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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How To Build Lats (Wings) Like These

September 9, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Strong Lats muscles

Other than the shoulder muscles, I would say that the Latimuss dorsi (Wings) muscles are the biggest contributors in promoting a large muscle bound appearance. These are the muscles that will give you a V-shaped upper back and make you look like these guys,

captain_america musclessuperman muscles

By having well developed lats, you can get away with wearing certain types of clothes that you can only usually wear confidentially if you have a well-rounded body (Even if you have slightly less developed arms). However, if you do have well-developed arms but have slightly less developed lats, you will just look like an ‘average Joe’ or even worse… adopt an unnatural and imbalanced appearance.

There are many exercises out there that can help you develop this muscle group, but we’ll list my favourite exercises that will help you develop a monstrous pair of lats.

Pull ups (Gironda Sternum)

chin ups
I have talked about ways to build ‘real’ strength quite a lot in recent weeks, and this exercise is a really good way to do it.

Instruction

  • Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip, approximately shoulder width apart.
  • Now hang with your arms fully extended.
  • As you pull yourself to the bar, have your head lean back as far away from the bar as possible and arch your spine throughout the movement.
  • At the upper end of the movement, your hips and legs will be at about a 45-degree angle to the floor. You should keep pulling until your collarbone passes the bar and your lower chest or sternum area touches it.

Warning! The first time you do this exercise you will struggle!

Most people will initially struggle when lifting their own bodyweight, and doing any bodyweight exercises will be a real test of your strength. Although you will probably fail miserably and end up doing,

3 Sets

Reps

  1. 8
  2. 4
  3. 2

Your strength will gradually increase. But in the beginning stages you can always get a spotter to help you out. However, you don’t want to rely on that help too often, as too much help will hinder your strength gaining efforts.

You are talking nonsense… this is easy!

If you are reading this and thinking that, then you would have mastered lifting your own body weight. Unless you are some sort of transformer or mutant, there is no way to dramatically increase your weight. But you can do by using a dipping belt.

dipping belt to build muscle

This accessory will be essential when developing real muscle mass on your lats. What this belt will allow you to do is add extra weight around your waist, making it heavier and harder to lift yourself up. Once you get to this level, then I would say ‘you truly are the best’.

Straight-arm pull downs

straight_arm_pulldown
This exercise has to be good! Every time I am in the gym there is a queue for this machine. 😐

Putting the sarcasm aside, this is for sure one of my favourite exercises, and the pain that it inflicts never seems to ease up overtime either. This exercise is also lat specific, so you can easily gauge your efforts.

Instructions

  • Stand in front of a lat pull down bar with your arms outstretched towards the bar.
  • Place your palms flat on the bar and pull it down to shoulder level.
  • Keeping your elbows slightly bent and your wrists locked, pull the bar down towards your body in an arcing motion.
  • Once you contracted the lats fully and the bar has touched or come close to your thighs, slowly allow the bar to come back up to the starting position.
  • Keep your torso erect!

Dumbbell bent over rows

bentoverdumbbellrolls
Back when I first started to workout, this was one of the first exercises I would include in my routine, and it still is a key exercise that I do today. This won’t just build your lats though. It will help build up your entire upper back and even your biceps.

Instruction

  • Kneel over the side of a bench by placing your knee and hand (of the supporting arm) on the bench.
  • Position your foot of the opposite leg slightly back to the side.
  • Grab the dumbbell from floor.
  • Pull the dumbbell to side until it makes contact with your ribs or until your upper arm is just beyond horizontal.
  • Return until your arm is extended and shoulder is stretched forward.
  • Repeat and continue with opposite arm.

These are the 3 exercises that I KNOW have helped in building the main bulk of my lats, and they are the exercises I have used when I am trying to get back into the groove. The good thing about doing these is that they tend to give the quickest result, which is great for boosting your confidence levels, as that can tend to drop quite frequently. Include these exercises into your routines and YOU WILL build a great pair of super hero lats in no time.

Which exercises do you use to build your lats?

See you in the comments.

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