Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Ten Back Training Tips (2002)

Far and away my favorite lifting channel of the last year . . . 

The Delray Misfits: 





Here's an article that's "written" by Ronnie Coleman. Now, if you happen to have seen the Joe Rogan interview with him, well, you'll realize he didn't author this. 
Yes. "0.33% bodyfat." "Negative bodyfat." 
And good ole Joe just sat there. 
Hahaha . . . nice! 
Rogan did an interview with Edward Snowden on Sept. 15th and managed to stay out of the way quite well. There's a book indirectly referenced that comes out at the end of this month, written by Ron Diebert of The Citizen Lab of Canada: 
"Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society." 
I am anxiously awaiting my copy in the mail. Check out The Citizen Lab here: 
Should be a good read. 
The Article: 
Ten Back Training Fundamentals 

 1) Alternate Compound and Isolation Workouts
No other bodypart is as vast and complex as the back; consequently, it needs to be trained every which way. I accomplish this by various methods, the most basic being to use two alternating workouts, one composed of power lifting and compound movements for building overall mass; the other composed of isolated bodybuilding movements to develop more localized muscle areas. 

My training cycle is six days on, one day off, hitting each bodypart every third day. That means each bodypart us trained twice a week; at the beginning of the week with the power lifting or compound movement workout, then later in the week with the workout composed of isolated bodybuilding movements. 
The most crucial element of this approach is to invest maximum intensity in each workout. You should be just as exhausted after the bodybuilding workout as you are after the power workout.
3) Freestanding Exercises
Your back is the superstructure on which the rest of the body hangs. As a result, it will share in the weight training benefits of other bodyparts if it shares in the exercise for that bodypart. My parking lot lunges are a good example. For those, I lunge back and forth across the parking lot of my gym with a 225 lb barbell on my back. Although that is a leg day exercise you can imagine what it does for my traps and my entire back, including my upper lats, rhomboids and the full length of my erectors. It's also a terrific strength builder, and the greater my back strength, the more weight I can lift for more reps, which adds to faster growth. 
Other freestanding exercises that enhance the muscularity of the back are squats, barbell curls, standing overhead French presses, upright rows, overhead presses and front barbell or dumbbell raises. Of course, the more weight you use for these, the harder your back has to work.
3) Rows
By rows, I mean any rowing motion in which you stretch your arms to the front and pull into your midsection, the purpose being to widen the lats and bring out muscular detail in the middle and upper back. My favorites are barbell rows, T-bar rows and seated pulley rows. Each provides the same general development, as well as unique benefits. 
Barbell rows are for lat width and mass, erector thickness, middle and upper back muscularity, and for massing up the lower traps. 
T-bar rows are also for lat width and mass, with emphasis on the middle and upper back muscularity. 
Seated pulley rows lower the sweep of your lats and bring out striations along both sides of your erectors.
I sue one or two of these in every back workout. All three offer varying degrees of mass-versus-isolation benefits: barbell rows for most mass, seated pulley rows for isolation, and T-bar rows for the best compromise of both. 
4) Extremely Heavy Weight
A great back is one that has the landscape of an Arizona prison rock pile with jagged fissures and peaks. That kind of back doesn't come from "surgical" bodybuilding in which you work every each muscle separately by means of tiny twitchy contractions. Your back is too complex for that. One muscle works the next, and so on. 
Ideally, you should work your back in areas, rather than aim for individual muscles, and only heavy weight can force you to do that. Your back muscles pull like a crane and a huge amount of back strength can be developed over time. Aim for greater weights but keep a full range of motion . . . always aim for more weight. 
5) Full Range of Motion
Since your back contains no levered joints, its muscle can be thoroughly stressed only by allowing your arms and shoulders to stretch them through their maximum range of motion. With other bodyparts, such as arms and legs, you will often know when you're getting a full range of motion by the pump or burn that develops in the muscle belly, but a full range of motion with your back is indicated only by a hard pull at the muscle insertions. 
For every extension, maintain tension and let the weight stretch your lats and shoulders as wide as possible. Imagine the wind beneath your wings. As you contract, pull back with your shoulders as you stick out your chest and try to scissor your lats together behind you. 

