Monday, September 3, 2018

Platz Back Training

Thanks Again, Liam! 

Barn Door, Baby

As always, the first step is a mental one. I tried to approach back training just as if I were training legs, to develop the same kind of mental attitude and to use many of the same training techniques.

The Split 

Day 1: Back | Rear Delts | Traps
Day 2: Chest | Front and Side Delts | Calves
Day 3: Arms
Day 4: Thighs | Calves

Use some extended sets in training back, also frequently hold contractions for a few seconds. Train strictly instead of just throwing the weights around; isolate the back muscles and force them to work through a complete range of motion with a lot of stretching on each rep. Devote as much time to back training as you find is required; don't just slavishly follow certain number recommended sets and reps.

Some days I would take up to three hours to train back. I've tried pretty much every back exercise devised and over time instinctively settled on the ones that give me the best results. You should do the same. My go-to exercises are behind-the-neck chins, "special" chins, T-bar row, bentover barbell rows, dumbbell pullovers, and deadlifts.

I do chins with a wide grip. Also I'm a firm believer in using straps.

I use extended sets on chins, doing full reps using only bodyweight for as many reps as possible, then when too tired for full reps I do half reps, then quarter reps, and finally I just hang from the bar, still trying to keep the back muscles contracted.

For variation I sometimes do wide grip chins to the front, but only occasionally as I feel that chins behind the neck work better for me. You have to find out which are better for you.

I have a chin thing I believe I invented. "Special" chins. After I get to the point of total exhaustion on a set of chins, I hang at the bottom and 'push' instead of pull (think 'hanging pulldown'). It's as if I'm trying to lift myself up until my arms are straight out in front of me. Of course, you can't really lift yourself up this way, but it puts a tremendous strain on the whole back. It's almost like a gymnast working the rings. So, you're completely exhausted from a set of chins. You hang from the bar, and push as hard as you can in something similar to a 'pullover' fashion. It's much easier to understand once you try it a few times.

Next I do T-bar rows. I do this one very, very slowly, unlike a lot of lifters who load up the bar with a ton of plates and get it up any old way. Raise the bar deliberately, hold it at the top, lower it slowly, and get a full complete stretch at the bottom. Slow continuous movement, a held contraction, and a full range of motion works for me on this exercise.

I use straps for my next exercise, Seated Cable Rows. I like to cock my wrist slightly, turn my hands in, so I can keep the biceps out of the movement as much as possible. I'm careful to pull the handles towards my stomach rather than my chest. That seems to enable me to use my lats more and my arms less. I also do extended set on these and work to full exhaustion. Down to half reps, and finally to the point where I am barely able to flex the lats at all. It's important to get a full stretch on these (without allowing the lower back to collapse), then come upright and jam those shoulders back all the way, squeezing them as if you were trying to mash a potato between the shoulder blades. If the weight is too heavy to allow you to get this strict, full movement you're just kidding yourself and you should be using lighter weights.

Bentover Rows give me more trouble than any other exercise! I have never really found the right groove in this one. It's a real problem for me, although I make my best effort to get that groove and feel down. I have a lot of trouble feeling this movement, and I lose the feel easily. So I do it occasionally, sometimes more than occasionally, sometimes not at all for several workouts, depending on how it goes.

Now, Dumbbell Pullovers. I have no such problem at all with these! To execute the movement, raise an adjustable height bench as high as possible. Lye supine across it, and use the heaviest dumbbell you can handle.

The stretch is the most important part of pullovers. I lower the dumbbell as far as I possibly can. When I am too exhausted to do any more reps I just let the dumbbell hang and pull on by lats and ribcage. I sometimes get a training partner to gently push down on the weight to create even more of a stretch. When you do pullovers this way there's no doubt you can feel it!

Be careful about copying my approach to this exercise. I've spent a long time stretching out my body and am used to this kind of stress. Don't just jump in and try the same thing without preconditioning yourself . . . it's easy to get hurt that way.

I finish my back training with regular deadlifts. I believe they are one of the best exercises for overall strength and thickness. For my Olympia training I went up to around 600 for three or four reps. Some days I felt more like doing high reps -- so I would put about 405 on the bar and do around 20 reps without stopping.


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