For some reason back training is an enigma that is hard to understand. Some of the forms that have been witnessed make it difficult to wonder how these back-training buffs can start a lawnmower without throwing the spine out of alignment. The trainees are also equally confusing when you actually see the exercises that they perform in order to gain upper back strength and muscles. There are seven upper-back exercises that can make up the core of upper back training.
1. Sternum chin-ups
Vince Gironda made this exercise movement most popular. The exercise involves leaning back throughout the whole duration. Using a supinated or either pronated grip, depending on your shoulder width, you pull yourself to the bar as you lean your head back as far as possible; keep your spine arched throughout this movement. The hips and legs should remain at a 45-degree angle to the floor. Continue pulling until your collarbone and your sternum touches the bar. Your head should be parallel to the floor by the time you have completed the concentric portion of the movement.
This move is considered to be the king of compound movements, so don’t be surprised if you’ve never actually seen this done before. The sternum chin-ups are a great workout for the lats and the scapulae retractors. The start of this movement is a classical chin move, and the middle movement is similar to a pullover motion, while the last position is a duplication of a rowing movement.
Advanced trainees use this sole move as a part of their back routine; the stronger trainees find this an easy move to accomplish. This is also a great move for women!
2. Narrow parallel-grip chin-ups
The semi-supinated grip is the strongest elbow flexion grip that gives you a mechanical advantage. V-handle chin-up stations are available in most gyms; they are set 6 to 8 inches apart.
Bringing your lower sternum to the handles, while pulling yourself up as you lean back, is the main focus of this particular chin-up. The grip is narrow; therefore the fibers of your latissimus are largely recruited in this exercise.
3. Subscapularis pull-ups
Start out in the position of the wide-grip pull up and pull yourself up until your upper pecs are in contact with the chin-up bar. The technique of this chin-up is similar to the other modes, except you push yourself away from the bar and lower yourself under control. When you put your subscapularis muscles under this control you are destined to be in great pain for the next three days to follow. This movement provides structural balance.
4. Seated rope cable rows to neck
Seated cables rows to the neck help balance equation. There are often times where trainees spend most of their time working on their chest, rather than their backs; this exercise will help balance it all out.
Adjust your pulley right in front of your pecs, with a rope in order to reduce stress on your forearms and wrist. Grabbing the ends of the rope, begin the exercise with your shoulders protracted and the forearms extended. Retract your shoulder blades and bend your elbows until your forearms make contact with your upper arms.
Keep your back perpendicular to the floor throughout the entire exercise.
5. One-armed eccentric chin-ups
This exercise is preferably done with a chin/dip unit made by Cybex or Atlantis. The various machines that are utilized for this exercise will determine whether you will be supported by your knees or your feet. The motion of the exercise begins with pulling your weight up with both arms, pausing, and then slowly transferring the weight to the non-dominant arm. Lower yourself, using control, until the lats and elbow flexors are fully stretched. Repeat this process until you reach muscle failure; can’t go on any longer.
Starting this exercise should be done in 8 to 10 seconds per rep, at a slower pace when lowering. If you cannot slowly decline, you have reached your eccentric muscle failure. While completing this exercise if you are experiencing discomfort at the bottom range of motion, or the hanging position, this is a warning that you may want to consult a shoulder specialist; your shoulder mechanics should be evaluated.
6. One-armed arc dumbbell rows
This is a modified version of the standard one-armed dumbbell rows, due to the trajectory of the weight. It is best to reduce the weight by two thirds. You will bring the dumbbell to your hip. The lats will perform a shoulder extension movement; the elbows should be extended as high as possible over your hip. The range or motion, while performing this movement, is crucial.
7. Strive machine rows
Strive is a workout machine that overloads the range of motion in three different segments. The handles on this machine removes stress on the elbows, wrists, and forearms. Using the pronated grip, with your arms parallel to the ground, complete 6 to 8 reps for the most effective result. You will switch to the semi-supinated grip once you’ve reached concentric failure. You will also complete another 6 to 8 reps with this grip, as well.