How To Build A Muscular Back (Part 3)

November 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Bugs Workout Routines, The Fitness Bug

Welcome to the 3rd and final part of how to build a muscular back and as I mentioned in part 2, today I’ll outline a weightlifting routine for your weightlifting workouts where you can execute those exercises that I covered.

Before I describe these routines we will first cover them in order of difficulty.

  • Beginning
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced (I’ll leave that till another post)

This is to ensure that you build muscle mass at a safe pace, avoid injury, but more importantly, allow your body to grow once you hit a plateau.

Beginning Bodybuilding Back Routine

For those who are just starting out in bodybuilding, I always recommend a full body routine practiced 3 times a week that uses mostly basic exercises to target each muscle group. As a result, a back routine for the beginning bodybuilder may consist of just a couple of exercises that cover all of the back muscles.

  • One Arm Dumbbell Rows 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions (Rest: 1 minute)
  • Pull down To Front 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions (Rest: 1 minute)

How to Step Your Game Up

After 4 weeks of performing 2 sets of each exercise for 10-12 reps, move up to 3 sets per exercise. Keep the rest to 1 minute in between sets.

Intermediate Bodybuilding Back Routine

After 12 weeks in the beginning body-building schedule, it will now be time to ante up to an intermediate routine in order to keep progressing. In this routine, the body is split in two separate days; chest, back and arms on day 1, and shoulders, legs and abs on day 2.

  • Wide Grip Pull-up to Front (alternate with Reverse Close Grip Pull-ups on the next workout) 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions (Rest: 1 minute)
  • T-Bar Row Machine (alternate with One Arm Rows on the next workout) 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions (Rest: 1 minute)
  • Bent Knee Deadlifts 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions (Rest: 1 minute)

How to Step Your Game Up

After 4 weeks of performing 2 sets of each exercise for 10-12 reps, move up to 3 sets per exercise. Keep the rest period to 1 minute in between sets.

Note

Use either a spotter or a chin assist machine to help you perform the pull-up movements. Only use the pulldown machine at this stage in case that none of these options are available.

For most of you, reaching the intermediate level of the weightlifting routine for your back will be as far as you need to go in terms of building muscle mass.  But once you have followed all 3 parts of How to build a muscular back, you may just find that you have become your own self made super hero and have to invest in a new wardrobe.  Now quit reading already, I want to see some action! Go and build that muscular back already.

See you in the comments.

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How To Build A Muscular Back (Part 2)

November 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Bugs Workout Routines, The Fitness Bug

I hope you are all enjoying yourself this weekend regardless of what you are doing, but let me now break down some of the exercises that you can do to build up all of those muscles in your back.

Width and Thickness

These are the first two things that you must consider when building muscles on your back and it is important to first identify which exercises help build both and the muscle groups that they target.

Types of exercise

Compound and isolation movements

  • Pull up and pull down movements will promote width
  • Rowing movements will promote thickness

Man vs. Machine

I have previously talked about the differences between using both machine weights, free weights and bodyweight exercises and all have their benefits. But the exercises that will stimulate the muscles in your back the most will be compound exercises (bodyweight and free weights). However, I have considered that there will be those of you who are not quite advanced in the high strength development department as yet, so I have listed some exercises that are machine based or isolation exercises, which will give less stimulation.

The exercises

Latissimus Dorsi Emphasis (Emphasis on width but also help with developing thickness)

These exercises emphasize the latissimus dorsi section of your back with secondary stimulation of the midback exercises.

Free Weight Basic Exercises (Highest Stimulation)

  • Wide, Medium or Close Grip Pull-ups to Front
  • Wide or Medium Grip Pull-ups to Back

Note

(not good for those who suffer from shoulder pain or who are wide open to a rotator cuff injury).

  • Neutral Grip Pull-ups (using either parallel bars or a v-bar)

Note
(If you are not strong enough to perform pull-up exercises, simply either use a spotter to help you or a chin assist machine such as the “Gravitron”.  Even when using this machine the movement is still superior to doing a pull down)

Machine Based Basic Exercises (Less Stimulation But Good For Beginners)

  • Wide, Medium or Close Grip Pull-downs to Front
  • Wide or Medium Grip Pull-downs to Back

Note

Not good for those who suffer from shoulder pain or who are wide open to a rotator cuff injury).

  • Neutral Grip Pull-downs (using either parallel bars or a v-bar)

Isolation Exercises (Free Weights and Machine Based)

  • E-Z Bar Pullovers Performed On A Decline Bench
  • Stiff Arm Pulldowns Using Straight Bar
  • Stiff Arm Pulldowns Using A Rope
  • Machine Pullovers

Teres Major/Minor And Rhomboids (These are midback muscles so these exercises emphasize midback thickness but they also help with building width as the lats are stimulated as well)

These exercises emphasize the midback muscles and will give your back a thick and powerful look.

