Back to Jungle basics


The big thing now is, Ronnie Coleman’s back. It used to be the mammoth Brit who had set the standard for back development. I remember when Mr. Olympia Lee Haney had the back of the century. How times have changed. But, back training has not. Have you ever noticed that most back training article’s stress that reverse grip bar row is the new technique for back development. Wrong! Building back development, just like any other body part, is due to genetics, body frame, training intensity, and proper execution in each back exercise – Not reverse-grip bar rows! You must get back to the basics if you want to be a creature of the iron jungle.

The back is probably the most difficult body-part to train, other than legs, and a training area neglected by most individuals too. Why is the back one of the hardest areas to train? Well, first off, basic anatomy tells us the back consists of many interrelated muscle groups: the latissimus dorsi, the rhomboids, the teres major, rear deltoids, and the trapezius muscles. One of the other dilemmas’s when training back that bodybuilders and individuals in the gym face, is that they cannot seem to feel the movement as well as feeling triceps or biceps while training. So, to gain size and strength in back training, you must concentrate and work more on isolation, rather than more weight. Think of training back as if you’re performing a concentration curl.

If we are to start with the basics, then we better begin with the granddaddy of back training exercises, the BENT OVER BAR ROW. You thought I was going to say DEADLIFTS, didn’t you? Guess what? The deadlift, when done correctly, is not an absolute back movement. Take a moment and analyze the movement; either regular style or sumu style. Most of the movement incorporates leg and glute muscles especially on the initial pull. Why, do you think powerlifting guru Loui Simmons preaches doing box squats as an auxiliary movement for deadlifts? I know, all you self-proclaimed open book certified test taking experts think I am full of BS! Well, maybe I am, but if you take a biomechanics or kinesiology class, or even ask an ELITE-World Champion powerlifter than you will realize that the deadlift is not a total back exercise. Now, Lets get back to bent-over bar rows, you can do either reverse grip, or regular overhand grip.

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The proper positioning for a BAR ROW is place your upper torso at a 45% angle, and brining the bar up to your navel area, but slowly, with no herky jerky up and down movement. Do one warm-up set of 12 and then go into 3 sets of 6-8 reps with a moderately heavy weight.

Everyone does chin ups, but if you want to increase your mass by doing chin ups then strap on some weight. Chins primarily work the lats, but they work the rhomboids and activate the shoulders into action too. So, reach up and grab the chin bar with a slightly wider than shoulder overhand grip. Start with a warm-up set of 10-15 using your own body weight. The next three sets should be performed gradually in the 6 – 8 rep range. If you have never done chin-ups with weights, then add 5 pounds per set to start.

Trying to start a lawn mower? There are different positions for dumbbell rows, and that is not one of them. The correct position is to keep both feet on the floor and one hand on the bench, or one leg on the bench-one foot on the floor, and one hand on the bench. Also, keep your back flat and parallel to the floor. A good test for correct weight is to hold the dumbbell for a count of one, each rep, at the shoulder level. If you cannot, then the weight is too much. Perform 2 sets of 6 reps with dumbbell rows.

I have not seen that many people partake in this movement. Why? Maybe because Incline Dumbbell Rows are not readily featured in most bodybuilding magazines as an exercise performed by the pro’s. Place an adjustable incline bench at about a 45 % angle or higher, but not straight up. Lay stomach first on the bench with your upper chest slightly over the front of the bench, then place your feet on the floor stationed behind you. Grab two moderately heavy dumbbells that you can get 2 sets for 12 reps. Draw the dumbbells up close to the bench, like your doing rows with two dumbbells. Don’t keep your chest flat on the bench, as you slowly move the dumbbells up to the midpoint, arch your back to get that extra squeeze. This movement will build the trapizeus and give the upper back thickness like you won’t believe. The pump you will get from doing incline dumbbell rows is incredible too. Give them a ride and watch everyone in your gym copy you.

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The pulldown to the front is the number-one movement in most back routines. The important thing, and I do mean- the important thing, is to use a weight that allows you to use correct form. Correct form is to keep your torso fairly upright, with a slight arch in your lower back, so that it looks as though your chest is up in the air, and keep this stature throughout the whole movement. Start with your arms fully stretched and then pull the weight toward the base of your chin, so that you are not bouncing up and down out of the seat. No matter how you grab the bar – overhand or reverse grip – do not use your biceps as the main pulling power. In addition, you need frightening traps, so finish your back off with a hulking set to failure of bar shrugs.

Remember, you cannot see your back when you’re training. So, you must develop a mind-muscle connection. Also, when training back, you cannot just move the weights you must actually move the muscle. Furthermore, you must visualize the exercise, slowly execute the movement, and contract your back. So, shrug, pull, and squeeze if you want to be member of creatures in the jungle.

By Curtis Schultz

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