Workout of the Month: January 2017: “Back” After the Holidays

Intro

Your back is the largest group of working muscles in your upper body, so it only makes sense to prioritize their training. Point is, if you want to look muscular and in great shape, you will need a well developed back. There are two types of muscles on your back, true back muscles and appendicular. True back muscles are arranged close and parallel to your spine, and are important for mobility and stability during movements. While these muscles will not be addressed in this workout, they should not be ignored for optimal health. Appendicular back muscles have attachments to your arms, and are the muscles that you would work to grow and strengthen. These muscles vary by angle, size, and strength, and should be addressed in that manner.

 

Warm-up

  • Cardiovascular warm-up: 5-10 minutes: on a cardio machine (or jogging).I typically use an elliptical, because of the moderate upper body  involvement.
  • Resistance band internal/external rotation: 2×30 reps each direction: Focus on slow and controlled movements throughout your entire range of motion. int-and-ext-rot
  • Light warm-up sets: 1-2 sets x  6-10 reps: You should perform a light warm-up set for each exercise, despite how warmed up you feel. This will not only warm up certain parts of your back that have not been directly stimulated through other angles, and will also help to familiarize you to the specific movement.

Workout

I. Deadlift: 4 sets x 5-12 reps: 2-4minutes rests.

Set-up: You will need adequate room, a flat and firm surface, and a barbell. For a conventional deadlift the set-up is broken down as follows:

FEET: should be slightly narrower than a squat stance, so about hip-width. The bar should be directly above your mid-foot (remember the shoe lace its above for consistency), and toes pointed SLIGHTLY outward (10-15 degrees).

ARMS: Close to the outside of your knees, grab the bar with two overhand grips (over under can be used if experienced). Your arms should be locked, do not lift with bent elbows. Think of your arms as pulling ropes tied to the bar.

CHEST/HIPS/LOWER BACK: Chest should be up so that you could see it in the mirror. Lower back should be straight/neutral/flat. Hips should be at the height most ego-heads stop their half-rep squats at, do not go so low that you’re squatting your deadlifts.

KNEES: Your knees should be naturally set at this point, assuming you have properly aligned everything else. If not, they should be at a 115 degree or so bend.

HEAD: Head should be neutral, look at the floor about 2-3 feet in front of your toes.

Execution: Begin by contracting your core. Then, pushing through your legs like a leg press  to lift the bar off of the ground with straightened arms, and upward chest, and a lower back remaining in a neutral position. Once the bar reaches about knee height you may use your glutes and hamstrings with SOME assistance from your lower back to straighten up. Lowering the weight should be done with the same force in a pattern of hip bending before knee bending. You should properly set-up before moving to the next rep, this may take some time as a beginner, but will speed up with practice and repetition.

deadlift-pullTips:

  • Do not bounce the bar into the next rep, instead, reset properly.
  • Stay within your weight limit, push yourself only as hard as proper form allows.
  • Do not jerk or lean back to lockout, use your muscles and strict form to straighten upward and stand tall instead.

II. Close-grip Lat pulldown: 3 sets x 10-12 reps; 120s rests

Set-up: You will need a cable machine and a narrow grip handle. Set the leg pad to a height that will keep you snug and secured to the floor. Grab the handle with a firm grip, head narrow-handleshould be neutral, and chest should be slightly “inflated” in result from engaging your lats. Your body should be SLIGHTLY leaned back (look at example pic).

Execution: After contracting your core, pull the bar down until it reaches the peak of your upper chest. Aim for a strong muscular contraction/squeeze in your lat muscles, without excessive scapular retraction (shoulder blade pinching). Your elbows should be tight to the  side of your ribs, and your chest/upper back should still be upright with proper form. A controlled return should be almost half the speed as the pulldown with an emphasis on a controlled closed-grip-lat-pulldownlengthening of your lats. Stop just short of lockout to maintain tension on the muscles.

Tips: 

  • It helps to take a large inhalation of air to engage your lats on the return.
  • Momentum may be minimally implemented in a manner that doesn’t feel necessary to move the weight, but helps to create a rep rhythm or better contraction.

IIIa. Wide Grip Low Row: 3 sets x 10-12 reps; superset with next exercise.

Set-up: You will need a low cable pully designed for low rows and a neutral grip lat bar (see pic). You want to have your knees slightly bent, hips at about 90 degrees, and lower back neutral before beginning. I-2

 

Execution: Pull the bar to your body until you reach the point 1 inch in front and below your nipple line. The pulling motion should begin with your scapulae slightly retracting, then arm motion starting at your shoulders NOT your elbows. The bend at your elbow should be last, and created secondary by the shoulder motion. Aim for a tight contraction in your upper back at the area between both your shoulders and elbows.

wide-grip-low-row Your arms should be raised about 75 degrees from your sides (see picture), much like they would be for a push-up. The return should be controlled at half the speed, and stopped just short of lockout to maintain tension; repeat.

