Thursday, January 12, 2012

Back - Week 2

This week’s workout: back

This workout will be great for anyone who wants to strengthen their back as well as add size and tone.  
When I think about writing out a back workout I take each person into consideration and try to align proper exercises as per their imbalances.  In the beginning when I first start training a client rows are almost always the most difficult exercise to have done properly due to excessive forward shoulders.  Usually the first attempt at a row is drawn so much from the trap it is almost a waste of time.  I slowly work folks into their back exercises as they work to open themselves up daily through foam rolling of the traps and lats as well as stretching for the back and chest.  In addition, wall slides, bar rotations and standing cobras are done daily to work towards improving the range of motion. 
After a client has proven improvement on posture then and only then can we really see gains in their back. 

When you think about what pulls you in a chin-up you have to consider what can hold you back as well. Yes your lats and biceps as well as shoulders are doing the movement, but with forward shoulders your traps dominate the exercise and you try to draw form the wrong muscles.  This leads to less strength because the traps are a much smaller muscle than the lat.  If you cannot pull with your shoulders back and your chest high than you are not fully pulling with the lat.  If your strength on pulls and chin-ups are weak, pay attention to your alignment.  Have someone record you as you do your pull ups.  See if you lead with your chin and your chest or if you round your shoulders and try to draw from the wrong muscles.  Your V taper will never show with forward shoulders.  Those lats will be hidden forever and your rear delt will become almost obsolete. 
The rear delt and rhomboid are the anchors of which hold our posture into place.  Once we get our traps into a relaxed state over time and are not dominating with them on a regular basis then and only then can we finally start developing the mid back properly.  Rear delt flies, high rows and mid back pulls are super important however worthless with forward shoulders, so until you change your alignment your efforts will go unrewarded. 
The moral of the story is..... foam roll, stretch and tend to your flexibility. 

Plan for growth, strength gains and pain free workouts.  I like to switch grips on a lot of my clients back movements in order to increase separation or improve thickness.  I kneel and use the chains to isolate pull downs with wrist rotation to improve separation between the shoulder and the bicep.  This move is also great for a real thick feeling pull.  I also use the smaller handled lat pull bar.  This reverse grip as you pull also draws more separation in the same location and still leaves you with that thick feeling while actually working the width of your back.  In addition some exercises can be changed dramatically just by adjusting the hand grip.  I go wide on the Hammer Strength High Row in order to get a wider, thicker movement.
Always work your back. Never neglect it.  Never over train the chest and under train the back.  Make flexibility a priority for yourself today and watch your body change on a weekly basis.  I see it happen with my clients every week. 

Try a few of these 8 exercises for your next back workout!

1 Alternate Wide and Narrow Grip Chin ups

2 Wide Handled Pull Down

3 Kneeling Chain Pull Down

Hammer Strength High Row Wide Grip

Back Extension with Dumbbell High Row

6 Seated Cable Row with wide handle (pull all the way to your torso and have elbows completely at your side)

Single Arm Dumbbell Row

Rear Delt Fly Kneeling on bench with your chest on the pad

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