Get "Back" Your Back

Feb 15, 2011
Get "Back" Your Back

Ian Lauer discusses how to get BACK into the Routine

Destroy the “Flapjack Back”

You have seen the guys that can bench press the gym but have no back. What I’m talking about it a back that is flat and shapeless like a flapjack standing on end atop a pair of walking sticks. There isn’t time currently to address the “walking sticks”; but, I will tackle the “flapjack back.” Everyone wants to bench press a lot of weight and it is fun; however, let’s not forget the idea of creating a well balanced physique. The sign of a master Physiqueician (yes, I just created that word) is the ability to shape and mold the body to that of Zane-like proportions.

Physiqueician: A workout enthusiast that understands the intricacies of a well balanced, tone, muscular, athletic body and works to improve their own as well as others.
A thick and ripped back are essential to support and balance the advances made on the chest by every gym rat out there. Are you a gym rat or a Physiqueician?
What have you done for your back development in the past?

I’m going to guess some Lat Pull downs, a few variations of Rows, and Pull-Ups. While that’s not bad it leaves a lot to be desired if you are looking to create a V-Taper that would make any tornado jealous! Understand also that a strong bench press has to be supported from the base. The base for your bench press is your back. That’s correct Johnny, a stronger back will increase your Bench Press as well! So how do you build that thick sinewy back with the wicked taper?

I have your answer.

Step into the gym with unparalleled intensity. Recently I added Sci-Fit’s Dark Energy to my supplement regiment. I have found it to be an excellent pre-workout drink helping to increase my intensity in the gym resulting in a massive pump. You can learn more about this supplement at Whether or not you use supplements, make sure you bring you A-game and have INTENSE MUSCLE BLAZING WORKOUTS!


General Warm-up

5 minute jog

Muscular Specific Warm-up (Click on Exercise to VIEW)

  1. Lat Pull downs

  2. Machine Row

  3. Back Extension

The Lift

General Warm-up

-5 minute jog

Before starting any workout routine it is important to warm-up. This gets the body ready to work at maximum capacity. This is similar to allowing your car to warm up before flooring it and speeding away. A proper warm-up elevates the body temperature and helps prevent muscle tears and strains. Be cautious not to “warm-up” too long however. An extended warm-up can sap much needed energy for from your lift. A five minute jog or bike will suffice.

Muscular Specific Warm-up

-Lat Pull downs
-Machine Row
-Back Extension

Once your general warm-up is complete perform a few quick exercises that focus on the specific area you will be targeting, the back. You will be going light for these exercises and just doing one set of each exercise for 15-25 reps. This primes the back muscles even more for the workout and lubricates the joints as well. After the Muscular Specific Warm-Up you are ready for the assault on your back.

The Lift

Deadlift 5 x 15,12,10,8,max reps

Often forgotten, most likely because it is not easy, is the Deadlift. This is an old school tried and true exercise that adds serious mass to the back. Make sure to use your legs during this exercise and keep a “flat back.” There will be a slight arch in the back during this lift. The most important thing to remember is to keep from “rounding” your back. If the back rounds you are at risk for lower back injury. The other note to keep in mind is that the shoulders are always higher than the hips. If you maintain this position and hold this thought in your mind it will help you keep you back in the power position.
Do build up sets so start relatively light and build your weight with each successive set.

Explosive Pull-ups: 5x6-8

Pull-ups are a great exercise for the back. Often we do them at the same pace. This is a variation on that. I want you to think of doing this as a “plyometric” movement.

ProNote: Consult a trainer before performing this movement if you have any shoulder issues or other concerns regarding this movement

As you are performing the “explosive pull-up” you are ripping your way upward and lowering at a faster than usual rate. At the top of the movement you should develop enough momentum from the explosive movement upward that you can actually let go of the pull-up bar. This is not to say that you have to let go of the bar but you need to have that kind of energy generated on the upward movement. Perform 6-8 reps. If you find you are struggling, do as many reps as you can get and still maintain the explosive movement.

Rope Rippers: 5 sets of 20 seconds

You may have seen some people doing this at the gym. This is the exercise where you have a long heavy rope with the midpoint attached to a stationary object and you hold the ends of the rope outstretched as far from the stationary object as possible. With bent knees, you throw the arms upward and immediately rip downward using your Lats. This motion is repeated creating waves in the rope all the way from the hands all the way down the rope to the stationary attachment point. This is a great plyometric “full force” style exercise for the shoulders and in this case focused on the lats. Performing five sets of 20 seconds each is perfect.

Weighted Pull-ups: 5x10

We hit the plyometric/explosive pull-ups earlier. Now, it’s time to focus on controlled movement and get some extreme growth. If you can you will be using weight in addition to your body weight. Either attach plates with a belt and chain or hold a dumbbell between your feet. This is the standard pull-up. Get a good squeeze at the top and stretch at the bottom. Focus on feeling a stretch in the lats at the bottom of the movement and pulling the shoulder blades together at the top. Use a weight that you can maintain this form with. This will hammer those lats and jack up that V-taper in a hurry!

Barbell Row: 4x10-15

The Barbell Row is the Granddaddy of upper-back development. You know the drill! Keep the knees bent and hold an arch in your back. Pull the bar just above the navel and let it back down to extended arm position.

ProNote: Be sure to keep the arch in your back to protect the lumbar region

Every rep feel the stretch in the upper back as you lower the weight and the squeeze between the shoulder blades as you pull it back up to the stomach. Try both over and underhand grips. An underhand grip is best for really feeling the squeeze and engaging the whole back.

Dumbbell Row: 4x10-15

(no rest/move from one arm right to the next)
This is the standard Dumbbell row. Knee and hand on the bench with the foot on the side you’re rowing placed firmly on the ground. Pull the dumbbell to your side and lower it back down. Full squeeze at the top and a good stretch as you lower the weight. You may let the weight “push forward” at the bottom of the movement to increase the lat activation. When performing this exercise move immediately from one side to the other.

Lat Pull down: 3x15

At this point of the routine the heavy lifting is complete. The last upper back exercise is all about the squeeze/stretch. Pump the muscles of the back as full as possible and experience a crazy pump in the lats and rhomboids. For the lat pull down pick a weight that you know you can get ten reps with, but fifteen will be really challenging. Ideally on the second and third set you end up getting around fourteen reps because you simply are unable to do any more. If you hit this point you will have reached temporary muscle fatigue which is imperative for muscle growth. Feel the insane pump and love the burn. If you don’t, Tough! Go home!

Back Extension: 3x25

Finish your back workout with a few sets of Back Extension. These can be done on the roman chair or on a lower back extension machine if that is available. I prefer to use the roman chair but occasionally use the machine to add some variety to the workout. The lower back is often neglected and becomes the weak link. A weak lower back reduces the potential of your upper back and can lead to lower back pain as well. As you can see, strengthening this area is of the utmost importance. Don’t skimp…make it happen. A few sets of 25 reps on a regular basis can make a huge difference in the long run.

This “Jacked Back” workout will take your body to a new level. It is not easy. Many will fall off of the wagon on the way to the gym and not even try it. Some will attempt it and give up half way through the first workout. A brave and soon to be powerful few will follow through, do it regularly and get insane results. Are you up for the pain? Don’t just be a “gym rat.” Step up to the challenge and become a master “Physiqueician!”

-Ian Lauer CSCS

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