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No one enjoys crippling pain but the dedicated lifters among us tend to regard soreness as progress – a badge of honor worn with pride, if a slightly diminished range of motion. And when it comes to training the back, it can sometimes be difficult to achieve that hallmark soreness because you can’t see your back at work during each set. One way to summon those long-neglected fibers – to leave no doubt as to the growth environment you’ve created – is to put yourself through the paces of a high-volume session with one exercise or movement pattern.
The pullup is a timeless back-builder that guys tend to eschew in favor of lat pulldowns and row variations. But if you can build proficiency with the pullup, then gains in lat size and strength are not far behind. Your biceps, by the way, get a healthy dose of peripheral work from nearly any pullup variation.
Once or twice a month, use this pullups-only routine to thrash your back and get growing again. For this workout, we’re suggesting an overhand grip, with your hands spaced just outside shoulder-width apart. Each time, choose a different variation such as underhand pullups (chin-ups), a narrower overhand grip or, if you have access to parallel bars, use a neutral grip. For a finishing act, raise your arms up parallel to the deck and contract your lats hard for 30 seconds. Try not to cramp up and be sure to stretch your lats thoroughly when it’s all said and done.
60 Days to Fit: Follow this program from fitness expert James Grage and you’ll be in great shape in just two short months.