T Nation

Need Help With my Back Routine

Ok guys I am working out intense enough and eating enough that I am gaining weight. I am getting stronger in all lifts but am a little worried about what my back will look like in the future.
The days after I do my back workout DOMS sets in in the middle portion of my back along my spine and thats it… I feel like I will grow a massive mid back while my upper back will not grow.
Back route is as follows:

Assisted Pullups however many sets to 50 (wide grip)

Bent Over Rows 4 sets
12, 10, 8, 6 Reps

Deadlifts 3 sets
10, 6, 4

Shrugs 4 sets
12, 10, 8, 6

What I am really looking for is total back soreness. When doing bent over rows I am totally parallel to the floor and I am pulled the bar up the my upper abs. My arms are not flared out but not rubbing up against my body, kind of in between.
If you need any more info let me know. I will post as I remember more info that is relevant.

OK, two things jump out at me: (1) the volume to your upper back can be increased (2) if you want to hit your lats more, you should increase the # of sets and exercises on pullup/pulldown variations.

From there, rotate the sequencing and rep ranges of exercises workout to workout. Avoid “the routine”. Maintain the program.

Happy training.

Chest supported DB shrugs on an incline bench…

(think sitting cowgirl style straddling on an incline)

will hit the middle/upper back thickness.

[quote]ovalpline wrote:
OK, two things jump out at me: (1) the volume to your upper back can be increased.

Happy training.[/quote]

I agree 100%. I guess my problem is HOW do I hit the upper back to get those muscle to grow? I figured shrugs would get my upper back sore but I have been extremely unsuccessful with them. Not that they are a bad exercise but I think I may not be doing them correctly. Does anybody here actually get soreness in there upper back from doing shrugs or do I have unrealistic expectations from this exercise? Thanks for the response ovalpline.

[quote]GetSwole wrote:
Chest supported DB shrugs on an incline bench…

(think sitting cowgirl style straddling on an incline)

will hit the middle/upper back thickness.[/quote]

Oh wow, that sounds perfect. Thank you very much. Does anybody here have the opinion that an isolation movement like this will provide as much growth stimulus as pull ups and rows? Just want to be sure this will be enough and if not add more.

[quote]DanErickson wrote:
GetSwole wrote:
Chest supported DB shrugs on an incline bench…

(think sitting cowgirl style straddling on an incline)

will hit the middle/upper back thickness.

Oh wow, that sounds perfect. Thank you very much. Does anybody here have the opinion that an isolation movement like this will provide as much growth stimulus as pull ups and rows? Just want to be sure this will be enough and if not add more.[/quote]

It’s a fine supplement to your program, but definitely not a main movement. I wouldn’t choose them OVER pull ups and rows, but in addition is good. Once you get tired of them, upright rows on a low pulley with a triceps rope would be another you could throw in for some upper back development. They’re somewhat similar but offer enough variation to provide a new stimulus.

Keep the main movements the same, just vary them a bit from time to time.

[quote]Blongo wrote:
DanErickson wrote:
GetSwole wrote:
Chest supported DB shrugs on an incline bench…

(think sitting cowgirl style straddling on an incline)

will hit the middle/upper back thickness.

Oh wow, that sounds perfect. Thank you very much. Does anybody here have the opinion that an isolation movement like this will provide as much growth stimulus as pull ups and rows? Just want to be sure this will be enough and if not add more.

It’s a fine supplement to your program, but definitely not a main movement. I wouldn’t choose them OVER pull ups and rows, but in addition is good. Once you get tired of them, upright rows on a low pulley with a triceps rope would be another you could throw in for some upper back development. They’re somewhat similar but offer enough variation to provide a new stimulus.

Keep the main movements the same, just vary them a bit from time to time.

[/quote]
Thanks for your response. I am not sure what you mean when you say “Keep the main movements the same, just vary them a bit from time to time”.

[quote]DanErickson wrote:
Blongo wrote:
DanErickson wrote:
GetSwole wrote:
Chest supported DB shrugs on an incline bench…

(think sitting cowgirl style straddling on an incline)

will hit the middle/upper back thickness.

Oh wow, that sounds perfect. Thank you very much. Does anybody here have the opinion that an isolation movement like this will provide as much growth stimulus as pull ups and rows? Just want to be sure this will be enough and if not add more.

It’s a fine supplement to your program, but definitely not a main movement. I wouldn’t choose them OVER pull ups and rows, but in addition is good. Once you get tired of them, upright rows on a low pulley with a triceps rope would be another you could throw in for some upper back development. They’re somewhat similar but offer enough variation to provide a new stimulus.

Keep the main movements the same, just vary them a bit from time to time.

