Updated: Aug 18, 2019
In the most previous shoulder workout articles, I promised I would go into more explanation about how to train your back correctly. When I use the word “back”, I should point out I am talking about your lats, rhomboids, lower/upper traps, and rear delts. You cannot simply train back with a few sets of pulldowns and half assed rows to effectively train this large muscle group.
I have seen my clients rapidly gain size and strength by increasing not only their frequency but also volume when it comes to training the posterior portion of their body. Typically, for every pressing motion, we will perform 2 to 3 back movements. Back is trained twice a week, allowing at least one to two days of recovery.
As always, it has to be designed specifically for the individual. For those with rounded, interiorly rotated shoulders, I prescribe more rowing motions than overhead movements. If your shoulder structure doesn’t have any serious issues, then it is about a 50/50 split for rows and overhead pulling.
I can honestly say the basics work best and perfecting technique should be continually be improved no matter the level of the trainee. Emphasize different angles, but also design your workouts according to body structure. Here are some of the movements we use at my facility, along with some details for each movement.
1-Arm Row Dumbell Row (w/ band attachment): extremely effective for teaching a novice lifter how to row properly. The bands not only add resistance on the concentric portion of the movement, but it reinforces how to keep the shoulder down during the entire range of motion. DO NOT START WORKOUT WITH THIS MOVEMENT. I would place it in the middle of the workout after thoroughly warming up.
Angled Lat Pull Down: another great movement to teach new trainees how to pull with their lats. I am not a believer in making athletes use an extreme range of motions. Allow for a slight pull at the end of the movement, then pull down. As you pull down, slightly lean back, but not excessively to prevent hyper-extension in the low back.
Trap Bar Row: one of my favorite movements for training the traps and rhomboids. This movement has movement has to be done using a controlled tempo. If this row is performed incorrectly, you will see too much body movement taking place in the hips and the upper body becomes upright. Start with light weight to perfect technique and gradually progress in weight as you master the Trap Bar row.
One Arm Machine Row: an excellent finisher to your workout. Not only does it require concentration but also allows the trainee to focus on each lat individually. I always remind my athletes to pull from the back and allow the arms to go for a ride. Another visualization is to picture the back as the motor, the elbows are pulleys, and the hands are hooks.
Please feel free me if you have any questions, regarding your training and nutrition.