T Nation

Back Help

So I feel that of all my body parts to train, my back gives me the most trouble. So I would like some advice from those of you who have been around the block a few times.

Currently, on back day (I am on a 5 way split, so I only do each group once a week), I do pullups (3 x 8, as many as I can unassisted, followed by assisted to finish the set), one armed DB rows (3 x 8 - 12), deadlifts (1 x 3 - 5), and inverted rows (I think that is what they are called, where I hang underneath the barbell with my feet up on a chair) for (3 x failure) - once I can do the inverted rows 3 x 15, I’ll be adding weight.

So my back is pretty underdeveloped. I can press 3 x 5 at 140, bench 3 x 5 at 200lbs, squat 3 x 5 at 300, and deadlift 1 x 5 at 400 (I’m obviously rounding here) to give y’all a rough idea of where I’m at regarding strength training, even though it is not very significant on a BB forum.

I want a strong back, a thick back, and a wider back. I have no machines, but I do have a squat rack, barbell, dumbbells, and pullup bar. And yes, I’m posting in the BB section on purpose, because while I don’t mind getting stronger (who wouldn’t want to be stronger), my focus is on looking good naked.

Many thanks!

–Me

[quote]kravi wrote:
So I feel that of all my body parts to train, my back gives me the most trouble. So I would like some advice from those of you who have been around the block a few times.

Currently, on back day (I am on a 5 way split, so I only do each group once a week), I do pullups (3 x 8, as many as I can unassisted, followed by assisted to finish the set), one armed DB rows (3 x 8 - 12), deadlifts (1 x 3 - 5), and inverted rows (I think that is what they are called, where I hang underneath the barbell with my feet up on a chair) for (3 x failure) - once I can do the inverted rows 3 x 15, I’ll be adding weight.

So my back is pretty underdeveloped. I can press 3 x 5 at 140, bench 3 x 5 at 200lbs, squat 3 x 5 at 300, and deadlift 1 x 5 at 400 (I’m obviously rounding here) to give y’all a rough idea of where I’m at regarding strength training, even though it is not very significant on a BB forum.

I want a strong back, a thick back, and a wider back. I have no machines, but I do have a squat rack, barbell, dumbbells, and pullup bar. And yes, I’m posting in the BB section on purpose, because while I don’t mind getting stronger (who wouldn’t want to be stronger), my focus is on looking good naked.

Many thanks!

–Me[/quote]

Okay, my back has naturally been a fairly strong point, but it seems like a lot of people “don’t get it” a lot of times when it comes to triggering the lats when doing back work. Here’s a few things off the top of my head;

1.) Are you doing your pull-ups first? How strict? Can you rotate your grips around? I have had awesome success with pre-fatiguing the lats with a set of wide-grip pull-ups to just under failure, a set of neutral-grip pull-ups to just under failure, and then a set of underhand pull-ups to just under failure. Don’t worry as much about total reps and stuff as far as this is concerned, but really flare the living fuck out of your lats when doing these. I see so many people who do pull-ups but only use half-ROM and don’t give their back a “full extension” at the bottom part of the movement. Do it this way. It will be hard as hell, but rotating around your grip will activate a lot of different muscles in your back so you can consciously focus on them better later in the workout.

2.) How much of a pump do you get in your lats from doing DB rows? It’s very possible you’re angling these in the wrong direction and either hitting more of your “upper back” muscles (supraspinatus, mid/upper traps, etc.,) or you may quite possibly be using too much weight with the whole “Kroc Row” mania that resounded out there for a while. I have noticed myself, through trial and error, as well as anecdotes from others, that DB rows with great form will trump loose and heavy DB rows. They have their place, but should by no means be a mainstay of your repertoire. Really flex your lats when you’re contracting - and this should help out.

3.) Why are you DL’ing so heavy at this point in your workout? Really, IMO, these should be partial deadlifts (just below knee level) for maybe a few sets of 8-12 or so. Because your back (should already be) fatigued, you’re probably using a lot of your legs and lower back when performing this movement. Just seems like very odd placement + rep combination at this point if your goal is hypertrophy. Do them at the beginning or just after pull-ups if you’re really trying to go heavier. I still think partial DLs are a superior movement for bodybuilders.

