That was awesome.
My back work has slowly been improving. For the longest time anything I did for my back never really felt like I’d be working my back. Maybe here, maybe there, but I rarely would walk out of the gym feeling like my back was really worked hard (other than sometimes my lower back from squats or deadlifts). But slowly that’s been improving.
Lower the weights always helps. But really it’s been a revisiting and more dedicated application of muscle over movement. I’m not pulling, I’m not trying to move weight. I’m trying to contract muscle. And that contraction happens from the shoulder/scapula and/or the elbow. Let the shoulder go forward, be sure to really retract the scapula. I should feel and move from my back, from my elbows — do not feel it or try to move with the arms or hands.
And it’s generally been that way, but I’ll forget or drift or maybe first set is that way, but then I drift because I get more concerned about moving the weight and “getting the sets/reps in”. But today was really great because it was there the whole time.
The BB Rows, I’m liking this approach. Instead of just hitting straight sets, the work-up is good. I mean, BB Rows are the staple of back work, like bench press to chest and squats to legs. So why not work them up just the same way as I’m doing the others? It’s nice to get that heavier work, and the work-up is really helping me set the stage. First just simple warm-up, but it’s also allowing me to really reinforce the proper movements, to really move the shoulder and back and elbows and such. Get that retraction, etc.. That’s just a great mental thing for setting the stage. And the AMRAP+50% is proving to be nice; while I’m getting less volume perhaps than a straight set, by the end I’m feeling more worked.
The cable rows are becoming a favorite. I feel it so much with them. I get that 1-0-3-0 tempo sort of thing where it’s an “explosive/fast” concentric into a tight squeeze at the top, then a slow lowering and ensuring the shoulders go all the way forward so I get the most range for the scapular retraction on the next rep. But I really have to focus on that eccentric to have it come from the shoulders and NOT involve my arms/biceps. But man, this is growing to be a real worker for me.
The shrugs I continue to enjoy. I felt today, now that I’m getting a good groove with ligher weights, to start to ramp up the weight a little more.
Pulldowns I finally remembered to finish with a drop set. Don’t recall the specifics, but I took the 4th set to failure, then dropped 10# and got probably 2-3 reps, then another 10# drop and another 2-3 reps. That was all.
Finally, pullovers. This was an experiment. Last week I thought that maybe using a barbell might be better on my shoulders. So I grabbed a 30# barbell and tried. Every few reps I would change hand position: very narrow, medium, wide, just various things to fiddle around. The grip width didn’t matter so much, or at least as much as elbow position — both flaring or not AND the amount of bend in the elbows. Second set I tried using an EZ-Bar in case that put things in a slightly better position. It was marginally better but still it was all about the elbows. On the 3rd set, on a whim, I tried using a cable, laying down on the cable rows bench (which put me at a slight decline). That was a bust; it gave me more tension all the way through, but I didn’t get the stretch at the top of the movement, which is part of the point. So…. I dunno. I’m starting to feel like pullovers are going to be a bust. My shoulders can only take so much, and I’m not feeling much. But I’m not ready to give up yet; there’s still more exploration and adjustment.
All in all tho, today felt like how back work should be. Worked. 🙂
- Barbell Rows
- bar x 10
- 105 x 5
- 125 x 4
- 145 x 3
- 165 x 2
- 185 x 1
- 145 x 12 (AMRAP)
- 145 x 7 (50%)
- Cable Row
- 95 x 12
- 95 x 12
- 95 x 12
- 95 x 10
- Behind-the-back BB Shrugs (smith machine)
- 135 x 20
- 165 x 20
- 185 x 18
- 185 x 15
- 135 x 25
- Close-grip Pulldowns
- 110 x 10
- 110 x 10
- 110 x 10
- 110 x 9, then a couple drop sets
- whatever.. was experimenting. See above.