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By: Obi Obadike
These days everybody seems to be focusing on their abdominals, while neglecting training their back. But the beauty of building a great back is creating the illusion of the ultimate taper V shaped, small waist and a wide tree trunk of a back. This takes consistency, diligence and an incredible amount of discipline. As a skinny kid in high school, developing my body was very difficult. My back was narrow and not much to look at. It took me many years of training my back consistently with different exercises to build it to a point where it is one of my best body-parts.
The best way to train your back is to implement a wide variety of anaerobic weight-training exercises. I want to share some of the exercises that have helped me build my back.
The first exercise is pull-ups. The pull-up is one of the best exercises for building a wide back. It also is one of the most difficult exercises because most people have a hard time doing sets of pull-ups with their own body-weight. If your objective is to build a wide back, make sure your arms are wide, shoulder width apart. In fact, when I do pull-ups my arms are always wide because I have a naturally narrow back. My goal is to widen my back, so I always do pull-ups with a wide arm stance.
I always do overhand pull-ups with my palms facing away, which directly focuses the exercise on my back instead of my arms. Indirectly, you will work your arms in this exercise. After placing your arms in the right place, lift your body upward until your head is above the pull-bar. Head above the pull-bar counts as one rep. A common error I see is swinging or using your legs to pull yourself up. This exercise is a fluid smooth upward motion. Also, make sure you are breathing properly and not holding your breath, as that will cause you to pass out. Repeat this exercise, 10 to 12 reps.
Another great back exercise is barbell bent-over rows and the proper form for this exercise with knees bent slightly. Bend over the bar with your back straight, grasping the bar with a wide overhand grip. Pull the bar to your upper waist and return until your arms are extended and shoulder are completely stretched forward. This exercise primarily targets your back. Also, breathe properly throughout each rep as this is very important to relax. Repeat this exercise to 10 to 12 reps.
The third back exercise is behind the neck lat pull downs. It works with both narrow and wide grip, your choice. Personally I like to do this exercise wide grip because my objective is to build a wide, not narrow, back. From the starting position, make sure your arms are shoulder width apart on the bar. Pull the shoulder blades down and together, making sure you contract the latissimus dorsi muscle. Initiate this contraction by bending the elbows. Pull your arms down and out until the bar touches the back of your neck. Try to not swing during this exercise and make sure it is a controlled smooth pulling motion. Repeat this exercise about 10 to 12 reps.
The fourth and final back exercise is the seated machine row. Before you start, your feet should be planted firmly on the ground. Adjust the seat so that the handles in front of you are slightly lower than shoulder height and the chest pad is positioned so that your body will stay erect. From the starting position pull the handles all the way back until your elbows are beneath the shoulders.
Your latissimus dorsi as well as your rhomboids and middle trapezius should be fully contracted throughout the stretch of this exercise. Pay attention to making sure you have a natural arch in your lower back and that your head and neck are in a neutral position. Remember breathing is always important when you are weight training. Inhale during the downward phase of the movement and exhale on the upward phase. Your elbows should always be pointed downward. Repeat this exercise about 10 to 12 reps.
When implementing all four of these back exercises, change up your routine every 4 to 6 weeks so your body doesnÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ƒÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡¢ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢€Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡¬ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢€Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚Â¾ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡¢t get used to the same workout. To optimize muscle growth, you have to continuously keep your body guessing with new exercises. You will hit a plateau sticking to the same routine day in and day out. Do this and you will see substantial gains.
When you are training your back, make sure that you feel the muscles working. If you donÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ƒÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡¢ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢€Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡¬ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢€Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚Â¾ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡¢t, then either you have too little of weight or your form is incorrect. It took me a long time to learn this simple concept. I used to train, and at times I couldnÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™ƒÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡¢ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢€Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡¬ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢€Ãƒâ€¦Ã‚Â¾ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡¢t feel the muscle working. Most of the time this was because I was doing the exercise incorrectly.
Using correct form when training your back is so integral to its overall development. The back is made up of the following main muscles: the trapezius muscle (also known as traps), the latissimus dorsi (lats), the middle back or rhomboids, and the spinal erectors. Shoulder shrugs and upright rows are the main exercises for developing traps. I try to perform these twice a week, early in the week and then during the latter part. Your back muscles are the largest and most complex muscles of your upper torso and they are also the toughest muscles to feel while you are training them. That is why your strict form is so paramount in the success of building your back.
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