T Nation

Critique My Back Workout

This has been inspired and tailored based on CT’s principles and training tips.

Bent Over Rows
ramping to 3-2 rep max (aim for 6 sets)

Kayak Rows
6 reps each side; 4 sets

SGHP
3-6 reps; 3-4 sets

Wide-Grip Cable Row
8-10 reps; 3 sets

I’m trying to keep the volume at a reasonable level, so I’m sticking with just 4 movements. Also, I perform Deadlift layers 4 days after this workout, to hit the back for a total of 2 times per week.

I placed SGHP in there because I am utterly curious as to all the hype! It seems to be just what I need to help spark some new growth in my upper back (one of my recent goals). I figure until I get used to the movement I should keep reps higher w/ lighter weights until I can venture into heavy 3-rep sets.

I’m open to your critiques!

any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Put the high pull first. Either as an activation lift or ramp to that instead.

I personally would never ramp the bent over row. It’s so easy to cheat. I’d make it the 2nd movement for a more 5x5 approach.

Here, lemme just write you exactly what I’d do.

  1. Snatch-Grip High Pull from blocks - ramp to 1-3 rep max

  2. Deadstart Barbell Rows - I’d go for a strict 5-8 reps

IF LATS ARE LAGGING: SUPERSET
3a) Kayak Row - 6-8 reps a side
3b) Wide-Grip Cable Row - 6-12 reps

Great, thank you. I hear you on the BB Row, so I’ll definitely be changing that around. You mentioned a 5x5 approach, would you recommend I keep that movement at 5 sets or possibly 4? I have never done SGHP before and don’t know how taxed my body will be afterward to perform the rest of these movements.

[quote]MikeMezz wrote:
Great, thank you. I hear you on the BB Row, so I’ll definitely be changing that around. You mentioned a 5x5 approach, would you recommend I keep that movement at 5 sets or possibly 4? I have never done SGHP before and don’t know how taxed my body will be afterward to perform the rest of these movements. [/quote]

Until you really hammer the technique, just make the high pull more of an activation movement for now.

I’d think of the barbell row as a definite “strength” lift, but just be aware of how your form may break down with heavier weights.

During the workout, if you decide to do that order, I would keep these terms in mind (and everything associated with them of course):
High Pull - Performance - 1-4 reps
Barbell Row - Strength - 5-10 reps
Kayak Row/Cable Row - Hypertrophy - 7-15 reps

Basically, you’ll have a main focus with each lift. It blends well because of the changing reps/sets.

The progression you asked about regarding the row, I’d just keep it simple and first try for 3 sets of 5. Then next workout, as long as you can keep good form and feel the right muscles working, add another rep, another set, or both.

Let me know how it goes!

Colby

Two days ago I performed this workout, and boy did it feel great! Those high pulls really attacked my traps and upper back in ways not even the deadlift has–loving them. As such, I ramped to 2 reps, I tried to keep it just to 6 sets. Didn’t get much weight up but my body definitely had to adapt to the new stimulus, it seemed.

You broke down the movements similarly to how I did in my mind, what with the strength focus versus hypertrophy (and of course performance). I performed 4 sets of BB row (or it might have been 5, I can’t recall at the moment). I kept the reps at a strict 5-8, forcing myself to break the habit of body english. As such, I didn’t get to my 185, haha, but it felt better. The kayak row and cable row I performed separately (4 sets kayak 2 sets cable rows; the latter I kept at a higher rep range than any of the other movements). Overall, it went pretty well, and I ended with 3 total minutes of weighted carries (farmer’s walks and overhead carries).

Help me understand the notion of activation, however. During this time of learning the movement, do I push myself with ramping the weight up or should I keep the intensity on the “lower” side?

[quote]MikeMezz wrote:
Two days ago I performed this workout, and boy did it feel great! Those high pulls really attacked my traps and upper back in ways not even the deadlift has–loving them. As such, I ramped to 2 reps, I tried to keep it just to 6 sets. Didn’t get much weight up but my body definitely had to adapt to the new stimulus, it seemed.

You broke down the movements similarly to how I did in my mind, what with the strength focus versus hypertrophy (and of course performance). I performed 4 sets of BB row (or it might have been 5, I can’t recall at the moment). I kept the reps at a strict 5-8, forcing myself to break the habit of body english. As such, I didn’t get to my 185, haha, but it felt better. The kayak row and cable row I performed separately (4 sets kayak 2 sets cable rows; the latter I kept at a higher rep range than any of the other movements). Overall, it went pretty well, and I ended with 3 total minutes of weighted carries (farmer’s walks and overhead carries).

Help me understand the notion of activation, however. During this time of learning the movement, do I push myself with ramping the weight up or should I keep the intensity on the “lower” side?[/quote]

That sounds awesome, man!

As far as activation goes: the reps should “pop”. Meaning that they should not only be powerful but also fast. They should make you feel like the baddest guy in the gym afterwards.

Yeah I definitely keep rows at a moderate. This allows me to focus on getting the best contraction on my mid traps (really retracting the scapula).

Noted. Regarding Kayak Rows, do you notice your triceps getting a pump? It might have been my triceps, or my rear delts. . . the areas closest to my arm pits were getting pretty fatigued and pumped. I tried correcting this by allowing no bend in my arms, but this didn’t make the biggest difference. I’ll keep searching for an answer myself, but I was wondering if you’ve had any experience like this with kayak rows.

Thanks again for the help, bud–it’s greatly appreciated!

[quote]MikeMezz wrote:
Regarding Kayak Rows, do you notice your triceps getting a pump? It might have been my triceps, or my rear delts. . . I was wondering if you’ve had any experience like this with kayak rows.
[/quote]

Yes, I do too. I’m not sure this can be completely avoided since the long head of the triceps crosses the shoulder joint and assists in shoulder extension, as does the rear deltoid.

I try to use a fairly light weight and REALLY intentionally squeeze the lats at the end of ROM, almost to the point the muscle spasms or cramps, as I believe CT has suggested doing many times. At the fully contracted position I probably tend to force the scapula down too, mimicking the end ROM of a Pulldown. Maybe someone can suggest other or better ways to to minimize the contribution of the triceps, but those have worked OK for me, at least according to my perception. But it’s just biomechanics that if you move your arm against resistance from head-level to waist-level, the triceps IS going to do some of the work. This is why you’re still working the triceps when you do Pullovers or “cheat” on Lying Triceps Extensions (“Skull-Crushers”) by moving the elbows forward and turning it into a sort of Pullover.

EDIT:
(Maybe it’s obvious) ~I forgot to say also to keep the arm just slightly bent to minimize triceps involvement. It’s tempting to finish the final reps by fully straightening the working arm, obviously resulting in a greater contribution by the triceps.