close grip pull ups


Equipment needed : Barbell

Target: deadlift (Erector spinae (deep), Gluteus maximus, Quadriceps, hamstrings, adductor Magnus, and soleus), etc

weighted chin-up ( levator scapulae, triceps brachii (Long head) Lower pectoralis major, Teres major, Latissimus dorsi, etc

barbell dead row ( trapezius , scapular part of the deltoid , Latissimus dorsi , teres major etc

Level : Beginner & Advance

Today I’m bringing you the perfect back workout, continuing the perfect series here. We have to face the facts right away. The back is not a single muscle group. We know the back is made up of many, many muscles. Which is a lot more difficult to piece together a workout that is going to hit all these areas. Remember, it’s not just the last we’re worried about. It’s all the other things we often can’t even see unless we know we have to train them and focus on them. With that in mind, we’re going to piece together a game plan. A plan of attack. To do that we want to make sure we hit the different areas. 

Number one: We know we’re going to need to hit them. We can do that with specific exercises that do that well. We also know that the traps take up a major portion of our back. Both the upper traps and lower traps. One of the most important parts, I think, for posture and for the proper function of your shoulder, we’re going to have to hit those as well. So, low back, again, no less crucial, guys.

It’s very, very important to how we feel, to how we function, and to making the entire kinetic chain work well, we need to make sure we’re addressing that as well. We have other muscles, too. Like the rotator cuff. Yes, those muscles all reside on the back of our shoulders in our upper back. This means, if you’re going to develop your back entirely you need to focus on those, too. Even something like the teres major. We want to make sure that muscle – because we can hit that preferentially a little bit more by altering the way we perform a popular exercise. That’s something that we’re going to want to address, too. But of course, we’ve got to make sure we do this within a reasonable amount of time. To do that we always start with a big, compound movement that’s going to accomplish and hit a lot of these areas at once. With that being said, let’s get started. Let’s kick off the perfect back workout. 


So, the perfect back workout. Herewith a compound lift, like I said. The deadlift. A great foundational exercise that’s chosen because it hits a lot of those areas that we mentioned in the opening. We’re going to hit the traps, we’re really going to work the spinal erectors, it’s going to help us train the lats, it’s going to help us train the scapular strength. Something we’re going to get into specifically there in a second. More importantly, what we can do is realize there are some compressive effects on the spine when doing the deadlift. We can pair this up with another great compound movement, the weighted chin-up, and allow us to get a decompressive effect when paired up together. The way we break it down is two sets of the deadlift paired up with the weighted chin. Two sets of a deadlift paired up with a bodyweight, wide grip pullup for a different purpose. Let’s get to the deadlift first. 


What we want to do is, as we work our way up – because we’re working with heavier weights here today. 8, 6, 4, and 4 for our four deadlift sets. What we want to do is make sure that we’re adequately warming up. So, we’re going to have to perform a few submaximal, light warmup sets along the way. Do this one thing for me as you do. Incorporate a straight arm pushdown when you do. Why? I love the straight arm pushdown. I think it’s one of the most underutilized back exercises. It’s one of the ones most helpful to ingraining one of the most critical elements of the deadlift and that’s the ability to perform straight arm scapular strength work, to provide and reinforce the stability of your shoulder blades, to keep that upper body tight when you do the lift. Do one set here. Not to failure. Each time you do a warmup set.

Now when you’re ready to go and your first set is 8 reps on the deadlift, you want to make sure you pair it up, as I said in the beginning, with a weighted chin-up. We’re going to do that compressive and decompressive effect. As we do that, we do 2-minute reps after the first set. We go over and perform the weighted chin-up here. I’m trying to go on the heavier side. So, for me, I’m looking for about 4 reps. Then we go back to the deadlift once again, increasing the weight a little bit to 6 reps. Here, we go back to the weighted chin. What I’ve done is tried to cut the weight in half so now I can get about 8 to 10 reps. For me, again, I’ll strip one plate and keep going. Now we come back, we go back to the deadlift again for our two heaviest sets. A 4 rep and a 4 rep. 

wide grip pull ups

close grip pull ups

The rest time, however, is going to continue to decrease. Here, I’m going straight bodyweight up to the bar with the wide grip pull ups. Why are we doing this? Because the wide grip will allow us to hit the teres major a little more than it will last. We’ve already hit the lats really well with the underhand chin-up because it points to the lats on greater stretch based on their attachment. Out in front of the body gives us a better stretch at the top, than it would with our arms out to the side.

We shift the focus now to the teres major for these last two sets. Again, the rest time is decreased because we’re going to straight bodyweight here on those wide grip pull-ups. From here we go and make sure we train something explosively. One of the rules of training athletes is, what you slow down, you should speed up. So, if we can do something explosively for the back, we want to take all opportunities to do that. For me,

barbell dead row

barbell dead row

my favorite exercise for this is the barbell dead row. It builds off the same movement pattern used for the deadlift, allowing you to train explosively, priming the performance on this move because it shares similar biomechanics, and we stop there at the knees, continuing to drive up, and perform the rest of the row. It’s an explosive movement. Again, we don’t go to failure here. We’re looking for ‘how quickly can we explode this off the ground?’ You’re not going light, and you’re not going super, super heavy. Choose about a 10 to 12 rep max, and perform8 to 10 reps. The next exercise is an opportunity to create something I believe is incredibly important, and sometimes overlooked. That is the value of focused tension. I just laid this out in an article on biceps and how you want to compliment your heavier compound training with focused tension and overload on the muscle you’re trying to develop.



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