Build a Back of Legendary Proportions

The back routine that's helping Nathan DeAsha move up the IFBB ranks.


On the Hammer Strength machine, he’ll grab the handles with a palms-facing-in grip and brace himself in the apparatus with his other hand. The key is to generate the muscular contraction in the lats and midback as you pull the handle toward your body, bending the elbow fully and bringing it back as far as possible without contorting your torso. On the last set, he’s aiming for 10, with help from Winklaar if he starts to fail too early, and holding the bottom of each rep for a one- to two-second squeeze. 

The seated cable or dumbbell rows follow the same pattern—a steady cadence though the positive and negative phases, with a one- to two-second pause at the peak of the contraction. “I’ll do some exercises explosively, like pullovers or T-bar rows, but otherwise I do most back exercises with a more controlled lift,” De Asha says. 

A Hammer Strength wide row is next on the agenda. De Asha sits in the machine, reaches up, and grasps the handles with an underhand grip, with his chest firmly on the support pad. He starts with a deep breath in, then exhales as he pulls the handles down toward his midflank. “I feel a great squeeze on this, so I take advantage and go heavy,” he says.

Finally, he’ll choose among a seated cable row, a machine row, a straight-arm pulldown, or a similar move—“based on what I think I need most,” De Asha says—and finish with four sets of reverse pec-deck flyes to target the rear delts. On those, he suggests going light enough that the rear delts take on the brunt of the work. “The heavier you go, the more likely that other muscles of your back are taking over,” he says. “You want control on this one.” 

 Nathan de Asha’S BACK ROUTINE 


  • Hyperextension* | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10-15
  • Deadlift | SETS: 4-5 | REPS: 8-10


  • Pullup | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12–15
  • Pulldown | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10-15
  • One-Arm Hammer Strength Pulldown | SETS: 4 | REPS: 10-15
  • Single–Arm Seated Cable Row | SETS: 3 | REPS: 12-15
    • or One-Arm Dumbbell Row | SETS: 3 | REPS: 12-15
  • Hammer Strength Wide Row | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12
  • Machine Row | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12
  • Standing Straight-Arm Pulldown | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12
  • Reverse Pec-Deck Flye | SETS: 4 | REPS: 12

*Dropset on the last set.


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