The problem with lat focused training isn’t just that it trains simply a fraction of what the back muscles are capable of but also that many people choose repetitive exercises that work the back in the same plane. For instance, if you look at the pullup and lat pulldown you will see two major vertical pulling exercises that while not bad to perform in the same back workout, overlook the importance of horizontal pulling if nothing else is done.
It goes beyond this however. Even when you perform the pullup, many will look at it as a high rep bodyweight exercise only. They overlook how powerful the movement can be when loaded up with additional weight as in a weighted chin up. This can become a tremendous compound exercise option and one that is capable of building a lot of back strength, size and overall gains. Additionally, getting locked in on one grip during this exercise is costing you the chance to work other areas of the back such as the teres major (which in and of itself occupies a large amount of mass above the lats) and therefore limiting the gains you will see from your workout.
Instead, you will want to be sure to mix up chins and pullups along with a foundational strength exercise for the back like the deadlift to start your workout off right. The deadlift has the ability to work many of the areas of the back all in one shot. The traps, lats, and lower back all get a heavy dose of overload on this powerhouse of a back exercise. If you load it heavy enough and refuse to sacrifice your form, this can be an enormous benefit to your overall back development.
We also have an opportunity to introduce some straight arm pushdowns with each warmup set of deadlifts. This helps to ingrain one of the most important movement patterns you will need to not only perform the deadlift but all next level back exercises.
As you make your way through the workout however you also don’t want to miss the chance to train explosively. When you train like an athlete you always want to speed up what you slow down with your heavier weight training. The barbell dead row is a perfect example of this. Perform this powerful back exercise as a follow up to the deadlift and you will find that even a heavier weight seems lighter and more able to be accelerated.
No perfect back workout would be complete without some additional focused tension towards the lats. This allows you to develop that mind muscle connection that is important for maximizing hypertrophy of the back. Choose between one of the two exercises listed and only do one of them. Just focus on really squeezing each rep and taking the lats through their full range of motion for optimum effect.
Finally, a perfect back workout will not forget the importance of corrective exercises for the back. Here we want to be sure we work both the lumbar erectors and rotator cuff. We can do both in one move using the Hyper Y/W combo shown in the video. You will not need to use heavy weights to do this. Light weights will still light you up in exactly the way you need to be for best effect.
Here is how to construct the perfect back workout:
1A. Deadlift x 10,8
1B. Weighted Chin x 4RM, 8RM
2A. Deadlift x 6,6
2B. BW Wide Grip Pullups x F,F
3. Barbell Dead Rows (12RM) – 2-3 x 8-10
4. Alternating 1 Arm High Cable Row OR Rocking Pulldown – 2-3 x 10-12
5. Hyper Y/W Combo – 2 x 14-20 (alternate Y/W each rep)
6. Barbell Ladder Shrug Finisher – 1 x F
When you put this together in the format as I’m suggesting here, you not only now hit the back through its full range of motion but you hit every function of the this multi muscle group posterior chain as well. The supersets and ladders allow for an intensification of the workout to ensure that you are creating enough overload to spark growth in these muscles.
This is just one example of how to apply science to your back workouts. If you want to train like an athlete you want to put science back in every workout you do. You can do that with the ATHLEAN-X Training Programs available at the link below and get started right away on building a ripped, muscular, athletic body.
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