Training

Dorian Yates' 6 Rules for Building a Big Back Fast

Dorian Yates shares his fundamental strategies for building a big back.

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Dorian Yates' 6 Rules for Building a Big Back Fast

 QUESTION 

I want to hear from the guy I consider to have the greatest back in history: What are the fundamental strategies for building a big back fast?

 ANSWER 

Nothing worth having comes quickly, but if you’re serious about building your back over the long haul, I do have some steadfast advice. I can break it down into six general rules, as follows.

#1 PRIORITIZE

Train your back alone on one day, or, at the most, with rear delts; it’s too big, and the training it requires is too strenuous, to be combined with any other bodypart. As a beginner and intermediate bodybuilder, I combined back, chest and shoulders in one workout and made good gains, but as my back got stronger, I was lifting hundreds of pounds more and therefore needed to separate bodyparts into individual workouts.

#2 TRAIN WITH INTENSITY

In earlier days, I increased the volume of sets and exercises and I grew, but my fastest rate of growth came when I learned how to generate maximum intensity, which allowed me to compress even more power into shorter workouts with fewer sets and exercises. That takes diligent concentration — for every set, train your mind to focus on summoning forth more power than you ever thought possible.

#3 CHOOSE YOUR EXERCISES WISELY

Unlike other bodyparts, the back must be worked through perpendicular planes: horizontally (front to back) and vertically (top to bottom). The most important exercises for covering the back multidimensionally are weighted reverse-grip chinups, barbell rows and deadlifts.

#4 PYRAMID THE WEIGHT FROM SET TO SET

Every set must be mentally intense. Regardless of how light each set is, concentrate on feeling your back muscles contracting, extending and building a burn. For the first set, do 10 reps. For the second set, do eight reps, but make sure the last rep taxes your strength. For the third set, go very heavy and all out, reaching failure at six reps.

#5 USE FORCED REPS

After you reach failure on your final set of each exercise, have your training partner help you with two forced reps. After those, continue with negatives or partial reps to fry every last twitch of life out of your entire range of motion.

#6 LEARN HOW TO PULL

A great back is a rarity, because it’s the hardest part of the body to reach with a resistance exercise. Simple pulling doesn’t do the job, because the force has to first pass through the arms, shoulders and lower back. What you must do is concentrate the squeeze into that portion of your back for which the exercise is intended. During chinups, feel the burn in your lats, rhomboids and upper back. When performing barbell rows, feel it in your lats and middle back. For deadlifts, feel it in your spinal erectors, lats and traps. Most of all, love that feeling.

 YATES’ BACK-TO-BASICS WORKOUT 

  • Weighted Reverse-Grip Chinups | SETS: 3 | REPS: 6-10
  • Barbell Rows SETS: 3 REPS: 6-10 
  • Deadlifts SETS: 3 REPS: 6-10 

NOTE:This is Yates’ suggested set-and-rep scheme for beginners and intermediates. Yates himself performs one working set per exercise. 

 FLEX 

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