When it comes to training the back and the chest, the latter is trained significantly more by the average meathead.
The standard mindset for most men is to only train to what they see in the mirror. The chest. The biceps. The abs. These muscles receive all the attention when it comes to the average male in the gym. This is how that same man begins his transformation into a pure meathead.
That mindset is also what limits what a trainee can do as far physique and performance improvement.
While pecs, biceps, and abs are important they are vastly overtrained at the expense of training the back!
When you train in a fashion that does not promote balance or symmetry, you can only build an incomplete physique. And if you think hard about it right now you probably know a few trainees who have this look that I am going to describe.
You have seen the man in the gym, the classic meathead who looks as if he has never missed a chest or biceps workout. But it is also painfully obvious that this meathead also has not trained his back since Nas dropped the forever classic Illmatic 22 years ago!
This is very common among the average, commercial gym trainees but the games have to stop fellas. You are more than just a set of pecs and biceps. If you want the complete physique you cannot avoid training your back.
Training and building your back is very hard work, but nothing in life worth anything comes easy. Success requires struggle.
It is the development of your back that will allow you to have a superhero-like upper body. When you train your back it is typically broken up into two parts: training for back thickness or training for back width.
Width is the topic of the day. In order to increase the width of your back, you must put a focus on training your lats.
The lats are a hallmark muscle for a man. When you combine big lats and a tight midsection you will have an upper body that has a great V-Taper.
You may even be mistaken for a cobra or a kite at some point during the day.
There are 2 key movements that you want to focus on when it comes to building the lats. They are:
This should be a no-brainer but I still witnessed many empty pull-up bars when I used to train primarily in the commercial gyms.
If pull-ups are not a part of your training program then you are not truly training. In my early training career I did not prioritize pull-ups. It showed as I possessed a back that had zero width.
I used to perform pull-ups as an add-on at the end of a training session vs. being the priority movement. The result was obvious when I showed up at my first bodybuilding show with AIR LATS.
There are 2 other main variations of the pull-up. They are the chin-up and the neutral grip pull-up.
The chin-up uses a supinated grip (underhand). The neutral grip uses a palms-facing each other grip. All 3 variations used consistently and progressively will make you grow.
The pull-up hits the lats hard when done correctly with proper form. You pull yourself up until your chin crosses over the bar. You then lower yourself down until your arms are fully stretched out before you attempt your next rep. That full stretch really gets the lats involved. Alligator arm pull-ups do not count.
Your goal should be to get to stronger by eventually performing weighted pull-ups and also performing them through a variety of rep ranges and training programs.
The bottom line is that you need to toil away on that pull-up bar. The man who spends his time at the pull-up bar will see drastically better results than the man who does a couple machines and leaves the gym after taking his “beastmode” selfies. You cannot fake hard work and pull-ups are hard.
The best way to implement pull-ups into your program is to prioritize them. My 18 Week Chin/Dip Program is great place to start.
If you want a stronger and more developed back then the pull-up is now your best friend.
Pullovers are forgotten movement from the good old days of bodybuilding.
Pullovers were used often in the Golden Era because of their effectiveness in building the lats. You did not see many bodybuilders from that era who did not have big lats.
As time went on a pullover machine was created. If you look around at most commercial gyms, it is mainly used as a coat hanger.
While the machine pullover is OK, it has nothing on the dumbbell or EZ Curl bar version of the move when it comes to building a wider back.
With the dumbbell pullover you are laying across a bench with a dumbbell in your hands. You will the use both hands to elevate that dumbbell over your face and into the air. Don’t drop it because when iron meets bone, iron always wins!
You then are stretching that dumbbell back until it kisses the floor. After that you return to the bell back to the top before going back into the stretch for another rep.
You main goal is to truly feel the stretch in the lats by using a controlled rep speed. You also want to keep constant tension on your lats by performing smooth reps. They should feel like they are going to jump out of your skin.
When you bring the dumbbell back to the top, you want to initiate that pull with your lats. Don’t let your arms do all the work.
If you have not performed pullovers since baggy jeans were hot, you can expect to feel some soreness in your triceps too due to the nature of the move.
The EZ curl bar version is very similar except you are laying flat on the bench as if you were going to perform a dumbbell bench press.
While holding the bar close to you, you tuck you elbows in as much as you can before stretching back as far as you can into that deep stretch. You return the bar to the chest and then repeat.
It is very important to get the most out the EZ curl bar version that you contract the lats at the top of the movement.
By implementing pull-ups and pullovers into your training routine you will be able to build wide and impressive back. No longer will you be known Mr. Air Lats when you train!
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