The back has never really been a “showy” muscle group to work. Unlike the showpiece muscles such as biceps or chest, your back muscles are an out of sight, out of mind muscle group. But a strong, powerful back not only is part of a complete physique, it makes your entire upper body bigger.
People sometimes forget that the back muscles are second only to the quadriceps for being the largest muscle group in the body. So for that reason alone the back should not be neglected. Performing exercises that strengthen your back are also going to help build a stronger core, powerful shoulders, bigger forearms, and thicker biceps. Also powerful lats help you bench more!
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Big Bad Back Program
This program is a heavy-light cycle where you alternate between each workout every time it is back day. You will also be working biceps and forearms in this split. Ideally you will take at least 3 days between back sessions for recovery.
Much like leg day should focus around squats, back day focuses around deadlifts as the primary power exercise. If you are unfamiliar with proper deadlift technique take some time to review diagrams and practice using only a bar to get the basic form down. Then start light and slowly increase weight over a number of sessions. There should be no hurry to obtain proper form because in the long run that will help your gains more.
The reason for heavy/light days is to attack multiple types of fibers in your muscles. Greater fiber activation creates more growth, strength, and size.
Rest periods between sets should be between 1 and 2 minutes if needed. Ideally your last set will be all out effort with maximum effort given. Previous sets should be considered warm-ups with progressively heavier weight.
- Deadlifts – 4 sets at 5 to 8 repetitions
- Pullups (wide grip) – 2 sets of maximum repetitions (if you can do over 12 reps then add weight)
- Single Dumbbell Rows – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
- Wide Grip Cable Rows – 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
- Barbell Curls – 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
- Incline Dumbbell Curls – 2 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
- Barbell Wrist Curls – 2 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions
- Barbell Reverse Wrist Curls – 2 sets of 6 to 10 repetitions
Rest periods between sets should be 1 to 2 minutes resting longer as sets progress if needed. For these sets you should pick a weight you can handle and do the prescribed reps and sets with that same weight. This workout will get you incredibly pumped and works your endurance.
- Dumbbell Deadlifts – 4 sets at 15 reps
- Wide Grip Pulldowns – 4 sets at 15 reps
- Barbell Rows – 4 sets at 15 reps
- Preacher Curls (straight bar) – 4 sets at 15 reps
- Alternating Dumbbell Curls – 4 sets at 15 reps
- Zottman Curls – 4 sets at 15 reps