Total Bodybuilding Size & Strength Plan....
This article is taken from an actual email received in October of 2009 from Scott L. - Its the full workout detail form the question of the month from the February issue of our Bodybuilding Section E-Zine. No cuts straight reprint with Scott's permission.
Arguably the best back ever built in bodybuilding!!
Having looked over your pics, your back does need to be thicker along the middle and lower section. Also you could stand to build more of your lower lats. The routine that you gave to us seemed way to machine driven and didn't include enough free weight exercises. Machine are okay but building thickness requires a more ballistic effort and that can only be achieved with free weights. The off season routine list 5 exercises that when done as we describe will bring you the thickness that you desire. Choose 3 exercises each workout and perform 1 warmup set and 4 working set of each exercise increasing weight each set until maximum weight for 8 hard reps is achieved. Thats 4 set of 12-8 reps. The On season exercise are for when your contest prep begins. Yeah we know your saying where are all the isolation exercises that you see in magazines, you know like one arm incline DB rows, or straight arm pulldowns(that crap seems to a popular one these days - Its just a cheap standing pullover, lying DB pullover do it better!) leave that crap to those that want to add tiny lumps to their back instead of quality mass. Pick yourself 4 out of the six exercises and perform 4 set of between 15 - 12 reps with increasing weight.
Off Season Routine Exercises:
Power Deadlifts: Just like the name says, these are power deadlifts. No wrist straps just chalk your damn hands and pull the bar. No Sumo Style lifting is allowed either! Feet should be slighty wider than shoulder width, dip your ass as low as possible, keeping your back flat and arched up toward a spot on the wall, ceiling or where ever you choose pull the weight off the floor until upright. Do this for a least 5-6 reps at the lowest for 3 solid sets. Do yourself 2 warm up set of 10 reps. Yeah I know we said 1 warmup set 12 - 8 reps blah blah blah. This your foundation exercise for jump starting growth from your spinal column outward. Work this bitch hard!!!!
Under Hand Close Grip Chins: We said chins not pulldowns. There is a distinct difference between chins and pulldowns. Pulldowns don't build mounds of muscle, they sculpt what you already have. Thats why you see all these people doing pulldowns and they have know back muscle to be seen anywhere. Get your self and under hand grip like if you were going to do a close grip curl on a barbell, about 12 - 14 inches apart. We recommend you use wrist straps on these to take your mind off your grip as you perform the exercise. Also put a little chalk on the chining bar for a secure grip, because most chinning bars we have seen across the country are in serious need of so good old fashion knurling. Once your strapped in lower your self into a hanging position and relax for 1 second or 2 than begin pulling your self up toward the bar. As you are pulling upward slowly arch backward and try touching the bar to your mid to lower chest, keeping your arms tight to your torso and squeezing the muscles of your mid to lower back. Lower your self under control back to the starting position and repeat 3 sets of 10 - 12 reps. Us a spotter if you have to but complete the desired set and reps. As you become stronger you may need to add more resistance using a dipping belt to keep your reps in the desired range
Two Arm Dumbbell Rows: These are just like barbell rows but your doing them with dumbbells so we can work the lowerlats and lower back at the same time. No wussy weights please! What every you use on barbell rows you should be able to strat with at least 50% of that with these. Get a good stretch and contraction on these and DO NOT STAND UP LIKE MOST PEOPLE DO DURING DB ROWS. If you can look in the mirror and can see your lower chest down to your waist your doing shrigs and not a row! You see this all the time in magazines and people copy this shit and wonder why their lats are high and they have no lower lats. Its because your doing the exercise WRONG! Your tors should never get higher than 35° or lower than 25°. If you can't hold this form your using to much weight! Pull both dumbbell simultanousely toward your abdomin and squeeze, lower to your starting position and repeat for the desired number of reps. Bang out 4 set of 8 - 12 reps with increasing weight each set.
Barbell T-Bar Rows: If you have seen the Old Ronnie Coleman video from 1999 than you know what kind of T-Bar row we are talking about here. We're talking put the bar in the corner, load up another end with 4 or 5 45Lb plates, slide a block underneath the bar and hook a handle the bar and start pulling. Follow the same principles as DB Rows and keep your head up back flat at about 35°'s. Wear a belt because these can get pretty heavy. You can cheat on these to get a few extra reps but do it under control, and with good exercise form. Get 8 - 10 reps for 3 sets.
Up Side Down V-Bar Cable Rows: These are cable rows but we are going to turn the handle upside down. If the handle at you gym for cable rows has a slight V shape when hooked right side up, we want you to flip it over so now the V is pointing down ward. Also if possible the cable has an adjusting wheel, place the wheel at its lowest point. B doing these simple things you place the direct emphasis of your cable rows toward your lower lats and lower back and middle back. Pull each rep toward your belly button and squeeze for a 1 or 2 count before lower and repeating for 3 sets of 8-12 reps. Don't get sloppy with these and allow momentum to take over, perform each rep with deliberate effort and not momentum.
On Season Routine:
Straight Bar Chins: These are bread and butter for your on season program. When performed correctly nothing build wide lats from top to bottom, unfortunately most people either shorten the movement, place their hand to wide, don't stretch to the bottom, or many other strange things. I once saw a guy doing something that looked like an inch worm climbing up a pole when he was supposed to be doing chins.
