Body building upper back

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RobertB
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Body building upper back

Post by RobertB » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:24 am

Hi all,

Long story short, I want upper back hypertrophy.

I am still totally comitted to gaining compound strength via 5/3/1 - but as I have mission accomplished for my 2 years training (numbers wise) I am going to spend 3-5 months "playing" with aethetics and tweaking my proportions (I have thin arms for example - so am adding a fair amount of tricep/bicep isolation accessory)

When I look for a back routine on the net, I am flooded with far too much info, so I am coming to good old exrx to ask for help :)

This is my current back day, and strength wise, seems fine - but not so much on the hypertrophy
Deadlift 5/3/1
Pullups 5x max
Dumbell rows 4x25 (crappy light dumbells in my gym, but heard higher reps are decent for DB rows anyway)
Dumbell curls 5x10

The dumbell rows really helped my traps hypertrophy wise, and the deads will certainley be staying, probably the pullups too to be fair! but I'd like advice on two exercises to add to help with upper back definition/hypertrophy

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Dub
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Re: Body building upper back

Post by Dub » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:39 am

Barbell Rows? Dumbell rows are great also but if you can't really crank up the intensity, I'm not sure if it's the best exercise. Also you might want to try deadlifting with a wider grip (aka snatch grip). It works great on your back.
Pull-ups are awesome for strength and hypertrophy. Everyone should have pull-ups or chin-ups on their programs.
For what I've also tried straight-arm pulldowns are also very good on your lats.

For traps and scapular activity, face pulls, shrugs and high pulls?

Bret Contreras has actually made some experiments with back workouts. Check it out:
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... _exercises" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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RobertB
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Re: Body building upper back

Post by RobertB » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:09 am

mmm face pulls do seem to get a decent mention and I rarely do them - im off for a workout right now on back so ill throw them in for the time being - lots of reps. Thx dub.

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stuward
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Re: Body building upper back

Post by stuward » Tue Feb 07, 2012 9:40 am

How about cleans? Face pulls are good for shoulder health but they won't build your back.
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Re: Body building upper back

Post by robertscott » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:18 am

rear delt flyes

rear delt rows

also, I find my back responds really well to things like drop sets

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Re: Body building upper back

Post by RobertB » Tue Feb 07, 2012 11:35 am

Hmm

I do cleans but very low rep heavy weights - it was more to test my overall strength/measure my clean max just to satisfy my overall compound numbers - literally 3x1 or 3x3 once a week on squat day to get a big compound rush/feeling (and not that I am certain, but believe the combo of draining squats and firecracker cleans is a decent testosterone boost)
...Perhaps I should do a few weeks of 3x5-8?

Robertscott - I do rear delt flies on my shoulder days, and do normal dumbell rows not have a similar crossover with rear delt rows? I'll give the rear delt rows a try though, such a jungle of muscle up there I guess it is a safe bet that a direction/angle change will feel significantly different.

As for drop sets... Yea - I think my overall issue with back hypertrophy is volume - my dumbell rows are great and have had the biggest impact, and thats my only high volume back exercise (I guess around 50+ pullups a week can be classed as volume but its not quite 100...)

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Re: Body building upper back

Post by robertscott » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:01 pm

RobertB wrote:Hmm

I do cleans but very low rep heavy weights - it was more to test my overall strength/measure my clean max just to satisfy my overall compound numbers - literally 3x1 or 3x3 once a week on squat day to get a big compound rush/feeling (and not that I am certain, but believe the combo of draining squats and firecracker cleans is a decent testosterone boost)
...Perhaps I should do a few weeks of 3x5-8?

Robertscott - I do rear delt flies on my shoulder days, and do normal dumbell rows not have a similar crossover with rear delt rows? I'll give the rear delt rows a try though, such a jungle of muscle up there I guess it is a safe bet that a direction/angle change will feel significantly different.

As for drop sets... Yea - I think my overall issue with back hypertrophy is volume - my dumbell rows are great and have had the biggest impact, and thats my only high volume back exercise (I guess around 50+ pullups a week can be classed as volume but its not quite 100...)
rear delt rows have a very different feel to normal dumbell rows. Less lats, more rear delt (obviously) and upper back.

