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Back Workout for Outer and Lower Lats

Mr. Universe Dave Draper.

Henrik from Denmark has been lifting for the last ten of his thirty years. At 6'5" and 255 muscular pounds, he's looking for greater mass in his back, particularly the outer and lower lats. Henrik (do you mind if I call you "The House?"), have you tried bent over rows with railroad tracks, or wide grip chins with a Volkswagen hanging from your waist?

I'm being a wise guy, but heavy rows and weighted chins are the two primary exercises for what you seek. In fact, here's a list of those that should be included in your workouts as you continue on your big back journey. I've taken into consideration that there are many readers of different training levels who will value exercise description.

WEIGHTED WIDE GRIP CHINS
Starting from a fully extended hanging position, pull the body up to the chin, deliberately arching and contracting the lats throughout. Lower slowly, extend, and continue. Form is everything, pure and controlled. Lat contraction is your purpose, not going up and down roughly any way you can. Here we have lats totally engaged, outer and lower. (Pulldowns work well, but chins are merciless: no possibility of cheating without silly body contortions.) After a warm-up set, hang an appropriate weight from your waist using a strap or belt, to give you a 12, 10, 8, 6 rep sequence. Not everyone is remarkable in chinning. Give it your committed best and you may develop remarkable lats. Added attractions are bicep peak, grip strength, linear abs and minor pec action.

CHINS BEHIND THE NECK
This modification shifts the resistance from the lats primarily to the inter-muscular activity of the upper back and deltoids. Not your target, but not bad. Good alternative on those rare slump days when change is sweet.

CLOSE GRIP PULLDOWNS
This pulley movement has a great appeal and serves well as an off day antagonist superset movement (example: dumbbell inclines with close grip pulldowns). Full range of motion from extension to contraction. Upper lat and mid back respond well to this good feeling movement. An alternative worth its weight.

SEATED LAT ROWS
These "low pulls" are a loveable exercise. Nice positioning, energizing catlike stretching and extending, followed by might in the controlled contraction. The reliable 12, 10, 8, 6 sequence with intense muscle work, 55 mile per hour pace, tight arched contraction, no pointless leaning back or dangerous excessive forward lean. Mid back and low lat sweep are the direct targets of this all-time standard.

BENT OVER ROWS
If the back was a domain, bent over rows would be king. Performed with the Olympic bar, hands gripped collar to collar, this monster movement provides mass, power and width. Sounds good to me. Warm up, set your groove and focus on five sets. You'll notice I like a 15 (warm-up), 12, 10, 8, 6 rep sequence with the appropriate weight increases. The groove you set will determine the range of back involvement. Bringing the bar from the hanging position to mid chest hits high across the back and shoulder cage. Pulling the bar to the mid waist with an arched back contraction promotes muscle growth in the mid and low back with specific low lat involvement. Now you've got it. Be wise, keep a log with comments and calculations.

STIFF ARM PULLOVER
If you like supersetting, a stiff arm pullover between sets is gratifying and productive. A moderate+ weight allows you to stretch and revives the muscle cells and adds immensely to upper lat building. Keep the secondary pullovers at 6-8 reps.

REVERSE GRIP BARBELL ROW
Lower lat sweep is accomplished with this unique and compact movement. Performed with a bent bar, close grip, pull the bar tight to the waist, arching the back to engage full low back, low lat muscle mechanics. Moderate weight allows safest and surest articulation of this demanding form movement. Sets of 6-8 match the demand.

ONE ARM DUMBBELL ROWS
This potent exercise stands alongside barbell rows in mass and power building seriousness. Executed with the same intensity, they are wisely done as alternatives to the wide grips. Stabilized in a powerful tripod stance - none of this knee on bench stuff - one arm rows remove the load from the lower back, enabling you to tough your way through lumbar overload. Relief in this overworked area is priceless. In all your exercises focus, form, and practice yield perfection.

There are a variety of one arm cable exercises for pumping and creatively working the lats, especially the lower lats, that can be brought into play as your perceive their value. They are often best for feel, pump, change of pace and let-up. Enjoy them.

Henrik, you're well along in your bodybuilding knowledge and experience. From this block and tackle repertoire you can form your workouts over the glorious years ahead.

Here are some random suggestions for reference:

Work the back 2 times per week.

Choose 3 or 4 movements per workout, 4 if you're a gorilla and if you are back prioritizing, that is, working your back exclusively in your back day.

5 sets per exercise using a 15, 12, 10, 8, 6 sequence where suitable.

Recognize primary and secondary muscle involvement. Back work is primarily pulling: muscle extension under fire - big demand on bicep insertions. Take this into consideration.

Work with intensity, instinctively maxing weight or reps, keeping your eyes on the clear line defining excess and overtraining, know your moods and motivators. Coax yourself into heavy workouts, but don't plunder your stores. Back off every other workout, save doubles or singles for every third or fourth week.

Remember deadlifts as a supportive exercise, performing 4 sets x 8-10 constructive, therapeutic reps. One or two workouts per week after legs, or 6-8 w.o. per month for torso protection, resistance and much, much more. Deadlifts are, along with squats and bent bar curls, my favorite exercise. I'm reluctant to include them in a workout with an accent on power because of the already heavy load on the lower back, considering bent over rows are king. As training goals get reorganized, deadlift workouts can be accentuated. Heavy deadlifts are systemic muscle builders, but they can drain the body for days.

This is what I'm considering for my next back workout. After my usual warm-up, I'm gonna do some weighted chins, then go into wide grip bent over rows, supersetted with pullovers, followed by seated lat rows, supersetted with moderate dumbbell shrugs. Next time I work chest, I'm supersetting dumbbell inclines with close grip overhead pulldowns with my grip reversed. The rest is up to you.

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