Proper chinning technique is not that hard it just takes allot of effort, but the struggle is worth the pay off. First thing is to find a straight bar, not that crap with the angled ends. This kind of bar takes away from stressing the lower lats. Now that you have the right bar, reach your hands straight up. With your hands on the bar move each hand out another 2 - 3 inches this is your chining grip. Now that we got our grip strap your self in (Oh Yeah You Will Need Strap!). Now lower yourself as low as your can go - hang for one second before beginning your pull. Now this is the point that separates a back workout from a bicep workout. Your goal is to pull the top of your chest toward the bar, not your chin as some would have you believe. This causes you to naturally arch your back, thus activating the entire back from top to bottom. Pulling in this manner makes you use your back to complete the movement. Your arms will only get you to your forehead, and aren't much use in pulling the scapula's in the back together which you need to do to finish. There you go you have done one chin, now you need to return to the bottom and do it again for a total of 4 sets of 10-15 reps. Add weight if you need to but more time than not BWT is quite sufficient.
Dumbbell Pullovers: Cross bench Dumbbell Pullover are next on our agenda. We are still working on the meat of the lats but now we are going to start ting in the intercostal along with the upper lats. If you are not used to this movement or have never done any form of pullover before have a spotter ready.
To begin with we are going to do cross-bench pullover with a dumbbell. This means instead of laying length wise on a regular flat bench we will be laying cross wis with our body weight on our shoulders with head hanging over the other side of the bench. Lying on the bench extend your hands upward as if doing a bench press and adjust your body so that your shoulder, trap and upper back are supporting your body weight and your neck and head are free of pressure. Now with your body positioned and your hands extended, your partner should hand you a dumbbell so that the weight is right above your chest. your hands should be flat against the dumbbell side with both thumbs and fingers around the handle securely. Bend your elbows slightly to relieve elbow pressure, slowly lower the in a semicircular motion behind your head keep your arms straight. As the weight is lowered take a breath and hold it. As the dumbbell pass behind your head you should begin to feel a deep stretch in your chest, lats and lower lats. As you loose site of the dumbbell begin to pull it back over your chest to complete the rep. Now repeat for 3 set of 10 -12 reps. Won't be easy after the chins, but who said hardcore was easy!
Barbell Bent Rows: Most people and mags will have every one believe that bent rows are only an off season exercise and that when contest time roll around you need cables and pulleys to get the details that win contest. Details doesn't mean shit without the mass and muscle thickness to go with it. Bent Rows give you that detail along with the mass and thickness to dominate back poses.
Barbell Rows for the on season can be done either regular grip or curl grip but the exercise execution is the same. Unlike the 2 previous exercises these will be pyramid up in weight for all 3 sets after an initial warmup set. Just like when doing Straight Bar Chins reach down to the bar with your normal hand spacing and adjust out 2 - 3 inches on each side. Strap your self to the bar using your straps to better secure your grip and to let you focus on the movement rather than if your grip is going to hold out or not. Now stand erect with the weight a your waist. Bend over until your upper torso is at 50° angle. This is not the 75°+ crap you see in magazines and on some videos, that way to high to activate all your back muscles - this craps works mostly traps and rhomboids of the upper back. Just look at the guys doing it this way - nuff said. Without to aggressive of a swing pull to bar into your lower abdomen around your navel and not the lower chest. This is a real barbell row, it can be and should be felt all the way up your back from your traps to your spinal erectors. Repeat this fro 3 set of 10 -12 reps of ever increasing weight(do not go so heavy that you loose control of the weight and can't feel or squeeze at the top of the rep, if so your weight is to heavy).
Rear Pulldowns (Straight Bar): These are the carvers of those deep crevices that turn heads when you hit that back double biceps shot. These also tighten you the rear delt lats tie-ins that are important to building a championship award winning back. These to will be done old school style with straight bar handle, no angle grip allowed.
Find your self a good pulldown machine, adjust the seat to comfortable position and attach your bar. These to will be done in pyramid style so one warmup set is required. Use this warmup set to correct your form an get the exercise right. Far to many time you go into the gym and see some one doing Rear Pulldowns and they are ducking their head and rounding their back at the completion of the movement and that stuff should not happen. Your torso should be upright with the back arched and the head up, and you shouldn't have to turn around on the machine to accomplish this as the mags show. Now sit in the machine and adjust the seat until your abdomen is against the pad and you thighs are hold you steading. Now stand and grasp the bar the same as if doing chins, now sit down into the seat. Arch your chest forward and begin your pull as if doing rear double biceps pose but continue to pull down until you touch the bar to the base of your neck and squeeze. Hey look the bar went behind your head and you didn't have to duck your head or round your back to achieve a perfect rep. Now that your proud of yourself complete your warmup and do 3 sets of 12 - 15 reps with increasing weight (do not go so heavy that you loose control of the weight and can't feel or squeeze at the bottom of the rep, if so your weight is to heavy).
Romanian Deadlifts: Why are we using Romain Deadlift instead of just regular deadlifts, it because Romanian Deadlifts are the type of deadlifting most performed by Olympic lifters and these guys have some of the thickest spinal erectors in all of sports so it can't be a coincidence. Romanian Deadlift also don't increase waist size that most bodybuilders are concerned about.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and grab a barbell from either a squat rack or from the floor. Your hands should have an overhand grip at shoulder-width apart, as well. With the barbell in your hands, slightly bend your knees while pushing your chest out, keeping your shoulders back and tightening your abdomen. Your back should also maintain a slight arch from this point. Bend forward from the hips and push them back as your waist becomes parallel to the ground. Keep the barbell in slight contact to your body to avoid straining your lower back. The barbell should slide down your thighs to the top of your feet. Stop when the barbell is almost at the top of your feet. At this point, you will feel the stretch in your hamstrings. Return to starting position by following with your hips and tightening the gluteus maximus and hamstrings. You have completed 1 repetition. Complete 8 to 10 repetitions for 4 sets.
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