The Following 6 routines will be divided into lower back workouts and back thickness/back width workouts. You are to complete all six routines, one after the other. After which you will repeat all six, creating a 12 week cycle of workouts!
6 Week Lower Back Routine
The Lower Back region is an area many overlook. I can't emphasize what a mistake this is! Improving and strengthening the lower back, will not only increase all of your other back lifts, but also many other lifts for various body parts! Also, direct lower back work will prevent injuries and accidents. The lower back and abs work together, which is why I recommend training abs on back day. I'll usually combine lower back and abs after my back workout to ensure maximum gains. This is the set-up and exercises you will use for the lower back. Train with these after completing the day's back workout:
Workout 1: Good Mornings- 3 sets with a rep range of 10-12 reps.
Workout 2: Weighted Back extensions - 3 sets, rep range of 6-8, immediately after failure set the weight down, and perform reps with just your bodyweight.
Workout 3: Back Extensions - for reps- 3 sets, perform reps to failure. Dead lifts hit the lower back hard, so no weighted work is needed.
Workout 4: Good Mornings - 3 sets with a rep range of 10-12 reps.
Workout 5: Back Extensions - 3 sets for reps.
Workout 6: Back Extensions - 3 sets for reps.
Building the Ultimate Back: The Workout:
During workout one, we are going to be concentrating on thickening the back, for maximum size, and density.
Phase 1: Barbell Rows(4 sets)
Barbell rows are an awesome back thickener, as well as a very painful exercise! I recommend one warm-up set. Warm-up with a light weight and really concentrate on feeling the back muscles working, and pulling the weight. This will better aid in proper technique for the rest of the sets. On this exercise we will be utilizing the strip set principle, to work the back through it's full range of motion, and to beat the back muscles into total submission.
Again proper technique is essential, as you will not be using collars. Taking the collars on and off will only waste precious time. Load the bar up with enough weight so that you come to failure between 8-9 reps. Now as soon as failure is reached, re-rack the bar, strip some of the weight( 15-25 percent is a good standard), and proceed again. Continue this technique until the burn becomes unbearable. I'm not going to give a dead set number to strive for, because everyone has his or her own levels of conditioning.(Personally, I can usually get 4 strips per set). I would recommend loading the bar with smaller plates, so that you can strip just enough weight to force out 4-6 additional reps per strip.
Note: Again, if you are a beginner then one strip can do the trick, and four is usually the maximum. You also might vary. Set one strip it 4 times, set two strip it 3 and so on.
Phase 2: T-bar Dead lifts(3 sets)( reps - 10, 8, 6)
Dead lifts are perhaps the ultimate-overall back builder. They are a compound movement, involving the whole body, with most of the emphasis being on the lower and upper back. This variation of the dead lift is one of my favorites, and will provide a great pump! I like to pyramid up for these, in a rep scheme of 10-8-6. Meaning in the first set I'm failing at 10 reps, then 8 for the second, and finally 6 for the third and final set. The technique is the same as a dead lift, except you will be using a T-Bar instead of a barbell. I prefer a mid-hand grip position, with my feet centered in the middle of the footpads(this may be different for you, place your feet where you are most comfortable, and can lift the weight in a smooth, controlled fashion). Keeping your head up throughout the set, lift the bar up, pulling with your lower back. As you reach half way up in the range of motion, begin transferring the weight to your upper back until you are standing straight up. That is one complete rep. I prefer to not set the bar down after each rep(explanation coming later), to keep constant tension on the back muscles. This means coming as close to setting the bar down as you can(the lower the better), then right before touching pull up again for the next rep. However, for this particular lift the choice is yours.
Phase 3: Incline Bench Isolation rows(3 sets)
On this exercises we will be utilizing the drop set principle, to keep the burn going. As your row up, squeeze the back muscles hard at the top for a maximum contraction. Once you have dropped to a lighter weight, heavily emphasize static contraction on the last rep to add tons of new thickness! So reach failure in the 10 repetition range and strip to a weight you can lift for a total of 6 reps. On set two perform 8 reps and strip down to a weight you can lift 6 times. On the last set perform a set of 6 reps, followed by a strip that allows you to get 6 reps again.
