Anyone, who has ever worked out would have dreamed about sculpting a stronger and bigger back. The muscled back holds a key to developing an aesthetically balanced and pleasing physique. And, even if you aren’t too interested in physical aesthetics (which I heavily doubt), the benefits of building a strong back are far too many to ignore it in the gym. The muscles in your back serve several important purposes ranging from maintaining good posture to carrying heavy objects around your home. Additionally, training your back will also assist in reducing back pain, improving overall strength and would help in maintaining the proper form during your workouts.
Due to the complex muscular anatomy, the back training can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you are trying to isolate individual muscles. Also, due to the fact that biceps play an important role in all back exercises, it is easy to delegate all the work to them and reduce back muscles to an assisting role. If you aren’t getting the right results from your back training, then in all probability, you are getting the basics wrong. The most common mistake is that you are getting the exercise form wrong or are trying to lift heavier weight than you can lift with right form. Here, are some tips that will help you get the most out of your back workout and will help build a stronger and bigger back.
This is the basic and most important thing. You have to ensure that you squeeze your back muscles on every rep of every set of every back workout. This is also the most important reason behind your lack of success in building a better back. If you aren’t squeezing the concerned muscle at the top of the movement, then you aren’t working it to the failure. Hold the contracted position of each back exercise for a second and if you don’t feel your muscle working, then you are doing the exercise wrong.
If you are doing pulldowns, hold the bar at your chest and pull your elbows back and down, to hold the position. And, if you are doing rows (whether cable or barbell), pull the bar or pulley handle to your midsection and hold it there by pulling your shoulder blades together as hard as you can. Congratulations, you have learned an important thing about back training. Incorporate it in the workout and you will be training better than the most.
Your brain is the most important muscle in your body. In order to get the best possible results, you have to train it and engage it as much as possible. And, visualization is most convenient way to engage it. Visualization is especially important in training of body parts that you can’t see. You can’t see your back muscles moving, so you have to imagine it working instead. Before you start your workout, visualize all the exercises that you will have to do during the workout. Visualize that you are working your back and imagine how you will look from the back. Imagine as if you are standing right behind yourself.
Watch as your back muscles contract in your mind. And, when you do the actual workout, try to replicate this feeling. This visualization or imagination can work during the workout as well. For example, when you are doing pulldown exercise, with every rep, try to see the back working as you pull the rod down. This way you can feel your back muscles working to the fullest. And, only by feeling your muscles working, you can workout in the best possible way and maximize your bodybuilding gains.
Lift lighter weight
Yes, lifting heavier weight is important. It makes you stronger and bigger. And, then there is ego involved. Every bodybuilder has an ego. Some believe that until you aren’t lifting the heaviest possible weight, you aren’t doing a proper workout. But, this approach can kill the workout. Though, you will have your ego puffed up by the end of the workout, but the effectiveness of the routine would have been completely ruined. Therefore, it is very important that while doing a back workout, or any other workout, only use a weight that you can easily handle.
If you are swinging your whole body to do a rep of any back exercise, it is a surety that you are loading more weight than you can actually handle. If your back is rounded while doing row or any back lifts, then lower the weight. You have to give your full effort for the workout. But that doesn’t mean, you have to throw your body into every single lift.
Lifting too heavy weight is not only bad for the efficiency of the workout, but it is also a bad news for your health as well. For example, doing too heavy lifts with a rounded back can lead to lifelong back injuries and problems.
Pre-exhausting has been around for a long time and is excellent for working muscles that you are having hard time in feeling. The thing is, when you work your back, you are using big exercises such as rows and pull-ups. And, in such compound exercises that engages so many muscles at the same time, it is very hard to train and isolate specific muscle group. To remedy this problem, add an isolation exercise for high reps before a compound exercise. Trust me, you will have easier time feeling your back muscles during those big compound exercises.
One great isolation exercise that you do for your back is straight arm pulldowns. Set the cable position at the highest point and grab the bar with a palms down grip. Keep your arms straight and pull the bar all the way to your thighs. When you reach the bottom position near your thighs, squeeze your lats. Do around 12 to 15 reps of this exercise and then do a compound exercise. You will feel your muscles working like never before.
Make your arms stronger
The arms are very heavily engaged during most of the back exercises. The forearms and biceps strength plays a key role in efficiency of various movements. However, the problem is that your forearms and biceps are lot weaker than your back muscles. The forearms strength is especially important if you are to do as many reps as needed to fatigue your back muscles. Improve your grip and add grip training exercises to your arms workout. By developing a strong grip, you will be able to hold onto the bar for a longer time. When you have improved your grip, you will notice a huge difference while doing rows and pullups.
Those who are wondering about what should be there in a back workout can take a look at this sample routine. This video shows the back workout used by the influential and famous bodybuilder Kai Greene. Greene has finished as a runner up at the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Mr. Olympia competition.