The following article is a BodyMaxing.com exclusive
I watched this video of Dorian Yates demonstrating how to properly execute some back exercises about 18 months ago and I can safely say it is the most useful video on back training I have seen. I used to struggle to get a good mind-muscle connection when training my lats but after incorporating some of the points Dorian recommends in the video in to my routine I could literally feel every rep. Watch the video and read below where I will summarize the key points.
- Pre-exhaust your lats. Dorian recommends using the Nautilus pull-over machine and doing 4 super strict sets of 10-12 to get some blood in to your lats. In my experience not many gyms seems to have the Nautilus machine nowadays so the best alternative would be straight arm cable pull overs – demonstrated here. The pre-exhaust sets are all about form so make sure not to use any momentum to move the weight, use slow 3 second negatives and contract your lats hard at the bottom of the movement. Doing this and getting some blood in to your lats before row and pull down movements will allow you to get a much better mind-muscle connection.
- Underhand grip is the best grip for pull downs. Period. I used to be under the impression that wide grip lat pull downs are the best for developing your lats. By the look of it I’m not alone as most people I see in the gym use wide grip for their pull downs. Underhand grip puts you in a stronger position so you can move more weight which is going to create extra thickness in the back over a period of time. It also allows for a larger range of motion, giving you more space to stretch at the top of the movement.
- Bent over rows should be completed with proper form. Dorian recommends adopting a slightly more upright stance than what is usually recommended when performing them. The higher stance puts your lower back and lats in a mechanically stronger position to pull, allowing you to use more weight. He recommends letting the barbell come to a dead hang at the bottom of each rep and arching your spine at the top as you contract your lats. Another tip – when you can no longer complete full ROM reps you can try using partial reps until failure.
- When performing one arm dumbbell rows, allow the weight come to a dead hang at the bottom of each rep and make sure to keep the pulling arm directly in line with the shoulder. As you bring the dumbbell up, pull it back slightly towards your waist rather than straight up – this will allow you to get a much better contraction in your lats at the top of the movement.
- Dorian recommends doing rack pulls rather than full range of motion dead lifts on back day. He says the lower portion of the dead lift is primarily a lower body movement, targeting your hamstrings and glutes. Stick to rack pulls taking the bar from around knee height, you will conserve energy this way compared to traditional dead lifts and be able to move more weight.
- Nautilus pull over machine or straight arm cable pull overs – 4 sets of 10-12 (3 second negative with each rep)
- Bent over barbell row – 4 sets – 12, 10, 8, 6 (pyramid up in weight with each set)
- Underhand grip lat pull downs – 4 sets – 12 reps
- 1 arm dumbbell row – 4 sets – 10 reps
- Rack pulls from the knee – 4 sets – 6 reps