Phase 4: Wide-Grip Lat pull-downs(3 sets)
Finally, top the workout off with wide-grip lat pull downs. Use the Static strip set principle to fry the outer lats! So on set one reach failure in the 10 repetition range, strip the weight by 25 percent and hold it in a state of peak contraction for 15-30 total seconds! Repeat for the following two sets, except pyramid down to 8 reps and finally 6. That's it for workout one, slug down your post-workout shake and prepare for extreme soreness!
This session the workout will be designed to add width to your lats, and give you the V Shape!
Phase 1: Pull-ups with multi-hand positions(4 sets)
This is literally the exercise that will add the most width to your back. The pull-up is the king of lat width, and various hand widths, can help ensure maximum development of the whole latisimus dorsi complex. Learn to love them, cause they will give you wings to fly.
The sequence for the sets goes like this:
• Set 1 and 2 = Wide-grip chin-ups
• Set 3 = Shoulder-width chin-ups
• Set 4 = Palms facing you close-grip chin-ups
Here's the hardcore part! - Set a bench, or block under the pull-up bar. Position it so that you can push your body up with your leg. The idea is that after failure, you can use your leg to push your body up to the bar, and cheat on the positive("up") portion of the pull-up. However, to make this technique useful at all, this means extra emphasis on the negative(lowering) portion of the exercise. Try for 5-15 second descent, and shoot for at least 5 forced reps per set! You say you can't even do 1 chin-up?
That's fine, because this technique will get you ready too like no other! Even if you can't do 1 pull-up, you can still fight the negative! And if that's the case emphasize the negative even harder! Go for 5 forced pull-ups, with all three-hand positions.
Phase 2: Rope pull down(3 sets): 8-10 reps plus strips
For this exercise attach the rope(usually used for tricep pushdowns or cable crunches) handles to a lat pull down machine. Now, position yourself under the pad, and grab the ropes. Pull the rope down to your chest, splaying the rope out as you pull down. Touch the middle of the rope to your middle chest that is 1 rep. Perform 8-10 reps to failure, then apply the drop set principle, and go to failure again for 6-8 reps. Continue in this manner for your level of fitness. I prefer a triple drop set.
Phase 3: Decline dumbbell pullovers(3 sets)
These are an awesome compound movement, and are neglected way too much! They build unbelievable mass around your lats and chest, and even help carve out your obliques and intercostals. Make sure your form is excellent for these, and really squeeze your lats hard. The decline bench will stretch your lats hard, giving you an incredible pump!
Phase 4: Seated cable rows, with a wide-grip(3 sets)( reps 12, 10, 8)
Finally, top this workout off with 3 sets of Seated cable rows, using a wide-grip. I just use the lat pull-down bar. This will help add thickness to the outer lats, and help you appear wider!
Congratulations you've made it through workout 2! Get your rest, eat your vitamins, and say your prayers, cause workout 3 is right around the corner!
This routine is super hard core, but once you complete it, you're going to have that feeling of well being that you get when you've had a killer workout.
Phase 1: Continuous-grip dead lifts(4 sets)
How would you like to add tons of new size to your back, traps, forearms and neck? How about all in one exercise? Today I want to introduce you to the Continuous-grip dead lift. I warn you though this exercise is going to take everything you have, and you will have to be mentally strong in order to break through the pain barriers. I owe most of my forearm and back size to this one exercise. I love the gains so much, that now I can't even imagine a back workout without it!
Warming up: Good quality stretching is vital before this exercise. The CG dead lift puts a lot of strain on your whole body, so you want to be limber. One of my favorite stretches for this exercise is just bending down and grabbing the toes of my shoes. This stretch will loosen up your hams and lower back. Before beginning this style of dead lift, perform two sets of back extensions. Don't go all out on these; just get a good stretch in your lower back, along with a mild pump to get the blood flowing. Also include two warm-up sets of dead lifts, with one being lightweight, and one being medium weight.