For your initial higher-rep sets use peak contractions: get an extra-hard one second squeeze with all of the muscles in the area before beginning your next extension. With deadlifts, locking out your shoulders at the top is your peak contraction.
6) Overhead Pulls
Deadlifts and rows will give you all the width and thickness you want, but the only way to bring out the density and separations of the individual teres, spinatus, rhomboid and lower trapezius muscles in the upper-middle back is by pulling from overhead. 
Deadlifts and rows move the lats from front to back, whereas overhead pulls rotate the lats downward and inward against each other through the same plane, as if they are two grinding wheels, edge to edge, crushing all those minor back muscles between them. 
The best exercises for this motion are machine pulldowns cable pulldowns, and wide-grip chins or pullups. To emphasize the width of your upper lats and the muscularity of your middle back use front pulldowns or pullups. To thicken the lower triangle of yur traps and separate your rhomboids, teres and spinatus muscles, pull as low as you can behind your neck. 
7) Failure Plus

I've never believed in going to failure, because the subconscious will always find a way to "fail" too early. Here's what I do to keep myself from wimping out: I use, as my goal for the set, the maximum number of reps I've ever been able to attain with that weight. My first commitment, then, is to make sure I do not fail until I've done at least that many repetitions. 

However, I have a second commitment: to try to push past my failure number. It's a mind game I play on my body, and it forces me to constantly strive to raise my training plateau. Eventually I can do more reps for a certain exercise and then I adjust the weight upward. As a motivational tool I've found none better. Not only do I hit an intensity high as I reach my numerical goal, but when I pass it my self-esteem soars to a new high as well.

Most importantly, I've worked the muscle harder than I ever thought I could, and I can now rest in the knowledge that my growth will be more than I had hoped. 

8) Deadlifts

I've said it before and I'll say it again: from the first day I grabbed a barbell in my early teens through the days I was competing as a powerlifter in high school to now, deadlifts have been the anchor exercise of my back workouts. I've always done them. 
No matter what, or how many other exercises you do, you cannot acquire a great back without them. Deadlifts are the only exercise requiring the combined strength of every muscle in your back, thereby distributing size and thickness over the entire area in the most natural and perfect proportions. From beginning to end, the deadlift hits everything, at one point or another. 
The initial lift at the bottom thickens your erectors and pulls your lats low into your sides; the middle arc thickens and widens your lats; and the lockout at the top works you traps hard. 
9) Change
Because of your back's complexity and size, it needs to be hit with every conceivable combination of stresses, to make sure no muscle is neglected. That's the purpose behind my alternate compound and isolation workouts. I keep even those in a state of constant flux. No consecutive workouts are ever the same. 
Even if I use the same exercises, their order will change. This does not mean that I don't have favorites. Deadlifts, barbell rows, T-bar rows, seated pulley rows and front pulldowns are constants in my workouts. All of these except deadlifts can be found in either, or even both of my compound and isolation workouts. Many other exercises are rarities, but I nonetheless get around to them eventually. No single workout satisfies all the requirements for developing back muscles individually or integrally, so I keep experimenting. 
10) Never Let Up
There's no such thing as pre-contest training and no such thing as a "light" day for me. Every workout, whether compound or isolated, gets my full impassioned fury, and I never do less in a workout than I did in the workout that preceded it. 
I am always trying to increase my weights and/or reps. I may do an extremely heavy deadlift single in one workout, but that doesn't mean I won't work just as hard for 12 reps of pulley rows in the next workout. 
You must believe that every rep, if performed to the maximum of your capability, build muscle - and the more resistance it provides, the more muscle and strength it builds.  

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