Tips:

  • If you feel your arms are doing most of the work, lower the weight and focus more on the order of pulling movement discussed in the execution.
  • I typically exaggerate the contraction of this exercise for 1-2s seconds.
  • Keep your chest erect and your elbows up, if you find they’re dropping, you should lower the weight.

IIIb. Incline Bench Reverse DB Fly: 3 sets x 10-12 reps; 120s rests.

Set-up: You will need an adjustable bench set 2-3 clicks below completely vertical, and a pair of DBs. I would suggest starting with 5-15lbs and working your way up from there, no matter your fitness level. You will straddle the bench backwards, with your head just above the top, and arms with a slight bend hanging straight down.

Execution: Raise your arms up and out to your side while maintaining the same bend at your elbows and keeping your palms facing downward. Upon contraction, your arms should be either directly out to your side or slightly in front of your shoulders. The contraction should be focused just slightly higher than the previous lift with a slight db-reverse-flyretraction of your shoulder blade. Control the return until just before the starting position; repeat.

Tips:

  • Unlike the low rows mentioned earlier, the motion should begin at your shoulders and end at your scapulae.
  • If your elbow angle increases or you fail to reach a good squeeze at the peak of the rep, the weight is too heavy, bro.
  • Do not expect to increase much in weight with this exercise. I have not seen clients increase more than 10-15lbs over their initial weight, no matter the starting fitness level.

 

STRETCH

The picture below has some recommend stretches to do following this back workout.

Do each stretch for 2-3 sets of 10-20 second holds.

Back stretches
Back stretches (click to enlarge)

 

Kyle Blair, BS Exercise Physiology, CPT, SPT

PRAY

God gave you another day, and another healthy workout.

 

 

Workout of The Week 3.21.16-Phull-body Gainz

 

INTRO

You may have read the title with confusion. You may have either thought I made a word up, or I felt like being cool by replacing an “F” with a “Ph”. Well, if you thought any of these things, you are correct. However, there is actually more to the word than that. I actually combined 3 different training styles into one word- power, hypertrophy, and full body. Can you tell me the absolutely unbreakable workout rule that says you can’t combine these into one workout? I’ll wait. While I’m not huge on extreme variation in training, I think an unconventional workout here and there can not only give the body a new stimuli, but can serve as a mental boost alike.

Power: The amount of work per unit of time. Basically, lifting with speed or velocity.

Hypertrophy: Lifting specifically for muscular growth.

Full-body: A workout in which you target every major body part.

 

WARM-UP

Cardiovascular machine- 5min-10min: I would suggest a bike on a moderate resistance, since peddling places a greater amount of focus on the quads/hamstrings. Do not go overboard, because you do not want to hinder your lifting performance.

Dynamic/mobility routine- 5-10 minutes: This routine should consist of multi-joint, large muscle group movements that favor/mimic that of the workout below. You should work on passive motions in the joints to a range of motion close to functional limits. Remember, this should be moderately intense, do not go overboard.

Light warm-up sets- 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps with very moderate weight. This will familiarize the movement, and bring blood to the lower body.

 

WORKING SETS

Barbell Back Squat: 5×3; 120s rest (power)

Set-up: This set up is just like a normal squat, but lighter. You want to aim for roughly 70% of the weight you would normally do for 3 reps. The idea is speed and explosiveness, not simply lifting the weight.

Execution: To perform this lift, I would suggest descending at a normal speed. Then, unlike normal squat speed, explode from the bottom-up. Form should be sound, as sloppy form and squatsspeed are a dangerous combination. I would suggest practicing with weight much lighter than maximum.

Tips: A good rule of thumb for weight is to vibe how “explosive” you move. If you can shoot up so quick that the barbell nearly (or actually) leaves your shoulders, than the weight is too light. Contrarily, if you feel you are moving slowly, or “sticking”, than the weight is too heavy.

 

DB Front Squats: 3×15; super-set with hamstring curl (hypertrophy)

Set-up: You will need a set of dumbbells, and some adequate room. You will begin by curling the dumbbells up until they rest at your chest, with your fingers facing your body. I would suggest flaring elbows forward so that the dumbbells lean on your chest, and not force you to feel as if you’re curling them.

Execution: You should perform a squat with more of a vertical posture. This is done by

DB front squat
DB front squat

keeping chest as upright as possible, leaning over less, and allowing knees to move over feet more than usual (this won’t destroy them lol). Think of this technique more as a front squat, than a back squat.

Tips: You may feel the tendency of a forward pulling at first. This is caused by too much leaning, and not enough kneed flexion. Also, try overcompensating the weight into your heels, it may help until form is corrected.

Hamstring Curl: 3×15; 60s rest (hypertrophy)

Set-up: This is not angle specific. Feel free to use a lying, seated, leaning, or standing leg curl machine.

Execution: While keeping your toes pulled back, curl your leg until you hit a tight

hamstring curl.jpg
hamstring curl

contraction in the hamstring. Then, descend in a much slower/controlled fashion.

Tips: Some momentum is normal and expected, however, if you feel yourself unconsciously arching your back or swinging the weight, lighten the load. Basically, drop the ego, and lift to grow.

