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Build a Back Like a Golden-Era Bodybuilder With This Workout

Craft an old-school look with this aesthetic-minded routine.

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Classic-Back-Cable-Pulldown
EDGAR ARTIGA / M+F Magazine
Classic-Back-Cable-Pulldown
EDGAR ARTIGA / M+F Magazine

If your goal is to be classically built, you’ll have no choice but to attack your back with intensity, focus, and a meticulously designed program that will build the perfect combination of width, thickness, and separation.

This means that each exercise must be carefully selected and serve a specific purpose each workout. A haphazard, kitchen-sink approach has no place in the quest of a classic physique.

What follows is a three-week program I have put together exclusively for M&F readers who covet the classic look. It provides you with three unique training protocols meant to stimulate growth via different pathways, using strategically chosen exercises and intensity techniques meant for creating a jaw-dropping, showstopping back that is purely…classic.

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ASPECTS OF A CLASSIC BACK

  • Full and wide lats from origin to insertion, creating an X-frame.
  • Evenly proportioned muscle throughout the back musculature, with no one area overpowering another.
  • Highly developed mid-back through rhomboids and lower traps to create a 3-D effect.
  • Well-developed erectors and upper traps, but without appearing overly bulky, which would negatively affect the appearance of width from the back.

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TRAINING BREAKDOWN

WEEK 1: THE SPEC (STRETCH/PEAK CONTRACTION/ECCENTRIC/CONCENTRIC EMPHASIS) METHOD

This training protocol utilizes four distinct rep tempos (one for each movement), each emphasizing a different “section” of the range of motion. This forces the muscle to withstand a unique form of tension with each exercise, allowing one to tap into several muscle-growth (anabolic) pathways.

WEEK 2: THE FTX2 (FAST-TWITCH EXPONENTIAL) METHOD

This training protocol helps set up maximum fast twitch muscle fiber firing through the utilization of high reps (to exhaust slow-twitch fibers) and then heavy explosive lifts (to excite the central nervous system). This combination will make the final two movements substantially more effective for igniting hypertrophy.

WEEK 3: THE PRRS (POWER/REP RANGE/SHOCK) HYBRID METHOD

This training protocol utilizes various rep ranges, lifting tempos, and intensity techniques to blast all your muscle fibers, manifesting a massive pump and shocking the system into igniting growth. It is the perfect way to put the finishing touches on this three-week program.

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TEMPO EXPLAINED

Tempo is the term used to describe how fast you lower, lift, and pause with the weight in each phase of a repetition. It is expressed in seconds and begins with the negative (lowering) portion of an exercise, then the midpoint (stretch) portion, then the positive (lifting) portion, and if there is a fourth number used it will be the peak contraction (squeeze).

Routine

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The SPEC Phase

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 0

Close-Grip Pulldown

Equipment
Lat Pulldown Bar
Sets
3
Reps
10-12
Rest
--
2-4-1-1
Exercise 2 of 0

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Bench, Lat Pulldown Bar
Sets
3
Reps
10-12
Rest
--
Exercise 3 of 0

UNDERHAND-GRIP SEATED CABLE ROW

Equipment
Sets
--
Reps
7-9
Rest
--
Exercise 4 of 0

One-arm Dumbbell Row

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
7-9
Rest
--

FTX2 Phase

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 5 of 0

Stiff-Arm Pulldown

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
21-25
Rest
--
2-0-1
Exercise 6 of 0

Close-Grip Pulldown

Equipment
Lat Pulldown Bar
Sets
3
Reps
6-8
Rest
--
4-1-1
Exercise 7 of 0

UNDERHAND-GRIP SEATED CABLE ROW

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
13-15
Rest
--
3-0-1
Exercise 8 of 0

One-arm Dumbbell Row

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
13-15
Rest
--
2-0-1-1

PRRS Phase

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 9 of 0

One-arm Dumbbell Row

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
6-8
Rest
--
4-1-1
Exercise 10 of 0

Stiff-Arm Pulldown

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
10-12
Rest
3-0-1
Superset with Wide-Grip Pulldown: Sets (3); Reps (10-12); Tempo (2-0-1-2)
Exercise 11 of 0

UNDERHAND-GRIP SEATED CABLE ROW

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
1 x 16-20; 1 x 13-15; 1 x 10-2
Rest
--
2-0-1-1
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