4.) Inverted Rows - I’ve generally heard these termed as “Rack Chins.” It’s a great movement. Similarly to the pull-up movement listed first, be strict with these to reap the benefits. Make sure your feet are high on a bench when doing these as well. The bar should be high as well and your ass should be somewhere around a foot off the ground, give or take. Huge contraction at the bottom, and a big squeeze at the top. Rotate wide/close/underhand/overhand grips to figure out the best ways to hit your targeted muscles.

Really, I can’t say how good you are at firing those lat muscles and SERIOUSLY getting a good MindMuscleConnection with these, but I can’t emphasize enough how big of a difference that, coupled with big stretches, will probably make a difference in your physique.

I’m sure others may disagree with some things I’ve said here, but this is all based on my experience with back training in general.

[quote]kravi wrote:

So my back is pretty underdeveloped.

[/quote]

Pics?

[quote]SSC wrote:

Okay, my back has naturally been a fairly strong point, but it seems like a lot of people “don’t get it” a lot of times when it comes to triggering the lats when doing back work. Here’s a few things off the top of my head;

1.) Are you doing your pull-ups first? How strict? Can you rotate your grips around? I have had awesome success with pre-fatiguing the lats with a set of wide-grip pull-ups to just under failure, a set of neutral-grip pull-ups to just under failure, and then a set of underhand pull-ups to just under failure. Don’t worry as much about total reps and stuff as far as this is concerned, but really flare the living fuck out of your lats when doing these. I see so many people who do pull-ups but only use half-ROM and don’t give their back a “full extension” at the bottom part of the movement. Do it this way. It will be hard as hell, but rotating around your grip will activate a lot of different muscles in your back so you can consciously focus on them better later in the workout.

[/quote]

I am currently just doing 3 sets of regular pullups, hands about shoulder width (maybe a wee bit more) apart. As I can only do 3 at a time, I’m limited in volume, so I use my legs on a chair to assist me to finish out the rest of the reps. Going to just under failure would be two pullups instead of three. Or maybe the three is just under failure, but either way, it ain’t alot… I can certainly add neutral grip and chin ups to the mix, though.

I do DB rows with very strict form and a neutral grip. I certainly feel it working my upper back and lats. I’m just never sore in my back the next day (or two).

I love DLing heavy. I’m not a bodybuilder, just someone who wants to be stronger and look better nekkid. So some exercises (like shoulder press, bench, DL, and squats I do heavy). Why is it third? Because if I do it first, it messes up my ability to do pullups (which isn’t very good in the first place).

[quote]

4.) Inverted Rows - I’ve generally heard these termed as “Rack Chins.” It’s a great movement. Similarly to the pull-up movement listed first, be strict with these to reap the benefits. Make sure your feet are high on a bench when doing these as well. The bar should be high as well and your ass should be somewhere around a foot off the ground, give or take. Huge contraction at the bottom, and a big squeeze at the top. Rotate wide/close/underhand/overhand grips to figure out the best ways to hit your targeted muscles.

Really, I can’t say how good you are at firing those lat muscles and SERIOUSLY getting a good MindMuscleConnection with these, but I can’t emphasize enough how big of a difference that, coupled with big stretches, will probably make a difference in your physique.

I’m sure others may disagree with some things I’ve said here, but this is all based on my experience with back training in general.[/quote]

Thanks for the all the feedback! I can feel the back muscles working, and I think I have a pretty decent mind muscle connexion with my back in general. I just don’t feel like I’m stimulating it optimally, and that it is slower to grow than any other area.

–Me

[quote]SSC wrote:

[quote]kravi wrote:
So I feel that of all my body parts to train, my back gives me the most trouble. So I would like some advice from those of you who have been around the block a few times.

Currently, on back day (I am on a 5 way split, so I only do each group once a week), I do pullups (3 x 8, as many as I can unassisted, followed by assisted to finish the set), one armed DB rows (3 x 8 - 12), deadlifts (1 x 3 - 5), and inverted rows (I think that is what they are called, where I hang underneath the barbell with my feet up on a chair) for (3 x failure) - once I can do the inverted rows 3 x 15, I’ll be adding weight.

So my back is pretty underdeveloped. I can press 3 x 5 at 140, bench 3 x 5 at 200lbs, squat 3 x 5 at 300, and deadlift 1 x 5 at 400 (I’m obviously rounding here) to give y’all a rough idea of where I’m at regarding strength training, even though it is not very significant on a BB forum.

