Training

How Charles Dixon Built One of Bodybuilding's Widest Backs

The Tank's tips for building thickness and mass over 40.

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BACK BURNER

Tank begins every back workout with eight sets of width exercises—pullups and pulldowns. The former is done with “only” his body weight, which climbs to more than 240 in the off-season. “I like these to warm up my lats,” he says. “Usually I do them with a wide grip for four sets. But sometimes I bring my hands in close. And sometimes I superset and do a set of wide and then a set of close-grip right after that.”

Too many bodybuilders turn pulldowns into virtual (and sloppy) rows by leaning back too much and jerking the weight down, using their lower back and momentum to move more metal. Both to isolate his outer lats and to avoid injuries, Dixon performs his pulldowns strictly, remaining in an upright position from stretch to contraction on every rep. “I try to pull to chin level,” he states. “I try to feel where the tension is the greatest at the bottom and hold that for a second. That chin area is my sweet spot.”

His third exercise is a cable row. Two things make this exercise unique. First, he prefers to use a rope. Second, he does them standing with the rope attached to a low cable. As with his strict pulldown form, standing up limits how much he can sway. When you do seated cable rows, it’s easy to lean forward at stretches and backward at contractions to let momentum and lower-back action do much of the work. Standing with his knees slightly bent, Tank moves only his arms. Additionally, the rope lets him squeeze stronger contraction than other handles, because he can pull the ends to either side of his hips.

 

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