Shoulder and Back Attack

Bill Wilmore's routine for major size and thickness.



For sheer size, Wilmore says there’s nothing better than free weights: “With free weights, you have to balance everything yourself, so you end up using more muscles. Basically, with one freeweight movement — such as T-bar rows, one-arm dumbbell rows or military presses — you’re working the target muscle, plus a lot of stabilizers. The result is more all-around size because of the greater workload.”

Wilmore’s back training focuses mainly on movements for thickness, since he feels he has more than enough width at this point. “Early in my training, I did plenty of chins and wide-grip lat pulldowns,” Wilmore remembers. “I still do those movements, but they take second billing to free-weight rowing exercises. The more mass and thickness you have in your back, the deeper the separation and detail once you diet down. That adds a three-dimensional quality to it.”


  • Lat Pulldowns | SETS3 | REPS: 8-15
  • Barbell Rows | SETS3 | REPS: 8-15 
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Rows | SETS3  | REPS: 8-15 
  • T-Bar Rows | SETS3 | REPS: 8-15
  • Seated Pulley Rows | SETS3 | REPS: 8-15 
  • Straight-Arm Cable Pulldowns | SETS7 | REPS: 8-15 


Instead of the machines seen in most gyms, Wilmore opts for the old-school version by placing one end of an Olympic bar in the corner and hooking a V-bar handle underneath the opposite end. “This goes back to the days of Arnold [Schwarzenegger] and Franco [Columbu],” Wilmore says. “With machines, you’re locked into a certain groove, but with free weights, you’re in total control. Plus, it’s harder doing them like this, so I figure it’s better for me.”

  • Arch your back at the top for a complete contraction
  • Look straight ahead and keep your head level
  • Pull to your lower abs
  • Keep your elbows in tight to your body
  • At the top, hold it and squeeze, mimicking the Christmas-tree pose onstage


Wilmore likes these for their increased range of motion. “You’re not limited by the bar,” he explains. “You can exaggerate the stretch at the bottom and take it back as far as possible at the top. Working one arm at a time [unilateral training] lets you focus a little bit more on each side, which is always good for improving symmetry.”

  • Arch your back at the top for a complete contraction
  • Pull to your lower abs
  • Keep your elbow in tight to your body
  • Let the dumbbell drift forward a little at the bottom for a better stretch
  • Avoid lifting your torso and straightening your leg at the top



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