Are you chasing that wide ‘gorilla back’ or wanting to walk around with ‘wings’ aka BIG Lats but wondering where you’re going wrong?
Here are 5 quick tips that will make a massive difference to your training and help you see results in a matter of months.
Are you actually contracting your lats and can you fully activate them whilst training? One of our biggest musculo-skeletal issues is internal rotation of the shoulder. Whether it’s from sitting on your laptop for too long or the way you sit whilst driving your car – this internal rotation pulls your lat forward causing undue tightness within the lat and Pec. From this position you will struggle to activate the lat in training and to achieve a fully shortened position (e.g. driving the elbow in towards your hip in a single arm seated row). This shortened position is so important for muscle development as it is your weakest position.
So, a quick change that will make a massive difference here… get a lacrosse ball and work it through your lats and Pecs. You can do this by lying on the ball and slowly moving it around the local area to release the muscles. Add a few dynamic stretches into your training routines and some static stretches when you wake up in the morning and you will start to notice a real difference in your training.
On most of your back exercises you should be in a ‘proud chest’ position with thoracic extension. This will allow you to pull through the lat rather than extending through the lower back and lumbar (which most people do and will place more load through your traps and upper back). Keep everything locked; the moment you let your shoulders elevate again you will be taking the load away from the lat. Keep your shoulders pinned down towards the floor to minimise upper trap recruitment and maximize lat recruitment.
If I want to grow a muscle I’m not going to train it just once a week. Look at it this way, if I do train it once a week that’s 52 times a year, versus training it 2-3 times a week which will give me 104-156 sessions a year. This added frequency will massively increase the likelihood and opportunity of growth. Match that with adequate recovery and targeted nutrition and you’re on your way to a whole new back.
So by now, you’re fully mobile through the spine, you’re able to contract your lats and maintain a thoracic extension, you’re killing it technique wise, you’re hitting your lats multiple times a week, and your nutrition protocal is bang on. So what’s next?
Now is the time to start upping and pushing the load. Progressive overload is King when it comes to physique development so make sure this is part of a clear plan. Make note of what you do in each session and next time you’re training make sure you beat what you did last time. Do this consistently over 3 months and you will see your back change and develop.
5) Big Lifts
I see a lot of people doing cable work (standing cable row, cable pullover etc.) and of course these exercises have their place but the main aim for your training session should be to challenge yourself with tougher and more demanding exercises. Dumbbell or barbell bent over rows, rack pulls, heavy seated rows, and pull down machines will allow you to lock in and add more weight.
Follow these five tips and watch your back grow!
This post was written by Nottingham personal trainer Danny Fox. To see and hear more from Danny, you can find him over @
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