Monday, May 30, 2022

Back Training - Vic Richards (1989)


When I was 16, every day I'd pass a bunch of guys working out in a garage gym. They'd tease me about joining them for a workout. I really didn't know what bodybuilding was then. The only weight training I'd done was an occasionally workout with the football team. But I started dabbling at this garage gym anyway.

16 Years Old

My dabbling gradually became a regular habit, but at times I'd disappear from the gym for a month at a time. After I'd trained six months, my friends, telling me how much potential I had persuaded me to compete in my first show. It was the Teenage America Cup. I was 17 and ended up placing second to 19-year old Rich Gaspari.  

That was seven years ago. Training has become one of the most important things in my life. I need to train in order to be me. The challenge of perfecting my physique is not only a physical quest, but a mental and spiritual one as well. I've come to demand perfection, which by my definition means being satisfied with yourself. I'm still on my way. Like they say, "Drink no wine before its time." 

My Back Workout

I train by instinct. Every one of my workouts is guided by how I feel at a given time in the gym. I don't usually count reps, but instead go by how the muscle feels. I believe in using heavy weights with proper form. The workout I describe below is typical, but I don't always follow this pattern. Sometimes I'll go into the gym and do the same exercise for two hours if it feels good to me. I go into a workout with a general idea, but once I'm in the gym I let my body tell me the rest. You have to become your own expert. 

Pulldowns Behind Neck

I often begin my back workout with pulldowns behind the neck for 10-15 sets. I increase the weight each set until I feel that I'm about half or three-quarters of the way done, and then decrease the weight for the remaining sets. I treat each set separately; and do anywhere from 6-15 repetitions. I also like to move the weight at different speeds, sometimes very slowly and sometimes very explosively, because it gives me a different feel. Getting a good stretch at the top and a full contraction at the bottom is important. I try to keep my back slightly arched and pull the weight down with my lats. I call my traps and rear deltoids into play near the bottom position.

Pulldowns to the Front

The pulldown to the front is one of my favorite back exercises. This exercise allows me the flexibility to vary my grip from wide to narrow, using a V-type handle and a standard pulldown bar. This lets me pull either to my navel or to my chest, which works different areas of my back. I do 10-12 sets, mixing grip positions and repetitions, once again in the 6-15 range. Don't lean back or rock too much because that will take the stress off the lats, even if you use a heavier weight. 

Seated Cable Rows

The most important thing to remember about any type of rowing is to use proper form and avoid putting too much stress on your lower back. Concentration is the key to preventing injury. That means no bouncing and having complete control of the weight at all times. Sure you should use a complete range of motion and use a weight that forces you to contract the muscle very hard, but never let your workouts be overinfluenced by ego. As you pull the weight up think about arching your low back and bringing your chest out. I vary my sets, but they can go as high as 10-15 once I start varying grip positions. 

One Arm Dumbbell Rows

I like the one arm dumbbell row because it allows me to use heavy weights with less chance of back injury. Even so, proper lifting technique must prevail. This exercise works the lower lats as well as the traps and rear deltoids, depending on where you pull the dumbbell up to. About 6 hard sets here do the job, with the usual wide variety of repetitions and speed of movement. On a rare occasion I'll substitute (or add) T-bar rows, but I do them sparingly because generally I like to avoid anything that could cause injury.     


My eating habits are based on the same basic principle that I apply to my training -- instinct. In a nutshell, my diet is high in complex carbohydrates, moderate in protein and low in fats. I don't anything for at least two hours before I train. 

I generally eat five or six times a day, but sometimes I'll eat as often as 10 times or as little as one or two depending on how I feel. After my morning workout I'll prepare a a large pot of rice (about two pounds) with about 25 egg whites. I'll eat my fill at about 10 a.m. and then have another portion at about 2 or so. I may eat some fruit or something very light after that, but generally I'll wait to eat more until  after my afternoon training. In the evening, after training I'll usually eat fish and more rice or a yam, followed by some fruit and oatmeal later in the evening. I don't eat junk food or sweets because I don't like them. In fact, even orange juice is too sweet for my taste. 

Vic Richards Back Workout

Pulldown Behind the Neck, 10-15 x 6-15 reps
Pulldown to the Front, 10-12 x 6-15
Seated Cable Row, 10-12 x 6-15
One Arm DB Row, 6 x 6-15
T-Bar Row, 6 x 6-15

Enjoy Your Lifting! 



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