The form of the continuous-grip dead lift is the same as that of a regular dead lift, except that you will not be setting the bar down after each rep. You will bring the bar down as low as possible, until you are just about to touch the floor, then immediately pull back up again. That's 1 rep. I prefer loading the bar with smaller weights, like 25's and 10's, so I can get even lower to the ground. Therefore, increasing the range of motion.
The sequence of handgrips will be as follows:
Set 1 and 2 = hands shoulder-width apart, with an overhand grip. Reps - 10, 8 plus 20 second rest pause
Set 3 and 4 = hands shoulder-width apart, sumo grip. This means a grip in which one hand takes an underhand grip on the bar, and the other hand takes an overhand grip on the bar. Reps - 10, 8 plus 20 second rest pause
For each set, you will perform 1 rest-pause mini-set. If you find your forearms giving out before your back, use straps here to aid you in the rest-pause reps. After failure, set the bar on the floor, rest 20 seconds, then lift the bar again and perform reps to failure. I prefer no straps, as this exercise will add tons of size to your forearms. If you do chose to use straps wait until you have reached initial failure first, then if you want to use them for the rest-pause sets that's fine.
Phase 2: Mixed-Grip Chins(3 sets)(Bodyweight to Failure)
Alternate your hands back and forth for four sets, so that you are stressing each side twice. These are an awesome strength exercise. The hand with the underhand grip(palms facing you) will take the brunt of the load. I prefer to let the hand taking the load do all the work. Try to think of your other hand as more of a balance mechanism, and a way to cheat the other side up, when failure begins to set in.
Again, if you can't perform any pull-ups, then simply perform 3 sets of cheat wide-grip chins, using the bench as a mechanism, to push your body up to the bar. Then of course fight the negative hard. If you can get 6-12 pullupsthen just perform each set with your own bodyweight to failure.
Phase 3: Close-grip pull downs supersetted with wide-grip cable rows(4 sets)( 12, 10, 8, 6 on each)
Note: for an explanation on supersets, simply click here for a detailed version, and here for the condensed. Here we bombard the entire back with one amazing superset. This will set you back on fire! Concentrate hard on pulling with the back muscles and not your arms.
Phase 4: Cable dead lifts(3 sets),( Reps 12, 12, 12)
These are a favorite of "The Man" Jacob Wilson and after a few sets I quickly realized why! The constant tension they provide will add new slabs of meat to your middle and lower back! I like to squeeze hard at the top for a phenomenal contraction! This is a teeth-gritting routine, but really give it everything you've got! Now get your z's, and cross your t's (with nutrition that is), cause you're going to need the recovery power!
This session is focusing on totally shocking the overall back, into new growth and strength.
Phase 1: Side-to-side chins(4 sets):( Failure With Own Bodyweight followed by minimum of 5 negatives)
This style of chin-ups will really shock your outer lats, helping expand them from sparrow wings to falcon wings! Do four sets in total, and like the mixed-chins in the last workout, emphasize each side twice. Include at least 5 forced reps per side(if you can stand to do more, then do, this is a minimum number), using the bench-under- the-bar technique discussed earlier to help cheat them out. Remember, the negative must be fought with everything you have, until the pain makes you feel like your lats are being ripped off your sides!
Phase 2: T-bar rows supersetted with Low machine rows(3 sets)
This is an awesome superset, perhaps my favorite for back. It will build thickness all the way down the back, bringing you one step closer your ultimate development! On the T-bar rows, take the grip that has your hands close together, with your palms facing each other. This hand positioning will really target your inner and upper back, and will pull hard on your lats!
Immediately, superset the T-rows with machine rows. For the machine rows, you need to position the seat as high as it will go, and grab the handles of the machine as low as you can(if you are really tall, and you don't feel a good stretch even with the seat placed high, then stand up straight until you feel the stretch). This body positioning will stretch the lats hard, and emphasize the using of the lower lats. This is a hard area to target, but this exercise does the trick. You really want to hit this part hard and emphasize static contraction on the last rep. This superset will spread your lats like peacock feathers! Nothing looks better than a front lat pose, with lats that seem to disappear into the sides of your waist! This look is only achieved from fully developed lower lats! You can also help emphasize this area, by going all the way down on pull-ups. I personally go all the way down until my arms are totally straight(especially stress this on the forced pull-up reps--the negative pull will blow this area of the lats up!). This is the same concept of going all the way down on preacher curls for the lower biceps.
