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       Fitness Tips For 2/2/2005  

Bodybuilding Back Workout
Bad, Bad Back...
by Lester Maurice of Bodybuilding Guide
Author of Matrix Mass 

Developing a wide powerful back is important to us and to 
many of the clients we consult. In the gym, it seems to 
separate the devoted athletes from the "weekend warriors". 
How many times have you noticed someone with lats which 
were just "TOO big"? Not in our recent memories. Along 
with a big back usually comes solid biceps, powerful 
forearms, thick traps and well-shaped deltoids. All these 
adjacent body parts are developed indirectly through 
intense back/latissimus progressive weight training. To 
develop a strong back without affecting these other areas 
would be truly difficult if not impossible.

Though extremely valuable, it is hard to motivate yourself 
to train this area properly. Back training can be tough 
because many of the exercises place a significant stress 
on the lower vertebrae and compress the rib cage, making 
it difficult to breathe. For instance, bent-over rows, 
though extremely effective, can crush your rib cage making 
it an uncomfortable position. Heavy seated cable rowing 
seems to stress even the healthiest of lumbars. Plus the
motivation to train hard is sometimes lacking since you 
canít see your lats easily while pumping them up. Even 
with these shortcomings, if you want to develop an 
impressive upper torso, you will have to set your 
training goals, modify exercises when necessary and train 
your back hard and heavy.

Lat Muscles

There are no short-cuts to a powerful lat structure but a 
few rules will make it easier to develop. You need to spend 
time learning the exercises so you can feel your lats 
contract on each and every repetition. Some trainees spend 
years doing mediocre lat training and then suddenly, something 
clicks or someone works with them and they finally experience 
a full lat pump. One important piece of advice from us: 
Perform your back exercises more slowly than your other body 
parts avoiding the use of momentum. Focus on contracting your 
lats while trying to pull your shoulder blades back as far 
and tightly as possible on each exercise. Finally, use an 
underhand, palms up grip, on as many exercises as possible. 
This places your biceps, which are a weak link in lat 
training, in a stronger more favorable position. This will 
allow you to take your lat contractions further into fatigue.

Here is a giant set combination which has been very successful
for many of our personal and internet clients. All four 
movements should be performed in giant set style. Move from 
one exercise to the next, with no rest in between, only the 
time it takes to get yourself into position. The four 
exercises together count as ONE set. So, you can replace 
this sequence in your program but donít perform more than 
three total giant sets. If you do, youíll be wiped out! 
Rest 3-5 minutes between sets. This combination hits every 
angle of your back structure including the width and depth 
of your upper, middle and lower back.

Lat Exercises

#1) Chin-ups (8 to 10 reps)Palms facing you with a 
shoulder-width grip. Go to failure and if you canít perform 
at least 8 reps, get someone to assist you by the knees for 
some forced reps. 

#2) Reverse-grip lat pulldowns (6 to 8 reps)With palms facing
you, use a 10-12 inch grip on a straight bar. Pull down to 
the top of your upper chest, arching your torso to meet the 
bar. Keep your elbows tight to your rib cage and breath 

#3) One-arm dumbbell row (8 to 10 reps) Brace your free knee 
and arm on a flat bench and pull a dumbbell up to your lower 
rib cage, keeping your elbow close to your torso. Lower the 
dumbbell slowly with control. 

#4) Dumbbell pullovers (12 to 15 reps)Lay your upper back 
across a flat bench and lower a dumbbell behind you, 
stretching your lats and rib cage, pulling the weight back 
up over your head. The key is to keep your hips down close 
to the floor. A tip is to take a deep breath before 
lowering the weight behind you. This is a great chest 
expander as well!

About the Author

Lester Maurice is the head of Matrix Systems a consulting group
of personal trainers specializing in bodybuilding and fitness 
development located throughout Southern California. For more 
great muscle building and fat burning tips visit his website 
at Bodybuilding Guide.

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