Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Spinal Erector Training - Bill Mason (1972)

Vasily Kolotov

During the last year of so several photos of Soviet lifter Vasily Kolotov's back have appeared in Iron Man. With each new photo, the American weight-man fraternity has both marveled at such thick development and wondered how to attain such impressive musculature.

My first impulse was that if I could snatch 350 and clean and jerk 450, then I, too, would have such development. However, close observation of several champion lifters has shown me that they all have comparatively thick erectors, but nothing like Kolotov's. So, the obvious conclusion is that something else is needed to attain such development.

After several months of unsuccessfully experimenting with high pulls, good mornings, deadlifts and the like, United States and Pan American heavyweight champion Gary Deal returned from the World Championships. After talking with him at length, it became apparent that the Soviet team was doing a large amount of hyperextensions with heavy weights. A couple of months of experimenting with hyperextensions has given me enough proof to say that this is THE BEST exercise for super-thick erector development.


On the hyperextension bench, hang your body down at a right angle to your legs (and to the floor). Place your hands behind your neck and do a reverse situp. Don't over-arch the back at the top position. Do one set of 15-20 reps for a warmup and then start adding weight. For the first one or two workouts do just the warmup set. The easiest way to use extra weight is to hold a barbell of heavy plate behind the neck. I have gotten best results from doing 15 reps to warm up and then doing 12-10-8-6 reps with increasingly heavier poundages as the reps decrease. This workout will leave your back so fatigued that further training on almost all body parts will be difficult if not impossible. So, be sure to do the hyperextensions last in your training schedule.

One other exercise also strongly influences the erectors, particularly the middle section of the back. This is a variation of the bentover rowing motion with heavy weights. For maximum stimulation of the erectors, row with a narrow grip (hands no farther apart than six inches) and pull the bar to the bottom of the rib cage. Start each repetition from the floor and finish with a pronounced arch of the back. If you are doing this movement correctly, you will feel a slight cramping effect in the middle of your back with each repetition.

Do the rowing exercise early in your workout so you have lots of energy to devote to the movement. Most bodybuilders I know get best results from a light warmup set of 10-12 reps, followed by a heavier set of 8, and three very heavy sets of 5.

The complete erector workout I have given is 10 sets. This particular workout is for a very advanced man. Beginners would do well on one or two sets of each exercise, and intermediates should gain berst on two or three sets of each movement. 

At this stage you may be asking what good it is to have big erectors. Well, first of all, size can mean strength. And, strength can mean health and invulnerability to injury and debilitating lower back pain. Millions of Americans would be overjoyed at this prospect. If you are a bodybuilder, powerful looking erectors will often make the difference between your back poses looking good and looking great. Large erectors really round out the lower back and make it look powerfully ridged instead of flat and uninteresting. 

If you are a lifter and have to ask if big, strong erectors will help, I think you may be better off shooting pool or swimming. Erectors are where the record lifts are won or lost. Gary Deal has been doing hypers by the hundreds lately. His lower back is getting impossibly thick and his lifts are soaring.

Need I say more?

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