Phase 3: Face-pulls(4 sets)
Face-pulls will make your upper back expand to new sizes! On these you will be utilizing both the ascending sets and descending sets principles, along with the static strip principle. Follow a rep scheme of 10-8-6, with 10 reps being the lightest weight, and 6 reps being with the heaviest weight. As soon as you reach failure at the sixth rep, reduce the weight by 25 percent and rep out to failure again, hold the last rep stressing static contraction, and then strip the weight one more time. On this weight utilize the static strip principle to burn your upper back to a crisp!
Phase 4: Barbell Rows supersetted with Dumbbell Rows(2 sets)( Reps 8, 6 for each exercise)
By placing this hardcore, mass building superset at the end of the workout, your back will be forced to work ultra hard, and use up whatever stubborn muscle fibers survived the previous sets! Emphasize heavy weights for this superset. You will be doing two sets in total. Complete dumbbell rows for each arm after completing the barbell rows. Give these sets all your power, and keep perfect form to prevent injury. Congratulations! You've made it through workout four! By now you should be getting more hardcore workouts from the better mind-to-muscle link you have with your back!
Phase 1: Continuous Grip Dead Lift(4 sets) Reps( 10, 8, 6, 6 then strip as instructed)
This style of dead lift provides constant tension on the back muscles, forcing them to adapt to heavy weights quickly! Nothing has added so much thickness to my back and forearms as these have. Before we used the rest-pause principle, but this time we will use the strip set principle. I prefer having a lighter barbell ready to go, but if you just want to re-rack the bar and strip some of the plates off that's fine. Use about 50% of the original weight used, for the strip set.
Phase 2: Wide-Grip pull-ups supersetted with static pullups supersetted with Wide-Grip Pull Downs (3 sets)(Reps - Bodyweight to failure, followed by a static pullup, followed by a rep range on the pulldowns of 8, 8, 8)
This superset will completely fry your outer lats. As soon as you can perform no more pull-ups, immediately perform the static pull-up. After you can no longer stand it superset the static pull-up immediately with wide-grip pull-downs, to finish off the remaining muscle fibers. Again, if you can't perform any pull-ups, use the negative pull-up technique, including the static pull-up.
Phase 3: Two Arm Dumbbell Pullovers(3 sets)( 12, 10, 8) followed by alternating reps
The two-arm pullover is awesome! The stretch and the pump for the back are unmatched! After you reach failure, alternate your arms to take the set past failure and past the pain zone! You see by alternating you will be able to gain enough of an advantage to continue the set for longer then normal.
Phase 4: Seated Cable Rows to the Neck(3 sets)( Reps 12, 10, 8)
This isolation exercise will do much to add thickness to the upper back. Make sure you use a weight that you can strictly control to get the most benefit from this exercise. Also, heavily stress static contraction on the last rep of each set, to really get the blood flowing. Session five is now completed! You have made it halfway through the program!
For workout six, HIT(In other words minimal sets, with super-high intensity) Style training will be applied. In other words minimal sets, with super-high intensity. Trust me; you'll need high intensity just to survive this workout!
Phase One: Sumo-grip dead lift supersetted with forced rep pull-ups
These are the regular dead lifts performed with a sumo-grip style(this means a grip in which one hand takes a underhand grip on the bar, and the other hand takes an overhand grip on the bar). This method allows you to handle more weight, than the standard overhand grip.G
o for maximum poundages, and total failure. Immediately, perform wide-grip chins to total failure( own bodyweight), and include a minimum of five forced reps.
I recommend completing this super set one time for beginners, twice for intermediates, and three times for advanced athletes.
That's it! The key here is intensity! If you are intense enough, you will get unbelievable growth from this routine! Instructions after six weeks are complete Now restart the entire program, and see how much you have improved as far as weights, reps, and stamina from the first time you completed the workouts.
Good luck with your training, and good luck carving out the ULTIMATE BACK!