Backwards Back Training

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Sometimes you need to step outside the normal in your training routine. Maybe you have been hitting a sticking point or just want a change of pace instead of what you are currently doing. Whatever the reason, when situations like that arise it is always good to have a few ‘different’ exercises available to really hit your muscles in a way they aren’t expecting.

For different that doesn’t mean using dumbbell rows instead of barbell rows, but actually attacking with unique angles that your body is not used to or expecting.

The back is a great place to try a change of direction workout on now and again. Typically for back routines people work with motions that are either pulling down or pulling towards. Let’s mix that up a bit and try hitting the muscles from a few new angles.

The Backwards Back Routine

You can do all of these exercises as a single routine or just add in one or two to your back trainingcurrent routine.

  1. Incline Pulldowns – Take an incline bench over to the pulldown station with the seat facing away from the machine. Set it to 45 degrees and ignore the weird looks. You will use less weight than normal. Take a normal grip and get settled on the bench. Now from here do pulldowns to your upper chest. Basically you are doing a hybrid between a pulldown and a row and with your back against the bench you can’t cheat.
  2. Sternum Chinups – Go to a pull-up station and grab the bar with an underhanded shoulder-width grip. Look up at the ceiling with a slight arch to your back and pull your body up until your sternum touches then slowly lower. This is similar to the incline pulldown but the underhand grip and non-fixed position make it feel different in the lats.
  3. Shrug Machine Rows – Go to the shrug machine and load on a few plates. Sit backwards on the seat, facing the opposite direction you normally would. Keep the pad firm against your back and row, pulling your elbows back and up. Again this is a hybrid motion rowing from a much lower angle and incorporating more traps and doesn’t allow cheating.
  4. Cable Pullovers – This is great for a wicked stretch on the lats. Attach a rope handle to a high pulley with a long cable. Stand with your back to the weight stack and arms stretched straight up (far enough away from the cable that it has tension). Now bring your arms slowly down to shoulder height, letting the cable go to one side of your head. Then let your arms go back up and the next time down, go to the opposite side of your head.

If you want an actual routine with sets and reps, here you go:

  • Incline Pulldowns – 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps (to failure on last rep, use slow and controlled reps)
  • Sternum Chinups – 2 sets to failure
  • Shrug Machine Rows – 3 sets of 6 to 10 reps (to failure on last rep, use slow and controlled reps)
  • Cable Pullovers – 2 sets of 15 to 20 reps (to failure on both, use slow and controlled reps)

The reason for the emphasis on slow and controlled is because these are new exercises to your body and you want to let it adapt to the angles without concerns for injury. Also it will help strengthen the muscle-mind connection which makes the exercise more effective.

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