Thanks for your response. I am not sure what you mean when you say “Keep the main movements the same, just vary them a bit from time to time”.
[/quote]

I’d say it’s well worth buying Kelso’s Shrug Book, it’s not real thick, but some interesting exercises in there, all designed to thicken the back, and I think I got it for about ten bucks on Amazon.

i think i see what you’re trying to do.

bent over rows for mid back
deadlifts for lower back
and shrugs for upper back (traps)

as ovalpline mentioned, you need more volume, especially on deadlifts.

here’s something you can try

deadlift
6 x 6
hang cleans
3 x 5
yates row
4 x 8
t-bar row
3 x 12

additional note
every concentric movement should be explosive.
and your traps are gonna feel amazing in the morning

keep the main movements the same as in

Rows
Shrugs
Deadlifts
Pull ups

Vary them from time to time as in

grip
ROM
rep range

[quote]ZeusNathan wrote:
i think i see what you’re trying to do.

bent over rows for mid back
deadlifts for lower back
and shrugs for upper back (traps)

as ovalpline mentioned, you need more volume, especially on deadlifts.

here’s something you can try

deadlift
6 x 6
hang cleans
3 x 5
yates row
4 x 8
t-bar row
3 x 12

additional note
every concentric movement should be explosive.
and your traps are gonna feel amazing in the morning[/quote]

Thats almost exactly what I was going to recommend except I think involving a vertical backmotion variation would be very beneficial. Maybe switching the T-bar rows for supinated grip pull-up for lat activation. Doing some explosive pull ups after that workout with really get your lats going.

didnt mean to steal your workout tho.
cleans and deadlifts stimulate awesome back growth

damn straight, i remember first time i did some hang cleans, my traps were sore for days. nothing hits the traps like cleans.
and yea, if he wanted a better back routine, id def throw in one of my fav exercise the pull up. but he wanted a sore upper back, so now he’s gonna get it.

[quote]Blongo wrote:
keep the main movements the same as in

Rows
Shrugs
Deadlifts
Pull ups

Vary them from time to time as in

grip
ROM
rep range[/quote]

Ok, will do, thanks for your help!

[quote]ZeusNathan wrote:
damn straight, i remember first time i did some hang cleans, my traps were sore for days. nothing hits the traps like cleans.
and yea, if he wanted a better back routine, id def throw in one of my fav exercise the pull up. but he wanted a sore upper back, so now he’s gonna get it.[/quote]

I am definetly going to work the hang cleans into my routine. I tried them today and had a bit of a hard time grasping the form. I will practice these on weekends until I get it. Thanks a lot for the info.
P.S are you actually going into the full front squat when doing these? Just wondering as I don’t want to be doing legs at all on back day.

[quote]DanErickson wrote:
ZeusNathan wrote:
damn straight, i remember first time i did some hang cleans, my traps were sore for days. nothing hits the traps like cleans.
and yea, if he wanted a better back routine, id def throw in one of my fav exercise the pull up. but he wanted a sore upper back, so now he’s gonna get it.

I am definetly going to work the hang cleans into my routine. I tried them today and had a bit of a hard time grasping the form. I will practice these on weekends until I get it. Thanks a lot for the info.
P.S are you actually going into the full front squat when doing these? Just wondering as I don’t want to be doing legs at all on back day.[/quote]

you can, but you dont have to. and about the technique… the only way you’ll get maximal efficacy of this exercise is if you get the form right. i say you start at a real low weight, (just the bar) and work on it until you are comfortable enough to move up in weight. i can help you out with only one word through here, and that’s explosiveness. explode. become a fuckin nuke head when you lift that bar up.

[quote]DanErickson wrote:
P.S are you actually going into the full front squat when doing these? Just wondering as I don’t want to be doing legs at all on back day.[/quote]

going into the full front squat isnt required. I do it from time to time. If you watch some youtube videos of pro’s doing clean and jerks. you notice they throw there body under the bar and use the “front squat” to catch the heavy bar then squat it back up. It does engage the legs a lot tho. Its really up to you. If your goal is trap and back growth I would say not to and just bend your legs enough for the impact of the bar.

[quote]ZeusNathan wrote:
you can, but you dont have to. and about the technique… the only way you’ll get maximal efficacy of this exercise is if you get the form right. i say you start at a real low weight, (just the bar) and work on it until you are comfortable enough to move up in weight. i can help you out with only one word through here, and that’s explosiveness. explode. become a fuckin nuke head when you lift that bar up.

[/quote]

well said.

Yeah i would agree with these guys and say hang cleans for your upper back. I definitely noticed my traps got bigger when i added hang cleans to my routine. As far as technique goes, i was pretty poor when i first started out, you just gotta keep at it and you will get better the more you do them. Just start at a lower weight and progress as your form comes along.

you can follow this tutorial.
I generally go from the floor, but the rack version is also very beneficial.

And I am aware the instructors voice is painful. . .

[quote]schanz_05 wrote:
Yeah i would agree with these guys and say hang cleans for your upper back. I definitely noticed my traps got bigger when i added hang cleans to my routine. As far as technique goes, i was pretty poor when i first started out, you just gotta keep at it and you will get better the more you do them. Just start at a lower weight and progress as your form comes along.[/quote]

If i put Hang,Muscle or even floor cleans into my routine, i tend to put them in around traps and shoulder work, unless i am doing specific clean work.

Joe