Q: I’ve altered every training variable I can think of—exercise selection, rep range, total volume, and frequency—but my back still isn’t growing. Any advice?

-J. Wharton, Atlanta, GA

A: One variable you didn’t mention is exercise tempo. Most guys lift at an even tempo, meaning they take as much time to lower the weight as they do to lift it. By adding time to the eccentric, or negative, portion of an exercise, you hit the target area much harder than you do with even tempo. this creates more damage to the muscle fibers, forcing your body to come back bigger and stronger. In your back workout, apply this concept to the most functional exercise, the pull-up. Do a set of pull-ups where you take at least twice as long (two to three seconds) to lower your body as you do to pull up to the bar. Once that’s easy, extend the negative to four or five seconds. After that, add weight or extend the negative to 10 seconds. Your lats will grow, and you’ll develop an iron grip, too.

The Workout

Incorporate the slow eccentric pullup into the following back routine or use it as a finisher in a different back workout.

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Bentover Barbell Row 4 8-10 2 min.
Heavy Dumbbell Row 4 8-10 2 min.
Inverted Row 4 10 1 min.
Seated Cable Row 4 10 1 min.
Slow Eccentric Pull-up 4 10 2 min.