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Impressive wing span. Grow some lats.

One of the many problems of lifting weights and building muscle is that it is difficult to show off. Actually it’s very easy to show off; just dye yourself orange, wear your kid sisters T-shirt and walk around as if carrying an invisible roll of carpet under each arm. What is difficult is showing it off without looking like a tit. I have been guilty, in the past, of cladding myself in under-sized clothing and having a bad case of ILS ( imaginary lat syndrome), but, dear lord, it makes you look a complete arse. Instead, what you want is to appear stacked in normal attire, as Emil said to me once – I don’t want to look big in a vest, I want to look big in a duvet. The problem is that big guns, bulging pecs and washboard abs vanish under a sweatshirt. To appear to be built you need to alter your silhouette and the muscles you need to develop, so it looks like you have been hewn from rock, is your upper back.
There is more to back training then pull-ups and pulldowns, even the rowing style movements don’t make up the full picture. It is my belief that to build a back wide enough to be used as a helicopter landing pad you need to do lots of very heavy static hold exercises. We all know that deadlifts are awesome and should be done by everyone as often as possible, but what a lot of people don’t realise is that they’re probably the best upperback exercise in the universe. You see unlike a lot of the body’s muscles the back muscles don’t need a massive ROM ( range of movement) to stimulate them, what they need is LOAD. The greater the load going through the body the more ALL the muscles in the back are asked to contract and nothing puts more stress through the body than squats and deadlifts.
Squats!? I hear you cry. For back!? Aren’t they supposed to be a leg exercise? Well, yeah, of course they work your legs, but trust me once those poundage’s start to creep up the upper and lower back muscles get murdered.

Here are my top 10 exercises for upper back mass.

  1. Deadlifts – in anyway, shape or form.
  2. Rack pulls – like deadlifts but pulling the bar from about 1 inch below the knee. Less ROM means more weight, which means a bigger back.
  3. Farmer’s walk – like a deadlift (notice a theme?) but once you take the ridiculously heavy weight off the ground you then run around with it.
  4. Front squat holds – load up more weight than you can front squat, unrack the bar and stand still for as long as possible. Unbelievably savage.
  5. Yoke carries – either use a proper strongman style yoke or just load up an olympic bar with a soul crushing weight, now go for a walk.
  6. Zercher squats or Zercher carries – you can use a stone, a bar or a special Zercher style bar. Cradle a weight in your arms and squat. Or walk. Or just stand there, sweating bullets.
  7. Kroc rows – like normal dumbell rows but use a massive weight and do stupidly high reps with loose form.
  8. Power cleans -and all variations.
  9. Power snatch – and all variations.
  10. Pushing and pulling heavy shit – prowlers, sleds, your Mum’s car, whatever.

This is what I did.

Farmers walk – 10 x 20 metres with 105kg
Rack pulls – sets of 5 reps building up to 180kg
Pulldowns – supersetted with TRX rows
Straight arm pulldowns – supersetted with TRX face pulls.

Yours with wings of an eagle,
Dave.

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