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“Your core has to be strong to make a lot of improvement in the back and legs,” Correa says. Powerlifting provided that core, a foundation and base for Correa to build upon. “Powerlifting is a very different sport from bodybuilding—the routines, the diets, the cardio—but because I have that foundation I know how to show some sensibility and not hurt my body.
“Basic exercises like deadlifts are really important, although it is essential to remember the aesthetic goal.” To that end, Correa focuses on contracting his scapulas back to target his inner, upper back. “It’s not enough to just pull—you have to establish a mind-muscle connection.”
Correa believes rowing exercises are the best for building back thickness, and for working the upper and lower back. T-bar rows, Hammer Strength high and low rows, one-arm dumbbell rows, and seated machine and cable rows have all played a role in adding 3-D topography to his back.
HAMMER STRENGTH MACHINE ROW
Correa frequently changes his grip on all his rowing exercises. He might use an underhand grip for one workout and then switch to a parallel or overhand grip the next. He does this because it changes the angle at which the exercise hits the muscle. “I’m always alternating between grips to work specific areas of my back and increase the thickness,” he says.
Correa performs dumbbell rows one arm at a time, keeping his free hand on the weight rack for stabilization. Wrist straps are optional, depending on how he feels. He starts with the dumbbell on the floor. “It hits the tie-ins from the back to the arms.”
Since severing his triceps tendon before the 2014 Olympia, Correa places even more emphasis on stretching, warming up, and finding smarter ways to train and recover. “You have to listen to your body,” he explains, “so you know when to push and when to back off.”
SEATED MACHINE ROW
Correa performed seated machine and cable rows toward the end of this workout, but he switches the exercises in his workout and their order on a regular basis. His reps vary depending on the exercise, with Correa rarely doing less than 10 reps—and he sometimes will go as high as 20 in a final set.
SEATED CABLE ROW
The most striking part of Correa’s back routine is the variety of ways he works his muscles. Although he professes not to be worried about weight, volume is definitely part of his workout focus. In this routine, he does nine exercises for his wide and detailed back, attacking it from every direction.
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Correa has never been worried about hefting the heaviest weights. “Don’t worry about the amount of weight,” Correa says, his arms over his head, his biceps nearly brushing his ears as he pulls at the handle. “Keep the focus on getting a full stretch and contraction. Strength will increase in time.”
Correa likes to do this one with a reverse grip as well, and he also does a reverse-grip one-arm variation using a handle instead of a bar. Whatever the variation, with a little sway of body momentum he pulls down until his arms form right angles, about mid-chest. “You have to consciously think about the muscles or areas of muscles you want to target when you do each exercise. Forget about the weight’s movement. Focus on the tension.”
CORREA’S WIDE, THICK, HANGING LATS ARE THE PRODUCT OF A STRONG MIND-TO-MUSCLE CONNECTION.
CORREA'S TRAINING SPLIT
CORREA'S BACK ROUTINE