A thick back is an icon of physicality.
It means that you are serious about training and not simply a show body with a glimpse of the summer month’s motivation. It takes time to build thick slabs of back muscle and even slower than its progress, is what you can see in the mirror.
The making of a big, freaky back produces real-world function and makes world champion bodybuilders.
Building the back of an adonis will command the respect of an elder statesman. An icon in the gym.
♦ Deadlifting is the foundation. Go heavy and low. Focus on proper form at all times and mentally focus on each rep. Visualize, setup, and go: think violence.
Here is a simple but effective 4-week template for deadlifting:
Week one: work up to a heavy 5 rep set in 4-5 sets, not including warm-up. On the last set of five, go for as many reps as possible without sacrificing form.
Week two: work up to a heavy 3 rep set in 4-5 sets, not including warm-up. On the last set of three, go for as many reps as possible without sacrificing form.
Week three: work up to a heavy single in 4-5 sets, not including warm-up.
Week four: No deadlifting or 6-8 reps in 4-5 sets with Trap Bar. Reps should be fast and easy. Repeat.
♦ Go wide with pull-ups. Nothing more is needed for a wide back than the old school pull-up.
Work up to multiple big sets of 10 plus pull-ups. Then, aim to get 100 reps per workout. Mix up grips using a wide overhand grip, neutral grip, and some underhand variations (chin-ups).
Each rep should be fast up, controlled down, no kip. Keep it strict to keep those lats firing.
Keep track of your sets and reps and aim to finish the 100 reps in fewer sets each week.
♦ The finisher, the secret sauce, and a painful realization: “Kroc Rows.”
It’s a secret because almost everybody does them wrong. Most paper-pushing, gym selfie enthusiasts are too technical with the dumbbell row. Each set should feel like your in a tugging match with a Silverback, otherwise, you’re doing it wrong.
— The dumbbell row that your fat personal trainer showed you is not a Kroc row.
— Kroc Rows are done for reps of 20-30 with as heavy a weight as possible. It’s not unseen for muscled behemoths to pull 200 plus pounds for 20 reps.
→ How to do them: grab the heaviest dumbbell that your little hands can muster, rest your non-working hand on a dumbbell rack or something of similar height (higher than a bench), lower the weight until to you feel a stretch in your lats and pull back up until the weight brushes your lower chest/upper abs, then continue for another 19-29 reps.
The form is “looser” then you may have been told, but one thing that cannot be overstated is a full range of motion: let your shoulders drop in the bottom and then forcefully pull back up while trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together. Keep pulling till the weight makes contact with your body to ensure full contraction.
WHO THE HELL IS KROC AND WHY DOES HE ROW SO MUCH?
One thing I’ve noticed while finishing with these rows is that my grip strength is through the roof. I used to peddle baby weight for 100-meter farmer walks but now I strut around with 100 or more pounds in each hand.
Measurable proof that these rows will not only keep your back growing but also keep you primed for other performance feats.
This article is part of a series where we take you from wimpy boy to greek god.