Here is a back workout for encouraging improvements to lagging backs recommended by six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates, who was ranked as having the second-best back in bodybuilding history in the March 2008 FLEX.

April 25, 2008

Written by FLEX Staff

The back is the biggest and most powerful muscle group of the upper body. It is better to focus on the interaction of all the muscles in the back, rather than trying to compartmentalize and develop the largest muscles (upper lats, rhomboids, lower lats, trapezius and teres major) separately. Think of the back as one whole unit when you train, instead of breaking it down into its individual parts.

Technique is the single most important element of a successful program. Get a full stretch and contraction for every exercise. Growth and stimulation require a squeeze during the contraction. You must arch your spine when pulling the weight to achieve a full contraction. This comes into play for dumbbell rows by using muscular strength with an arched back to contract the lats at the top instead of relying on momentum.

Start with curl-grip pulldowns. A curl grip places the hands under the bar or handle (like you would hold the weight when doing curls) instead of over the handle. This will allow you to get your elbows farther back at the midpoint to ensure a complete stretch and contraction. Grip the overhead bar with an underhand grip, and bend your elbows slightly. Arch your spine and slightly lean backward, pulling the bar toward you until you get a complete contraction. Pause to squeeze with the bar just below your chin, before returning the load in a slow and controlled manner.

The pulldowns are followed by barbell rows. Focus on pulling with your lats. Bending your torso so that it is at a 70-degree angle to the floor instead of the conventional 45 degrees can facilitate this.

Seated cable rows will thicken the teres major and rhomboid muscles. Keep your elbows out, use a wide overhand grip on the bar and pull it to your lower chest.

Finish with deadlifts or hyperextensions for the spinal erectors. This workout should be done every six days; the single working set for each exercise should be to failure in the eight- to 10-rep range. FLEX.

Discuss this workout with other bodybuilders.

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