Whether your goal is to body-build, improve your athletic performance as a weekend warrior or just to get that sought after V-taper that ties together an aesthetically pleasing physique, well developed back muscles are the key. While many actively train their back muscles, the execution of a plan and a few crucial cues have many spinning their wheels for results. The scope of this article will examine a few key tips for making the most out of your back training sessions and having you develop the cobra-like appearance you seek.
When you train your back…actually use your back muscles.
Now while this may sound like stating the obvious, I can’t tell you how often I see people executing back movements (among many other body parts) all wrong. While many pick exercises that are meant to specifically target the back as well as core lifts that will secondarily help develop the back, the fact is many haven’t learned how to properly use the back muscles to perform the movements.
Some of the biggest errors when people train back muscles are during the pulling movements, too much weight or a jerking, momentum based movement is used to just ‘move the weight’ instead of working the muscle. The solution is to focus on the key elements of positioning and muscle activation. Keep your chest up, shoulders back and a small (not stressed arch) in the lower back and stay in the proper position. Another key cue for activating the back that helps many is to imagine that the weight is directly behind the elbows, so no matter what movement you are doing, you are helping force your back to be the first muscle to fire rather than focusing on just ‘pulling’ the weight from in front of you.
Don’t Be Afraid to ‘Strap Up’
Now while many will scoff at the idea of using straps when performing lifts and stand by the old adage of “If you can’t grip it, you can’t lift it”, using straps could be the key that helps you activate your back to a higher degree than before. You see, it can be difficult, especially for those still learning proper mind-muscle connection to develop the proper execution for back training as the forearms and biceps will take on the majority of the work and they fatigue much quicker than the back.
By utilizing straps, it helps you take the forearm activation out of the equation some and really let you focus on back activation, pushing the intensity of your training to where you want it (the back) and away from where you don’t (the forearms/bicep).
Utilize Pre-Exhaust Exercises
While many will stand behind the thought of making compound lifts the bread and butter of any training routine, don’t be afraid to do some accessory lifts to start out the workout. Before compounds lifts like deadlifts, barbell rows, etc., try doing some isolation exercises for higher reps to get the muscles firing and help establish the mind-muscle connection. This will make it much easier to ‘feel’ your back working during the the compound lifts and really get the ball rolling in regards to your progress.
Get Back In Action
Now with these 3 tips, go forth and utilize them in your next back day. Sometimes a wild and exotic workout routine isn’t the key, but rather focusing on making the most of the workout you are currently doing. Re-focus on the basics and remember, efficiency and consistency is key to successful training.