Building barn door lats is the goal of every bodybuilder. If you’re a competitive bodybuilder, then you already know that shows are won from the back and if you can’t block out the lights when you roll into a lat spread, then you’re going to be relegated to the sidelines when the trophies are handed out. Achieving the all important mind to muscle connection with the musculature of your back doesn’t come easy for everyone. Some will say it’s because you can’t visibly see the muscles working in the mirror when you train them while others say it’s the result of just simply not being taught how to properly execute the movements. My personal opinion is that for beginners, the truth lies somewhere in the middle of those two reasons. The fact of the matter is, it takes a long time to build a really great back, even when you’re doing everything right. So, while you continue your “row to grow” approach, here are three awesome tips for you to employ when training your back.
Tip #1: Go with a False Grip
When you are working with maximum poundages, the first thing you want to ensure is that you can hold onto the weight you’re using. I know that seems like it should go without saying, but because of this many will use a standard thumbs around the bottom of the bar grip. When training back, I think it’s a better idea to go with a false grip where you place your thumbs on top of the bar. Reason being is that it seems when you eliminate the thumbs from your grip, you also lessen the amount of help you get from your biceps in the pulling movement and more emphasis is given to your lats. One of the most common problems I hear from people when they train their backs is that they feel it a lot in their biceps. Once their grip is adjusted to a false grip, that seems to decrease that feeling quite substantially.
Tip #2: Drive with your Elbows
This part of the execution in all back exercises cannot be stressed enough; to hit the lats you have to drive the weight up hard and lead with your elbows. To help you do this, try to make yourself think that there is a rope attached to the back of your elbows just below your triceps, almost like you’re a marionette. Then just before you’re about the pull the weight into your body, think about those ropes being pulled first and your arms moving back elbows first. If you can do this, you’ll forget about flexing the elbow joint during the movement and your rows will look like rows versus a type of drag curl that you can do for biceps.
Tip #3: Focus on Form First and the Weight will come
You have to ensure that the exercises you choose to include in your programs are done with perfect form for you and your biomechanics. Far too often people concern themselves with the amount of weight they are using versus how they are using the weights and their form suffers which in turn causes their gains to suffer. Make sure you are correctly setting up in the movement and then maintaining it throughout the duration of the set. Once you’ve mastered that with a certain weight, then increase the loads you’re using. You’ll quickly see that by doing this, you’ll start making gains at a much better rate.
As a bonus tip here for you, you can’t neglect the fact that when performing free standing back exercises such as the bent over row or the dead lift, which happen to be the best for building mass, you have to have a solid base beneath you to really maximize the effectiveness of the exercises. Sure, you can go barefoot or in your socks to do this, but why do that when you can wear shoes that have been developed to support this very need. Heyday Footwear’s The Max High Top Bodybuilding Sneaker gives you tremendous support, offers a flat sole that allows you to grip firmly to the floor and looks way better than those dirty gym socks your standing there in. Grab a pair now and get your back growing to barn door proportions!
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.