I want a strong back, a thick back, and a wider back. I have no machines, but I do have a squat rack, barbell, dumbbells, and pullup bar. And yes, I’m posting in the BB section on purpose, because while I don’t mind getting stronger (who wouldn’t want to be stronger), my focus is on looking good naked.

Many thanks!

–Me[/quote]

Okay, my back has naturally been a fairly strong point, but it seems like a lot of people “don’t get it” a lot of times when it comes to triggering the lats when doing back work. Here’s a few things off the top of my head;

1.) Are you doing your pull-ups first? How strict? Can you rotate your grips around? I have had awesome success with pre-fatiguing the lats with a set of wide-grip pull-ups to just under failure, a set of neutral-grip pull-ups to just under failure, and then a set of underhand pull-ups to just under failure. Don’t worry as much about total reps and stuff as far as this is concerned, but really flare the living fuck out of your lats when doing these. I see so many people who do pull-ups but only use half-ROM and don’t give their back a “full extension” at the bottom part of the movement. Do it this way. It will be hard as hell, but rotating around your grip will activate a lot of different muscles in your back so you can consciously focus on them better later in the workout.

2.) How much of a pump do you get in your lats from doing DB rows? It’s very possible you’re angling these in the wrong direction and either hitting more of your “upper back” muscles (supraspinatus, mid/upper traps, etc.,) or you may quite possibly be using too much weight with the whole “Kroc Row” mania that resounded out there for a while. I have noticed myself, through trial and error, as well as anecdotes from others, that DB rows with great form will trump loose and heavy DB rows. They have their place, but should by no means be a mainstay of your repertoire. Really flex your lats when you’re contracting - and this should help out.

3.) Why are you DL’ing so heavy at this point in your workout? Really, IMO, these should be partial deadlifts (just below knee level) for maybe a few sets of 8-12 or so. Because your back (should already be) fatigued, you’re probably using a lot of your legs and lower back when performing this movement. Just seems like very odd placement + rep combination at this point if your goal is hypertrophy. Do them at the beginning or just after pull-ups if you’re really trying to go heavier. I still think partial DLs are a superior movement for bodybuilders.

4.) Inverted Rows - I’ve generally heard these termed as “Rack Chins.” It’s a great movement. Similarly to the pull-up movement listed first, be strict with these to reap the benefits. Make sure your feet are high on a bench when doing these as well. The bar should be high as well and your ass should be somewhere around a foot off the ground, give or take. Huge contraction at the bottom, and a big squeeze at the top. Rotate wide/close/underhand/overhand grips to figure out the best ways to hit your targeted muscles.

Really, I can’t say how good you are at firing those lat muscles and SERIOUSLY getting a good MindMuscleConnection with these, but I can’t emphasize enough how big of a difference that, coupled with big stretches, will probably make a difference in your physique.

I’m sure others may disagree with some things I’ve said here, but this is all based on my experience with back training in general.[/quote]

Great post. Thanks for this.

I’d do at least one more exercise for back if I were you. Also, when doing back some exercises lend themselves better to a squeeze at the contracted portion (pulldowns, cable rows) and some lend themselves better to a piston like rep cadence (db, bb rows). Do the deadlifts last in your workout, start with an isolation movement (pullover) so you get your back pumped and get a better feel for the next exercises, do a bb or db row, and put deadlifts last. I’d also give rack chins a try if I were you and I’d go heavier and ramping up your sets in your exercises.

[quote]myself1992 wrote:
I’d do at least one more exercise for back if I were you. Also, when doing back some exercises lend themselves better to a squeeze at the contracted portion (pulldowns, cable rows) and some lend themselves better to a piston like rep cadence (db, bb rows). Do the deadlifts last in your workout, start with an isolation movement (pullover) so you get your back pumped and get a better feel for the next exercises, do a bb or db row, and put deadlifts last. I’d also give rack chins a try if I were you and I’d go heavier and ramping up your sets in your exercises.[/quote]

Thanks for the tips. Currently DLs are penultimate rather than last, but just because I like a break between bent over DB rows and inverted rows. Maybe I should be thinking the opposite, though.

I think I’ll add chinups after my pullups, as they are easier and I can do 3 x 5 of them at least :slight_smile:

–Me

If you’re working out at home investing in some bands for assisted pull-ups is a good option. Can also use the bands for standing pullover type movements.