Today, we’ll be looking at 3 HACKS to help you build a bigger back!
Now, these hacks are what I like to call “Sequential Hacks” meaning that if you want to TRULY maximize your gains on all your back exercises then you'll need to master each of these hacks in the order I’m going to teach them.
Hack #1 - Mind Your Shoulder Blades
If you can’t remember to retract your shoulder blades when doing back exercises, especially on HORIZONTAL pulling movements like Bent-Over Rows or seated cable rows, then you're leaving A LOT of gains on the table.
This is because when you retract and squeeze your shoulder blades together, you’re activating your rhomboids, traps AND lats to generate the maximum amount of power to help you “pull” the most amount of weight.
Also, when you fail to retract your shoulder blades, you'll instinctively start pulling the weight more with your ARMS instead of your back which brings us to Hack #2!
Hack #2- Stop Pulling With Your Arms!
You see, when you fail to squeeze and retract your shoulders, you end up activating more biceps, forearms and rear delts. So if you've never really felt your back during your BACK workouts, this is most likely the reason why.
Also, believe it or not, if your mind-muscle connection isn’t the greatest with your back muscles you’ll also instinctively pull more with your arms when using a traditional grip with your thumb wrapped around the bar.
So, to help you disengage your biceps and forearms as much as possible, I want you to try this trick. Whether you’re doing a Pull-Up, Barbell Row, Dumbbell Row or Cable Row I want you to grip the bar with your thumb on the same side as your fingers, effectively creating a HOOK with your hands.
This one little change will be enough to mentally break through your block of not understanding what it means to pull with your back.
Then once your grip is set, focus on pulling back with your ELBOWS. The goal is to drive them BEHIND your back as far as you can while simultaneously retracting your shoulder blades.
They’re super quick to put on and very comfortable on the wrist when you start lifting heavier weights. Click HERE if you want to pick up a pair and use my code MS10 for 10% OFF the entire IronBullStrength site!
Hack #3 - Learn When To Respect & Disregard Proper Form
Now, it should go without saying that if you’re a beginner or learning a new exercise, your focus needs to 100% be on proper form and by “proper” I mean a controlled concentric and eccentric phase.
But as your muscles and tendons get stronger you’re going to want to push yourself a bit harder and with back exercises we can introduce “cheat reps” to help you overload your sets with more weight.
For example, when doing a Bent-Over Row you can use a belt and a bit of momentum to skip through the concentric phase and focus on a controlled negative with much heavier weight. The same goes for Lat Pull-Down and Pull-Ups. Use momentum to push through the concentric phase and then control the negative.
This is important to learn because you will always be about 40% stronger in the eccentric phase of an exercise. So theoretically, you will never be able to concentrically pull you “max” load.
But you can implement CHEAT reps a few different ways. Let’s say you’re doing sets of 8 to 10 reps. If you get “stuck” on rep 6, you can utilize this technique to push through those last 2 – 4 reps safely.
For those of you who are a bit more advanced, you can adopt the training style of my CHEAT & RECOVER program where each set consists of 8 cheat reps followed by 8 reps of “proper form”.
Remember that the muscles in your back are big and strong and respond very well to explosive movements such as T-Bar Rows, Barbell Rows and Pull-Ups. So, it should go without saying that if your stuck in a muscle building plateau, it’s most likely because you need to push harder on your reps and these three hacks will turn your current back training on its head. I guarantee it!
If you want to try my CHEAT & RECOVER 12 week training program that will show you how to master CHEAT REPS on every exercise, not just back, then click this link right HERE!