 2 or 3 sets of good mornings for my lower back/hams. Next is usually 3 or 4 sets of weighted pullups, and a finishing set of unweighted pullups. This usually fatigues my back enough so that the 120 lbs. dbs at my gym are sufficient for rowing, and I do 2 or 3 sets of rows with them. Then I do some DB shrugs, maybe one or two sets for my biceps, and call it a day. [/quote]

What’s the point in maxing out EVERY back session? Who does bs like that?

Ok.

Pick a few movements and get strong on them man…

Example (you could start off with deadlifts, but this is bodybuilding and not powerlifting and this order works very well for any DC trainee… And judging from Hanley’s results it also works for powerlifters. So.):

-Latwidth exercise (Weighted pullups, chins, pulldowns), concentrate on the stretch part of the exercise (first half).

-Choose something: Either deadlifts/rack pulls followed by leg curls…
OR a row variation followed by SLDL’s/RDL’s/GM’s. Maybe alternate stuff.
Don’t max out all the time, that only has you stalling often/slow progress. 3-4 warm-ups + 1 heavy 6-8 or 4-6 rep set, then a slightly lighter 8-12 or whatever rep set. Grind out the reps as long as your low-back doesn’t round. Catch your breath between reps if you must… No need for setting reps/second records here. That doesn’t get anyone strong.

-DB shrugs, not that you should be able to even do them after rack pulls or deadlifts so I’d do 'em only on row days… If you can put up decent weight on these after rack pulls/deads with a shrug-back motion at the top, then you were a pussy on the pull-variant.

  • 1 or 2 bicep/brachialis/forearm exercises like Pinwheels, Alt. hammers, Alt. Curls, whatever.

Consider that your low-back may need a break, too… So Pulling or GMing heavy every back day might not be the best idea.

And eat more.

And then eat even more than that.

[quote]Cephalic_Carnage wrote:
AccipiterQ wrote:
elano wrote:
How have you been training your dead? Have you been repeatedly attempting the 435 max? What does your routine look like?

See that’s the thing, my DL isn’t consistent. Some days I pull 405 for 1, others I can pull my max for one. But no matter what I do 4 sets of DL’s, ranging from the mid 350s-whatever my max is on a given day. Then I usually do 2 or 3 sets of good mornings for my lower back/hams. Next is usually 3 or 4 sets of weighted pullups, and a finishing set of unweighted pullups. This usually fatigues my back enough so that the 120 lbs. dbs at my gym are sufficient for rowing, and I do 2 or 3 sets of rows with them. Then I do some DB shrugs, maybe one or two sets for my biceps, and call it a day.

What’s the point in maxing out EVERY back session? Who does bs like that?

Ok.

Pick a few movements and get strong on them man…

Example (you could start off with deadlifts, but this is bodybuilding and not powerlifting and this order works very well for any DC trainee… And judging from Hanley’s results it also works for powerlifters. So.):

-Latwidth exercise (Weighted pullups, chins, pulldowns), concentrate on the stretch part of the exercise (first half).

-Choose something: Either deadlifts/rack pulls followed by leg curls…
OR a row variation followed by SLDL’s/RDL’s/GM’s. Maybe alternate stuff.
Don’t max out all the time, that only has you stalling often/slow progress. 3-4 warm-ups + 1 heavy 6-8 or 4-6 rep set, then a slightly lighter 8-12 or whatever rep set. Grind out the reps as long as your low-back doesn’t round. Catch your breath between reps if you must… No need for setting reps/second records here. That doesn’t get anyone strong.

-DB shrugs, not that you should be able to even do them after rack pulls or deadlifts so I’d do 'em only on row days… If you can put up decent weight on these after rack pulls/deads with a shrug-back motion at the top, then you were a pussy on the pull-variant.

  • 1 or 2 bicep/brachialis/forearm exercises like Pinwheels, Alt. hammers, Alt. Curls, whatever.

Consider that your low-back may need a break, too… So Pulling or GMing heavy every back day might not be the best idea.

And eat more.

And then eat even more than that.

[/quote]

OK, so let’s say I do this today:

4 sets weighted pullups 6-8 reps
the 2 working sets of rack pulls you recommend, one at 6-8, and one at 8-12
3 sets of leg curls
2 sets of pinwheels (just looked those up, I’m excited to try them)

that’s only about 11 sets total, for back/hams/biceps/traps. Is that really enough?

