Today we’re going to go over my 5 favorite exercises to FORCE more back growth. As a general rule, I always insist on sticking with the BASICS, so Pull-Ups and Bent-Over Rows should be a staple in your BACK training.
But if you’ve just recently hit a plateau or maybe lost motivation because your workouts are getting stale and boring, try switching up your routine with a few of these exercises.
Exercise #1 – The Meadows’ Row
With the recent passing of John Meadows, this exercise couldn’t be more appropriate. It really is a smart exercise for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s a unilateral movement which allows you to focus on each side individually. So don’t be surprised if you feel a bit of strain on your core as well.
Secondly, the positioning of your body in relation to the weight enables you to be quite explosive and THAT’S what you should be after when trying to FORCE growth. Also, remember that explosiveness is KEY with this exercise. So don’t just pump out reps. Instead, load up as much weight as you can handle for an EXPLOSIVE rep and then be sure to control the weight on the way down.
Remember, we get the most muscle breakdown during the eccentric so take advantage of it, especially if you use a bit of momentum on the way up.
Exercise #2 – The Inverted Row
Now, why would we want to bring in a bodyweight exercise over something like a heavy Bent-Over Row? Well, that’s because the Inverted Row allows us to be a bit more versatile with our sets and reps and the strength built with inverted rows will directly transfer to other row variations.
For example, you can start with your bodyweight and depending on your strength you can make the exercise easier or harder by adjusting your foot position.
Basically, the more horizontal your body is, the harder the exercise becomes.
Also, you can wear a weighted vest as you progress and get stronger.
As for the versatility aspect I mentioned earlier, the Inverted Row can help you push through strength and muscle endurance plateaus because as soon as you start to fail on your reps, you can continue to pump out more with a quick adjustment of your feet.
For a lot of you, learning what it feels like to push PAST failure will be a new experience and something that you can bring to other exercises as well.
Exercise #3 – Double Cable Row
Now, if you are an OG subscriber, you might have seen me do this exercise before and I called it a “Monkey Row”. But the name doesn’t matter. What’s important is the uniqueness of the exercise.
For starters, the cables provide constant resistance throughout the entire range of motion and contrary to the Lat Pulldown, for this specific exercise, you’ll be pulling the weight from a different angle which will focus more on the inner and lower lats. That’s because the resistance is “coming” from two different sides, instead of just pulling something directly downwards.
Just make sure you allow your shoulder blades to come completely apart at the top of each rep, to help fully stretch your lats before re-engaging them as you pull the cables towards your sides.
Exercise #4 – Barbell Pull-Over
If you’ve never tried this before, you are in for a treat! Now, in the past, I have covered how to use a Dumbbell Pull-Over to target your chest or back and you can check out that video right HERE.
But by using a barbell, we can really make use of this exercise to put our shoulders into a position of extreme flexion which sets your lats up for a very deep stretch at the bottom of the movement.
Just make sure you really warm-up those shoulders before trying this exercise and I’d also recommend you start fairly light with the weight until your mind-muscle connection is efficiently activated. You can even try using an EZ curl bar if that is more comfortable on your wrists.
Exercise #5 – Eccentric-Only Pull-Ups
It’s a lot easier to load up on weight with your horizontal pulling movements. But for the vertical pulls it can be more difficult to apply a super heavy load to the lats.
I mean, we have the option of using some momentum on Lat Pulldowns and then controlling the weight on the way up, but it’s not optimal. So, how can we take advantage of such a beast of an exercise to FORCE new growth in the back? Well, set-up a box or a bench near a pull-up station, load up as much weight as you can handle and then start each rep of pull-ups at the TOP of the movement.
These HEAVY NEGATIVES will rip and tear into your back muscles and cause a lot of breakdown and growth. In fact, this is a technique I use a lot with my clients to help to be able to do more pull-ups in a row, or even their very first bodyweight pull-up.