Train Your Back Like Arnold Schwarzenegger

    One of the reasons Arnold Schwarzenegger had a massive chest was because he also had a massive back. So, if you want to take your physique to the next level, you have to get serious about back training.

    Arnold trained his back with an insane level of intensity and dedication. He blasted his back with the deadlift, pull up, barbell bent over row, t-bar row, cable row and lat pull-down. He knew that a big back builds a big overall upper body. The back is the largest and strongest group of muscles in the body after the legs.

    The impression of a strong v-shaped back is noticeable. Nothing says strength, as much as a strong back. Functionally speaking, having a strong back ties into the rest of your training success. For example, you cannot bench press big weights or squat heavy without having a strong and developed back.

    Intense back training is an absolute must to a strong physique and optimal athletic performance. When you start to train your back hard, your arms, chest and every other muscle group will gain in size and strength.

    So, let’s look at how you should take on back training. The back is a large and complex group of muscles. So, you want to train it through multiple angles in the horizontal and vertical planes. You want to develop width, thickness and strength in the back.

    Generally speaking, vertical pulling movements will develop width and horizontal rowing movements will develop thickness. The deadlift will develop power and strength.

    THE TRAINING FOR BACK WIDTH:

    You develop the width of the back from various overhead pulling movements – primarily the pull ups and lat pulldowns in their wide, medium or narrow grip variations. However, the best movement that you can perform for width is the pull up with a medium (slightly wider than shoulder width grip) and the second best for width is the medium grip lat pull down.

    Generally, the medium grip is the most effective overhead movements because it provides the best range of motion and the biceps are prevented from taking over since the arms stay to the side. With the wide grip, your range of motion is decreased. With the narrow grip your biceps are more heavily recruited.

    The third most effective overhead pulling movement is the medium narrow to narrow grip pull ups and lat pull downs. This variation will recruit more of the biceps but you’re generally able to pull more weight in a narrow grip thus able to stimulate the lats with heaviest weights.

    With the lat pulldowns, as you pull the bar down to your upper chest, you should naturally lean back a little to create a full range of motion. Briefly pause the bar at the upper chest then return it back up in a controlled manner.

    The exercises for back width:

    1. Medium Grip Pull Ups: 3 sets till failure (or 6-10 reps weighted)
    2. Narrow Grip Pull Ups: 3 sets till failure (or 6-10 reps weighted)
    2. Medium Grip Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
    3. Narrow Grip Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 6-10 reps

    THE TRAINING FOR BACK THICKNESS:

    The best movements for back thickness are the barbell bent over rows and the cable seated rows. If you don’t have a strong lower back yet, be cautious of the barbell bent over rows. It can strain your back if not performed correctly.

    Lift heavy weights with the cable seated rows and start off light with the bent over barbell rows until you perfect the form on it. Back thickness is developed by performing a high volume of rows. Perform rows in a variety of angles and forms (barbell rows, close grip and medium grip cable rows, dumbbell rows, high rows, low rows, T-bar rows)

    You want to maintain excellent form when performing rowing movements. The things to keep in mind are: 1) Slightly lean back, 2) keep your chest up with a slight arch in your back, and 3) squeeze your shoulder blades together.

    Once again, when doing rowing exercises form is extremely important. Three basic things to keep in mind: slightly lean back and pull up your chest, arch your back, and squeeze your shoulder blades together.

    The exercises for back thickness:

    1. Barbell Bent Over Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps.
    2. Seated Cable Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps.
    3. Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps.
    4. T-bar rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
    5. Machine High Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
    6. Machine Low Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps

    TRAINING FOR BACK STRENGTH:

    This is where the deadlift comes in. The deadlift is one of the most effective overall body exercises but it is a challenging exercise to perform. Heavy deadlifts take everything out of you. That is why many people avoiding doing them altogether. If you’re not a regular deadlifter then you should focus on developing form.

    The exercise for back strength:

    1. Barbell Deadlift: 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

    You will select 3 back width exercises and 3 back thickness exercises for your back training routine. Perform 4 sets of 6-10 reps on each exercise. When you master form on the deadlift, then also include deadlift once a week.

    FULL BACK ROUTINE 1:

    1. Medium Grip Pull Ups: 3 sets till failure (or 6-10 reps weighted)
    2. Seated Cable Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps.
    3. Medium Grip Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
    4. Dumbbell Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps.
    3. Narrow Grip Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
    6. Machine High Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps

    FULL BACK ROUTINE 2:

    1. Barbell Bent Over Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps.
    2. Medium Grip Pull Ups: 3 sets till failure (or 6-10 reps weighted)
    3. Narrow Grip Pull Ups: 3 sets till failure (or 6-10 reps weighted)
    4. Seated Cable Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps.
    5. Medium Grip Lat Pulldowns: 3 sets of 6-10 reps
    6. Machine Low Rows: 3 sets of 6-10 reps

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