Training your back is different from any other body part. First of all, you really can’t see what the fuck is going on and, secondly, it is hard as hell to even feel any sort of pump in your lats. With these two things a given, it’s no wonder why people commonly make mistakes when it comes to back training.
Here are five of them that we want to spotlight:
1. NOT GOING HEAVY ENOUGH
Being such a large muscle, the lats can and should take a good pounding every time you train them. Do not pussy out on back day and you should make this one of those days where you include an additional set where you go heavier for a power movement. Don’t skip a legit working set for reps for it, but throw in an extra low-rep set with a little more iron on each side.
2. PERFORMING ROWS ON A PULL DOWN MACHINE
Rows are rows and lat pull downs are lat pull downs. They are two different exercises that hit different parts of your back and both are good for gains. So when you are using a pull down machine, keep your back straight up and bring the handle– regardless if it’s of the wide or tight variety, overhand or underhand grip – down to your sternum.
When you lean all the way back and bring the handle or bar down, you are performing a rowing movement and hitting your lower back. The pull downs will hit your middle and upper back muscles more.
3. LEANING BACKWARD & FORWARD ON A SEATED ROWING MOVEMENT
It may seem as if you are getting the ultimate stretch by doing so, but leaning back and then all the way forward during a rowing movement is actually counter-productive. What you are really doing is cutting down your range of motion and bringing your arms into the equation, taking a lot of the emphasis off your back.
What you want to do is sit straight up with an arch in your lower back, bring the handle into your lower sternum/top abs and try and squeeze your back muscles together. If you’re leaning back, this is impossible, so use that as a reminder to keep the form strict for the first half of the rep.
Then when you are performing the negative portion, keep you back straight and just allow your arms to extend fully towards the weight stack. You can allow your shoulders to roll forward so that you do get a nice stretch, but don’t lean into it.
4. NOT INCLUDING DEADLIFTS AND/OR BENT OVER ROWS
Both should be part of your weekly repertoire, but you are merely going through the motions if you skip deads and bent over rows. These are two of the best compound movements that can be done and both work your back, so how the fuck can you ignore them? Deadlifts are great for overall strength and power besides working your lower back (and hamstrings if you do them stiffed leg) and bent over rows is the gateway exercise to having a kick ass lat spread.
5. TOO MANY GODDAMN MACHINES
It can become habitual to sit on one station and do two or three back exercises, but stop being lazy and move your ass over to the dumbbell rack and barbells. You need to use free weights more than stacks or even Hammer Strength machines for back and try to at least split it down the middle at worst.