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Fouad Abiad's Project Inferno Day 18:Back

I have a massage scheduled for my back tomorrow, so I want to train that muscle group before the massage. Normally, I don’t like to train my back the day after legs, but yesterday’s legs workout was a lighter quads session. Today, I feel strong and ready to train my back. The important point for you to take away from this is that you can re-jigger your workout schedule as your life dictates. Don’t force a workout when you’re not up to it, but take advantage of days when you feel stronger.

My first exercise today is seated cable rows using a straight or EZ-bar. That’s to allow for a wider grip. One reason for a wider grip is that I feel it really opens up my back, making it a good first exercise. Another reason is that these grips will work more on the width of the lats rather than on the center of the back, so you’re targeting outer lats with this exercise. Keep that in mind with every rep.

Next up is one-arm seated Hammer Strength rows. I like to put the seat quite a bit higher than most guys do so that I’m rowing the weight into my ribs to hit my lats. Placing the seat lower allows you to use more weight, but that position doesn’t work your lower back as well. Because this move is feeling really good to me today, I’m going to add two more sets.

Note that I also switch grips between these two variations. For the one-arm version, I used an upper inner grip that mimics dumbbell rows. Then for the two-arm variety, I went with a lower grip more like the one you use for a barbell row. Note that I also used wrist straps for the two-arm version. This isn’t because I can’t handle the weight, but because I want to emphasize pulling from my elbows. The straps allow me to worry less about my grip and really pull from the elbows and contract my back better. If you don’t have this machine at your gym, good alternatives for these two variations would be dumbbell rows and barbell rows.

Banded dumbbell pullovers are really unique because they make the top of the movement much more challenging. With regular dumbbell pullovers you essentially get a rest at the top of the rep. This version adds tension throughout the full rep. This exercise works the serratus muscles as well as the outer front sides of the lats. This improves the look of your back from the front, helping to create the appearance of a tighter waist. Also note that I have my head off the bench to allow my back to arch a little bit to really work the tie-ins all the way down to the waist. Finally, notice that I’m not using a super heavy weight for this move—the band provides plenty of tension and gives you a really good stretch.

Next up is Smith machine rows with an underhand grip and a rest-pause for each rep. This pause eliminates momentum and rocking of the body to make the lats do all the work. You don’t have to go very heavy, but keep the movement strict.

Finish up your back workout with assisted pullups. You can also perform regular pullups, but the assisted version allows you to force a deeper contraction into your lats at the top of each rep—also I’m too heavy at 270 pounds to perform a proper pullup. When most guys perform regular pullups they focus more on how many reps they can do rather the quality of each rep. The assisted form allows you to really feel the contraction at the top as well as the stretch as you lower yourself slowly.

 

Download the Workout

 

Morning cardio

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1

Perform 45 minutes before consuming food

 

Seated Cable Row 7 sets x 10-15 reps
One-arm Hammer Strength rows 6 sets x 10 reps
Two-arm Hammer Strength rows 2 sets x FAILURE
Banded Dumbbell Pullover 3 sets x 12 reps
SMITH MACHINE ROW 5 sets x 10 reps
ASSISTED PULLUP 3 sets x 12 reps

Post-workout cardio

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Perform 30 minutes immediately after weight-training or add this session later in the evening

 

TAKEAWAY:

I believe that both rowing and pulldown moves are necessary for completing your back, but I think rowing is better for creating a great back because it gives you more thickness and that bubbly look. When I’m having a really good back workout like this one, I go with more rowing than pulldown exercises.


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