Rory McInerney from FFS Gyms is back with our weekly dose of performance advice, this week we focus on how to get a bigger back.
You know what they say, back is the new front…
People were previously obsessed with getting as big a chest and shoulders as possible but, thankfully, over the last five years there has been a huge shift in the mentality of people looking to increase size and pack on muscle mass.
People are now looking to increase the size and strength of the muscles in their back as opposed to just what can be seen in the mirror.
I say “thankfully” for these two main reasons;
- The injury prevention benefits
- Postural improvements
It would seem that with increased time sitting at desks in the workplace, people are starting to see the significance in adding postural and corrective work into their programs. I am a huge believer that this is one of the most important areas any lifter can work on to stay injury-free, prevent imbalances and facilitate packing on muscle mass by having a strong and healthy back.
*Major plus: If you have a bigger back it tends to open up your chest and shoulders and make you look even bigger from the front. Win, win.
Here are my key exercises and advice for building a bigger, stronger, healthier back.
1. Incorporate Postural Exercises
These two exercises will look incredibly basic, but if you have been following my blogs you will now I am a believer that basic is best.
I guarantee they will teach you how to correctly set your scapular muscles before any pulling movement that will be essential to increase size on your back.
Technique Points: Pinch your shoulder blades and back down. Imagine the guy in the video is trying to crush the ‘coach’ letters on his back. Focus on both of the elbows pulling down and back at the same time and feeling a nice even contraction, not being lopsided.
Technique Points: A progression of an upper back activation exercises is the band pull apart. It is very important to initiate the squeeze from the same muscles as the W Rep (Rhomboid, mid traps, infraspinatus – basically the muscles between your shoulder blades).
2. Pull Heavy
Use big movements that engage all of the large muscles in the back (lats, rear delts, infraspinatus, lower traps). My favourite ways to engage these muscles are with several chin up variations. If your chin ups need work then have a look at this.
Include any two of the following variations of chin ups in two of your workouts each week. You could add tempos, pauses and eccentrics but for now start with the basics.
- 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps depending on your level, feel free to add resistance or use assistance bands if necessary to complete the prescribed reps.
- Underhand chin up
3. Assistance Exercises
Use at least three of these five exercises in any two of your workouts each week.
As these are assistance exercises, the rep range should be slightly higher. Shoot for 2-4 sets of 12-15 with no more than 60 seconds rest.
– TRX Row
– Supine Row
– Lat Pull Down
– Prone Dumbbell or Kettlebell row
– Seated Pull/Row
Try to incorporate these basics into your weekly training routine and make them a staple of your programs to increase back strength and size, you will reap the rewards. Happy training!