Rows, pulldowns and chins — these exercises comprise the nuts and bolts of any solid back training routine. These multi-joint moves help to add width and depth to your back and are perfect for the guy looking to add mass to his lats. But diligent trainers quickly learn that what worked last year may not work this year. It's called a plateau, and no matter how hard you're training, if you're not mixing up your workouts and demanding more of your targeted muscles, your gains are going to stall out like a motorcycle with a bum clutch.
This routine — a favorite of Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS, Fitness Director for M&F — is sure to provide the jolt you need to get your growth back on track. With this assortment of strength-based exercises, your back is forced to remember what it was like to get sore.
"This routine is simple, but brutal," Pena says. "You can use this as a substitute for your back routine this week to shock your lats, or you can make it your regular routine for a month to see how it works for you. This is for seasoned gym rats only — the heavy nature of this routine can leave inexperienced lifters open to injury."
Giant sets — the execution of several exercises in successive fashion — are employed in this shock routine. Within each giant set, you should only rest as long as it takes to get set up for the next exercise. After each set, you can rest 2-3 minutes. After a 5-10-minute general warm-up, perform 2-3 light sets of deadlifts using just the bar. From there, you'll dive right into your heaviest giant set, aiming to complete six reps on each exercise. Each of your following sets, you can lower the weight, striving to complete 10, 12 and 15 reps.
Have fun, and don't forget your straps!
Exercise Sets Reps Giant set 4 6, 10, 12, 15 Deadlift 4 6, 10, 12, 15 Rack pull 4 6, 10, 12, 15 Shrug 4 6, 10, 12, 15 Farmers walk 4 50 steps * Seated row --^ 30 Lat pulldown --^ 30 Close-grip pull-up 2 To failure Good morning 3 12-20
* Grab a heavy set of dumbbells, take 50 steps, making sure to keep your chest high and shoulders back. After 50 steps, turn and continue striding until failure.
^ Perform these rest-pause style using your 5RM. Complete 2-3 reps, then rest 10-15 seconds before diving back in. Repeat until you reach 30 reps.