Back Exercises

Total Repetition Method: Back Training

Build a big, powerful back with an old-time favorite.

josh bryant thumbnail by CSCS, MFS, PES
Duration 1 Day
Exercises 4
Equipment Yes

A well-developed back is essential to an aesthetically-pleasing physique and radiates an aura of power.

Maybe your back gains have flat lined with traditional methods or you just flat out want to try something different. If this is you, I have the solution; it’s an old-time Jailhouse favorite called the total repetition method. In the best-selling book, Jailhouse Strong, I co-authored with Adam benShea, the total repetition method was part of our revered back specialization program. So what exactly is the total repetition method and when can you do it?

Total Repetition Method

This lifting technique may be done with any type of strength training exercise, and any number of reps.

All it means is the chosen exercise is performed in the fewest number of sets to hit the prescribed amount of repetitions. Using the total repetition method,100 pullups might look something like this:

Set 1 - 15 reps
Set 2 - 12 reps
Set 3 - 11 reps
Set 4 -10 reps
Set 5 - 10 reps
Set 6 - 9 reps
Set 7 - 8 reps
Set 8 - 7 reps
Set 9 - 7 reps
Set 10 - 6 reps
Set 11 - 5 reps.

Final Thoughts

There are so many ways to progress the total repetition method, add weight, add reps without increasing time, do the same reps in less time, progress to harder exercise variations and the list goes on. This method is brutal, and a great way to simultaneously increase training volume and density. Enough theory, let’s put it into practice. For your next back day, give the following workout a try.

Sample TRM Workout

Exercise 1

Snatch Deadlift
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
3,5,6 reps
45 sec rest
*Overhand grip.

Exercise 2

Dumbbell Shrug You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Shrug thumbnail
3 sets
12,10,8 reps
30 sec rest
*Standing or seated.

Exercise 3

T-Bar Row You'll need: Barbell, V-Handle Attachment How to
T-Bar Row thumbnail
3 sets
8,6,5 reps
45 sec rest

Exercise 4

Weighted Pullup You'll need: Dip Belt, Pullup Bar, Weight Plates How to
Weighted Pullup thumbnail
-- sets
100 reps
45 sec rest
*If you are able to do more than 15 pullups at once add additional weight, if you drop below 5 use a band to assist you. Take each set to failure, rest 45 seconds after each set.