Do rear delt flyes on your back day as well as your shoulder day. Upper backs need volume, and lots of it.

Also, trying to build a big upper back from cleans is a waste of time in my opinion. You'll get some big traps but meh, I think you'd be much better off doing more rows.

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Re: Body building upper back

Post by stuward » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:19 pm

Cleans are mostly a power exercise so sets of 1-3 make sense. It's also a strength/mass exercise if you work in around 5 reps. Lots of programs treat it the same as other major exercises and do 3x5, 5x5, 5-3-1 etc. More than 5, I think that your power will drop, your bar speed will slow and the amount you can pull will suffer. I think the benefit comes from the heavy weight. In any case, you can blast it rows after you're finished with the cleans.

And Robert Scott is wrong about them being a waste of time.
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robertscott
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Re: Body building upper back

Post by robertscott » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:48 pm

stuward wrote: And Robert Scott is wrong about them being a waste of time.
Dem's fighting words Stu.

I respectfully disagree. I love cleans, and think they're a great addition to any program, but I don't believe that they're a good choice if you're going for upper back hypertrophy.

Rows, rows and more rows

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Re: Body building upper back

Post by RobertB » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:53 pm

I guess so - those two would help but quite focused on the delts then - traps with the normal rows, rhomboids? what about chest suported rear flies ?

Might give widegrip heavy lat pulldowns a go too - work towards grown folk pullups (will be easier when I drop 5-6lbs of fat!)

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Re: Body building upper back

Post by robertscott » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:02 pm

RobertB wrote:I guess so - those two would help but quite focused on the delts then - traps with the normal rows, rhomboids? what about chest suported rear flies ?

Might give widegrip heavy lat pulldowns a go too - work towards grown folk pullups (will be easier when I drop 5-6lbs of fat!)
na, they'll hit the delts heavily but also really hammer the rhomboids, mid/lower traps etc so don't worry about that. I do all my rear delt flyes lying face down on a bench set to a slight incline.

I would avoid the wide-grip, heavy lat pulldowns for a number of reasons. Firstly, wide grip pull downs are not superior than just medium width for building your lats, and are much harder on the shoulder joint. Secondly, I don't see the benefit of doing heavy weight, low reps to build lats. They respond MUCH better to higher volume.

If you want to build your lats, try this:

-Attach a tricep rope to cable machine.
-do 10 straight arm lat pulldowns with it
-kneel down, lean back and perform ten more reps
-lean forward and perform ten more reps
-lie on the ground clutching your lats and crying.

make sure you really flex the lats at the peak contraction. I mean REALLY squeeze them. That should do it

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JasonJones
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Re: Body building upper back

Post by JasonJones » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:35 pm

Lot of Roberts in this thread! Count me in: my middle name is Robert. Robfest?

On topic: I have to second the motion re: snatch grip deadlift for the upper back. I'm not known for my size — what with training for parkour and all — but I get more compliments on my upper back than anything else.

Notwithstanding that Poliquin said so :p

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Re: Body building upper back

Post by RobertB » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:31 am

Fair does Rscott (especially about heavy pulldowns, I kind of used the logic that it would increase my ability to do wider pullups, but you're right, we're after volume here)

My lats are aethestically good really - my body fat is a tad high so that may help their size but genetically I am fine in that area, but if I get time I will definately include your cable tricep rope - I will try it out regardless of if Im going to do it regularly anyway and will feedback.

To sum up we have *drum roll*
-More cleans (debatable but I do like cleans, no harm in making sure I get 3x3 in every week/maybe twice rather than randomly)
-Rear delt flies twice a week (back/shoulder day)
-Rear delt rows (tried these last night by the way, seem ok, suprizing how little weight is needed compared to a normal row, half the weight seemed fine!)
-Barbell rows
-Widegrip/snatchgrip deads
-Rscotts straight arm tricep rope cable pull adventure :)

Plenty to go at there.

Thanks

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