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Badass Big Back Training

#2: Mixed rep range drop sets for a BADASS big back!

March 10, 2016

If there is one thing that guys and gals can agree on in today’s strength training world, it is that a big back is king and looks badass to boot!  Look at anyone sporting a thick and wide back and you know that a LOT of work has been put in, and chances are, he/she has the traps, glutes and thickness in the legs to go along with it.

One problem I hear all the time when working with athletes and clients is that they cannot “feel” their back.  One quick way to remedy this is to use activation drills at the end of your warm up, in order to get that mind-muscle connection needed to get a the most from your back training.

“Feeling” your lats is important for a LOT of reasons other than packing on muscle mass, but also due to the role the back plays in your success on your big lifts.  Here are a few quick examples of why you need to “feel” your lats working:

Keeping the bar close to you during deadlifts and the 1st pull on cleans and snatches, in order to maintain optimal leverage, bar path and a stronger pull (as well as a safer back/spinal position):

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Producing a stronger, more stable base for the bar to sit on during squats 

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So, since we know that the lats not only look awesome when truly developed along with the rest of the back, but they also play a huge role on many other movements, lots take a look at a few aspects to consider when training the lats:

  1.  The lats can handle a lot of volume (and frequency), so don’t hold back on both the volume you hit them with, as well as training them 2-3 days/week (more depending on how your training is structured)
  2. The lats need to be trained in both a vertical and horizontal plane (thick pull ups/lat pull down variations vs. bent rows, 1 Arm DB rows, etc…)
  3. Use a multitude of rep ranges to achieve both  strength and muscle mass
  4. Use a variety of exercises, angles and rep tempos

So, with a general rundown on the importance of training the back not just in general, but with a purpose…here is one of my favourite set/rep schemes to use in order to really achieve a solid training effect.

HOW TO IMPLEMENT

After completing your main “big bang”  lift, complete this protocol for 2-3 sets/side, focusing on fully contracting the lats and upper back and creating as much tension throughout the entire range as possible.

Sample workout

A.  “Big bang” exercise (bench, overhead press, olympic lift variation, etc…)

B.   Supplemental exercise after main exercise (typically a movement with direct carryover to the main lift or other compound movement)

C.  *1 Arm DB Row mixed rep range drop set (5-10-20)

as shown in the video, I started with a 130lb DB, for 5 reps, then a 100lb x 10 reps and finished with an 80lb x 20 reps.  REST 1 min btw arms, and 1-2 mins between full sets.  I also recommend you complete several deep breath release stretches on each side after each set.  This will open up the lateral line and open up any restricted space in the shoulder joint!

D.  Additional accessory work + conditioining + mobility/stretching

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Give this variation a try, and let me know how you feel right after or even the next day!

Get after it!

CS

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