Back Is The New Chest
A couple of weeks back I attended some seminars about kickin ass and takin names in this world of fitness. On Sunday I finally met one of my biggest influences, Jim “Smitty” Smith. His recommendation of high rep band pull aparts is why I started putting our #backisthenewchest on the Grams a couple of years back.
Since then, I have always loved training back. For one, I am pretty strong on my backside. Front side? Not so much (chicken legs and ridiculously long arms, thanks mom & dad). Plus, there is so much benefit from training those posterior (back) muscles when we spend most of our time hunched over at computers, phones, tablets.
Lately, I have been training back at a higher frequency. I find that there are so many angles, areas, and techniques when training back that it can handle higher volume. If I want to focus on upper back pulling one day and lower back extension another and maybe switch up horizontal and vertical pulls I have a lot of variables.
There is a lot of crossover so you still have to be careful when choosing exercises as not to overly stress anything, particularly the biceps. A good way to mitigate any bicep tendonitis is to limit this high frequency back phase to 4 weeks or less, with at least 4 weeks in between.
A great way to incorporate this into your own training would be to utilize in a 4-day upper/lower split. So we will split this up into 2 heavy days and 2 lighter/ higher rep days. On your heavy lower day we will focus on the front squat and romanian deadlift as our main movements. On our heavy upper day we will focus on barbell bench press and bent over row.
So a sample program might look like this:
Day 1/ Heavy Upper
1) BB Bench Press 3×5
2) BB Bent Over Row 3×5
3) Overhead BB Press 3×8
4) Weighted Pullups 3xAMAP
Day 2/ Heavy Lower
1) GHR or Hamstring Curl 3×10
2) Front Squat 3×6
3) RDL 3×6
4) Front Rack KB Walking Lunge 3×10/leg
Day 3/ Rep Upper
1) A) Incline DB Press 3×12
B) Bruno Rows 3×5
2) A) Plate Raise 3×10
B) Pullover 3×10
3) A) Pronated Incline DB Flyes 3×15
B) Prone DB Rear Delt Flyes 3×30
Day 4/ Strongman
1) Sled or car Push 3×50’
2) Sandbag Carry and Load 3×50’ to 48”
3) Sledgehammer Strikes 3×50
4) 0ptional: Gun Show
For week 2 I want you to keep all of the weights the same and increase from 3 to 4 sets per exercise. This will add in extra volume without an increase in weight. Week 3 the weights will go up but you will drop back down to 3 sets per exercise. Week 4 will be the same weights as week 3 but 4 sets per exercise.
The Strongman Day is technically a lower body day but will torch your entire back so I want you to keep that at 3 sets per exercise for the entire month. It would also be great if you can get a couple days rest after. A good program might be M/Tu/Th/Fr or M/W/F/Sa.
If you have a sled great. If not, have your training partner put your car in neutral and steer while you push. For the sandbag carry and load grab a heavy sandbag (or keg) and carry it 50’. At that point either put it on top of something 48” high or set a barbell in a rack and put the sandbag over it. Sledgehammer strikes to a tire are good for conditioning at the end of this day without beating you up.
This will be a pretty brutal month but will help increase both your back strength and size. I would definitely dial back the volume after this month is up to give your the posterior a good break. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes. As always, I post a lot of my training tip videos straight to instagram and my Facebook Page.