Bench Press: 5×3; 120s rest (power)

Set-up: You will need a barbell bench press, and a spotter. Much like the squat earlier, only add weight you can manage to move quickly.

Execution: Lower the bar in a normal motion until touching chest, then explode upward.

bench press.jpg
Bench press

You should lockout to reset. Repeat.

Tips: Much like the squat earlier, the bar should move quickly, but not so much that you almost dislocate your shoulder.

 

DB Fly + Neutral Press: 3×12; 60s rest (hypertrophy)

Set-up: You will need a flat or incline bench. You will also need a set of dumbbells you can do 8 reps or so on chest fly with.

Execution:

Part 1: Begin the lift with a DB Chest fly. Fingers facing each other, and arms slig-

chest fly
Part 1

htly bent as if you were going to hug a wide tree. Descend in a controlled fashion, focusing on a deep stretch in the chest. Then, rise towards the mid-line, stopping just before lockout. Perform this for 6 reps.

 

 

Part 2: Without stopping, switch into a press of the same style ( fingers still facing each other). Perform 6 of these as well.

Hammer-Grip-Decline-Bench-Press
Part 2 (notice greater elbow bend)

Tips: Basically do 6 of each, for a continuous total of 12.

 

Rack-pull From Knees: 5×3; 120s rest (power)

Set-up: You will need a squat rack, a barbell, and a cross bar (safety catch). You should set the height of the cross bar to just below or at your knees. You should use weight roughly 80% of your dead lift amount. Remember, explosive and speedy.

Execution: Begin by placing your shins/knees as closely to the bar as possible, and gripping it about shoulder width. Your lower back should be neutral, and your chest upright. Your chore should be tight and rigid. Place some tension on your straightened arms, and feet.

rack pull.jpg
rack pull from knees

Then, using your hips, stand up straight; much like a dead lift. As you raise, the bar should remain as tight to the body as possible.

Tips: This is one of the most common “ego-lifts” there are. Don’t let it consume you, instead, lift what you can. Do not use a tap-and-go method- reset. Instead, the movements should be quick, and your form should be as perfect as possible.

 

DB Reverse Fly: 3×15- 60s rest (hypertrophy)

Set-up: You may do on fly machine, with dumbbells, or cable machine; each have their own feel and benefit. Just make sure your spine and head remain neutral, can cause nerve pinching if not.

Execution: As mentioned, keep back/ neck neutral. While keeping elbows almost, but not completely locked out, open arms out from side until a contraction of your upper back and shoulders stop the movement. The movement should be controlled, as this is a technique needed isolation lift, rather than a heavy weight type.

DB Reverse Fly
DB Reverse Fly

Tips: Mentally chase the burn while doing this movement, which will take practice. If hands are prone, the movement will target post deltoids and traps. If hands are neutral, the upper back will be targeted more; experiment with both.

 

 

 

DB lateral raise: 3×15; 60 rest (hypertrophy)

Set-up: You will need a pair of dumbbells, and an arms-length amount of room.

Execution: While keeping elbows slightly bent, and shoulders depressed (not shrugged), raise your arms out from the sides of your body. Your elbows should always be higher than

lateral raise.jpg
Lateral raise

your hands.

Tips: If you feel you are shrugging, the weight is too heavy. If you uncontrollably bend your elbows, the weight is too heavy. If your hands rise before your elbow, the weight is too heavy.

 

Oh-F@!%s: 2×40 reps; 120s rest. (hypertrophy)

Set-up: You will need an EZ-bar, and a flat bench.I would suggest getting weight you can curl and/or do skull crushers for 20 reps with.

Execution (4 parts immediately in a row):

Part 1: Its a reverse grip (fingers facing forehead) skull crusher. I would suggest gripping the bar shoulder width, at a position is you can fully wrap your hand around. You should not reach failure, or struggle. – 10 reps

Part 2: It’s a normal E-Z bar curl. Stand up, and curl the bar with the exact same grip. You should not reach failure or struggle. – 10 reps

Part 3: A normal skull crusher (fingers facing away from forehead). While keeping elbows tight, perform a proper skull crusher. You may reach failure or just before at the last rep of this phase.– 10 reps

Part 4: It’s a reverse grip curl (palms down). You should curl in a reverse fashion. Make sure to keep wrists neutral, and elbows forward. – 10 reps

oh fuck

 

Tips: Keep the weight more modest than not. I would suggest a partner’s help. Buckle up for some burning. These should make you say “oh-f#$%” when you have to do them- hence the name.

 

This concludes the Phull-body workout. I would suggest taking a rest day following this workout.

 

STRETCH

The picture below has some recommend stretches to do following this workout. Both upper and lower should be performed.

Do each stretch for 2-3 sets of 10-20 second holds.

Back stretches
Upper body stretches
Legs, Groin & Hips Stretches 001
Lower body stretches

PRAY

God gave you another day, and another healthy workout.

 

Kyle Blair, BS Exercise Physiology, CPT