Also, you’re probably right about my lower back. I’ve been noticing the last few weeks that it’s always pretty fatigued. I notice it a lot when I Squat.

When was the last time you significantly changed your program? Do you change your tempo/rep scheme/rest intervals?

I think many important training suggestions have been made

but i want to third the notion that you need to eat more. gaining 10 lbs in a year will not show a huge improvement in any particular bodypart, because those 10lbs are distributed all over body in who knows what proportions of lean vs fat tissue vs water vs shit in your intestines…

so yes, you must eat to grow.

[quote]mallen5 wrote:
When was the last time you significantly changed your program? Do you change your tempo/rep scheme/rest intervals?[/quote]

I never really do the exact same thing 2 weeks in a row, although I always deadlifted first. Although rep scheme is usually always the same for each exercise, no matter where I do it in the order

[quote]AccipiterQ wrote:

OK, so let’s say I do this today:

4 sets [/quote] 1 working set, or do 2 if you want [quote] weighted pullups 6-8 reps [/quote] A little higher in reps here maybe, not overly difficult to get injured on… Personal preference, of course.[quote]
the 2 working sets of rack pulls you recommend, one at 6-8, and one at 8-12[/quote] Don’t forget the attempted shrug backwards after each lock-out. [quote]
3 sets of leg curls [/quote] Same set comment as above [quote]
2 sets of pinwheels (just looked those up, I’m excited to try them) [/quote] Did you run across SM7 doing the 125’s on youtube? [quote]

that’s only about 11 sets total, for back/hams/biceps/traps. Is that really enough? [/quote] Why should it matter whether it’s 11 sets or 6 sets? As long as you progress and do enough reps on your work-sets, I don’t see what the obsession with “enough” is…

I’d rather get stronger faster than do a ton of movements/sets just so I can fill some bs quota of “12-20 sets per bodypart” or whatever.
Progression is what gets you big, not random “rules” of how much volume you must/must not do.
Nobody cares if you can BO row 135 for 10 sets of 10. The guy doing way more weight than that for only one set of 10 is most likely the one with the bigger back, no matter how mathematics make it seem.

If you can progress well and fast when doing 4 work sets at the same weight on each move, go for it. Most can’t.
You also have joints and tendons to think of…

The way I’d do it would actually mean that it’s only 1 work/top set per exercise unless noted (2 for rack pulls)…
I’d do some bicep move before the pinwheels as well.

Depends on your preferences of course, but I don’t see the point in doing 4 work sets of weighted pull-ups… Ramp up the weight and shoot for 8-15 on your work-set, pull-ups are great for rest-pausing (15-30 total range in case of DC RP, 12-20 at the least) so you can get some extra “volume” in…

If you think it’s not enough and don’t trust me… Have a look at “Professor X: A request” and pay attention to how he does his sets (ramping up) and how many exercises he does on back day.
And that’s an advanced trainee to boot.
Or look at the progress of josh in BOI 2.0 /3.0 after he switched to that way of doing things…

If you’re some sort of volume-freak like bauer then you should already have noticed that before and would probably have no problem progressing on your current plan… [quote]

Also, you’re probably right about my lower back. I’ve been noticing the last few weeks that it’s always pretty fatigued. I notice it a lot when I Squat. [/quote]

If you also squat heavy and for reps in the same week, then you ought to give it a break (the low back I mean) occasionally…
Of course one can squat, deadlift, BO row and do heavy good mornings all in the same week and for 4 work sets each… But you don’t stay young forever and at some point that kind of stuff catches up to you.
Probably sooner rather than later.

And again: Eat more. Gotta always remind you of that for good measure.
Food intake takes care of a plateau 9 out of 10 times when we’re talking about beginners and intermediates…

[quote]Cephalic_Carnage wrote:

As for rows… They are more of a thickness than width thing (with a few exceptions)… And you can do Pendlay’s and Yates Row variations (without the undergrip, preferably).

[/quote]

Pendlays with the double over grip hit my back more in the middle (horizontally) than, say, b/o rows and could be a good variation for you, Accipiter, to mix things up. The points made by Cephalic_Carnage on progression are what you should really consider, though.