Free Weight Basic Exercises (Highest Stimulation)

  • Dumbbell Rows
  • Barbell Rows (medium shoulder width grip or slightly wider grip)
  • Underhand Grip Barbell Rows (underhand medium shoulder width grip or slightly wider grip)
  • T-Bar Rows (performed with a barbell and a v-bar on it; not on a t-bar machine)

Machine Basic Exercises (Less stimulation but good for beginners and advanced bodybuilders as they provide a different feel to the exercises and really bring out the devil in the detail of your muscles).

  • Low Pulley Rows (using V-Bar)
  • One Arm Pulley Rows (with high or low pulley)
  • Low Pulley Barbell Rows (underhand medium shoulder width grip or slightly wider grip)
  • T-Bar Row Machine

Isolation Exercises (Free Weights and Machine Based)

  • External Rotations Using Dumbbells or Pulleys
  • Rear Delt Machine (Has secondary emphasis on midback as well)

Traps


These exercises emphasize your traps as well as your delts. Therefore they can be trained either on back day or on shoulder day.

Free Weight Basic Exercises (Highest Stimulation)

  • Close Grip Barbell Upright Rows
  • Medium Grip Barbell Upright Rows
  • Upright Rows With Dumbbells Held Together
  • Upright Rows With Dumbbells Held 5-6 Inches Apart

Machine Basic Exercises

  • Close Grip Straight Bar Low Pulley Upright Rows
  • Medium Grip Straight Bar Low Pulley Upright Rows

Isolation Exercises (Free Weights and Machine Based)

  • Barbell Shrugs To Front (Can use barbell or smith machine)
  • Barbell Shrugs To Front (Can use barbell or smith machine)
  • Dumbbell Shrugs
  • Shrug Machine

Spinal Erectors Emphasis

These exercises emphasize the spinal erectors with secondary emphasis on the teres major/minor, rhomboids, and lats (as in the case of the bent knee deadlift).

You really need to pay attention to your exercise for with this exercise and the weight used should always be kept under control. Do not sacrifice form in the name of adding weight as doing so can result in serious lower back injury. (Remember this?)

Free Weight Basic Exercises (Highest Stimulation)

  • Barbell Bent Knee Deadlifts
  • Dumbbell Bent Knee Deadlifts

Isolation Exercises (Free Weights and Machine Based)

  • Good Mornings
  • Hyperextensions
  • Lower Back Machine

Just like on my article Balancing Cardio Exercises for Weight Training, you can use this as a personal guide on how to structure your personal weightlifting routines. But if your are really crap at doing that or are just to lazy too figure it out, the Bugmeister will gladly do the honour of giving you a weightlifting routine (regardless of what level you are at) in part 3.

See you in the comments.

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How To Build A Muscular Back (Part 1)

November 6, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

It’s the weekend people, and although it is the end of a working week for most of you, I will introduce a 3-part series of how to develop your back muscles to look like your favorite super hero.

My back muscles never did look too great to begin with and I simply hated that, as i already had a small waist. In general, a small waist is something that most of you will want (but might not have). The reason for wanting a small waist is because when you do develop a wide back, it will give you that cartoon super hero body builder look and that is the type of body that will stand out regardless of what you wear. But I had a double negative.

  • A small back
  • A small waist

= Double negative

Which meant that I looked like a scrawny puny tall Mr. nothing. However, that is a great base to build muscle up from, is what I began to do and is what I will share with you on how you can do the same.

In this 3 part series we will cover:

  1. The four main muscles groups of your back
  2. How to develop each one
  3. The exercises
  4. The weightlifting routines for your back

Today I will describe and break down the function of all four muscles in your back.

The back muscles are located on the posterior part of the torso and their function is to draw the arms back and downward. It is composed of four main muscle groups:

The Latissimus Dorsi

Located right under your armpits and stretches down attaching to the waist. Their function is to bring your arms down and backward.

The Teres Major/Minor And Rhomboids

Attaches to your lats around the shoulder blade area and are involved in moving and stabilizing your shoulder blades, as well as helping your lats move the arms.

The Trapezius (Traps)

Located on the base of your neck and extends themselves down to the center of your back. Lifting and rotating the shoulders is their main function.

The Spinal Erectors

Located at the back of your waist at the lumbar region and are attached to the vertebrae, the ribs and the pelvis. Their function is to provide posture and support to your spine.

Those are the main muscles that make up your back. But stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow where I’ll talk about the exercises that you can do to build up each of these muscles.

See you in the comments.

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