Jesus C_C you must love helping people or be a glutton for punishment…

Another bump to EAT. Even with all this training info, its not going to do any good if you are 190 in a year.

What is the duration of your typical workout?

[quote]Cephalic_Carnage wrote:
AccipiterQ wrote:

OK, so let’s say I do this today:

4 sets 1 working set, or do 2 if you want weighted pullups 6-8 reps A little higher in reps here maybe, not overly difficult to get injured on…

Personal preference, of course.
the 2 working sets of rack pulls you recommend, one at 6-8, and one at 8-12 Don’t forget the attempted shrug backwards after each lock-out.

3 sets of leg curls Same set comment as above
2 sets of pinwheels (just looked those up, I’m excited to try them) Did you run across SM7 doing the 125’s on youtube? that’s only about 11 sets total, for back/hams/biceps/traps. Is that really enough? Why should it matter whether it’s 11 sets or 6 sets? As long as you progress and do enough reps on your work-sets, I don’t see what the obsession with “enough” is…

I’d rather get stronger faster than do a ton of movements/sets just so I can fill some bs quota of “12-20 sets per bodypart” or whatever.
Progression is what gets you big, not random “rules” of how much volume you must/must not do.
Nobody cares if you can BO row 135 for 10 sets of 10. The guy doing way more weight than that for only one set of 10 is most likely the one with the bigger back, no matter how mathematics make it seem.

If you can progress well and fast when doing 4 work sets at the same weight on each move, go for it. Most can’t. You also have joints and tendons to think of…

The way I’d do it would actually mean that it’s only 1 work/top set per exercise unless noted (2 for rack pulls)…

I’d do some bicep move before the pinwheels as well.

Depends on your preferences of course, but I don’t see the point in doing 4 work sets of weighted pull-ups… Ramp up the weight and shoot for 8-15 on your work-set, pull-ups are great for rest-pausing (15-30 total range in case of DC RP, 12-20 at the least) so you can get some extra “volume” in…

If you think it’s not enough and don’t trust me… Have a look at “Professor X: A request” and pay attention to how he does his sets (ramping up) and how many exercises he does on back day.
And that’s an advanced trainee to boot.
Or look at the progress of josh in BOI 2.0 /3.0 after he switched to that way of doing things…

If you’re some sort of volume-freak like bauer then you should already have noticed that before and would probably have no problem progressing on your current plan…

Also, you’re probably right about my lower back. I’ve been noticing the last few weeks that it’s always pretty fatigued. I notice it a lot when I Squat.

If you also squat heavy and for reps in the same week, then you ought to give it a break (the low back I mean) occasionally…

Of course one can squat, deadlift, BO row and do heavy good mornings all in the same week and for 4 work sets each… But you don’t stay young forever and at some point that kind of stuff catches up to you.
Probably sooner rather than later.

And again: Eat more. Gotta always remind you of that for good measure.
Food intake takes care of a plateau 9 out of 10 times when we’re talking about beginners and intermediates…

[/quote]

Yo C_C just given you props because you always seem to have the patience to answer these annoyingly repeating questions tactly and comprehensively.

[quote]That One Guy wrote:

Yo C_C just given you props because you always seem to have the patience to answer these annoyingly repeating questions tactly and comprehensively.[/quote]

You guys must have missed all my “I would… Oh, screw it” etc posts lol

Or you could just follow one of the hundred free programs on this site instead of asking stupid questions.

[quote]NewDamage wrote:
Jesus C_C you must love helping people or be a glutton for punishment…

Another bump to EAT. Even with all this training info, its not going to do any good if you are 190 in a year.[/quote]

Ditto on both parts. Great job C_C. I would say though, that volume definitely has it’s place. I’m not a volume freak and traditionally I’ve violently hated volume workouts, but damn if my back hasn’t responded well lately to doing a bunch of volume on one day and then some throughout the week.

My full split was posted on another back training thread (Back Day Opinions, or Opinions on my Back Day, or something like that) so I won’t bother putting it here, but I can do about 20 sets on back day (not including DLs).

…Although I do ramp up my sets. But all the sets that I count in my volume calculations are already heavy enough to get a training effect. The first movement of the day is always warmed up for thoroughly (eg-- listed “5x5 rows” but I would do 5 progressively heavier warm-up sets for a total of 10 sets), and I’ll warm-up in others if I feel the need to.