You know how everyone talks about the over fascination with the "mirror muscles"? What the fuck is that about?

I mean yeah I get it your chest, abs, bi's, tri's, and shoulders are the first thing you see when you stand in front of the bathroom mirror, but that doesn't mean there the only body part worth developing for performance or physique purposes.

Take for example the gluteal muscles which could arguably be called one of the best "show and go" muscles we have on our body.

It's a muscle that not only gives you the potential for incredible power, speed, force production, and injury reduction, but it's also a muscle that most of us like to admire on our significant others.

And yet it's a muscle you have to turn around to see in the mirror.

That right there should be enough to convince you that there are other muscles worth spending time on besides the ones visible from a straight on perspective.

The back is an area of the body which contain muscles that exactly fit this bill.

They hardly ever make an appearance that would force ourselves to take notice of them, but they are muscles that definitely deserve training time both because a strong, muscular back contribute to better performance in life and sports and look hawt to those we want to look hawt for.

x02aw

That being said in order to develop a strong, muscular back we need to find ways to introduce the three main drivers of hypertrophy (mechanical tension, metabolic stress, muscular damage) and give ourselves the opportunity for continues progressive overload.

This isn't always easy to do for the back as grip strength can become a limiting factor, especially for vertical pulling exercises, and for those of us to train in a more non-traditional setting we don't always have access to some of the more ideal equipment for training the back for hypertrophy.

However both of these things can be overcome.

The first by removing grip strength as a limiting factor by using straps.

And don't go all "hardcore" fitness police on me here.

Straps are great and have been used by a lot of strong and muscular people to develop incredible performance and physique.

Using them is no reflection on your grit or commitment. It's just training smart if your goal is to build your best back.

The second by creativity and smart program design.

This is where I'd like to help you out.

I want to give you one of my favorite supersets for stimulating muscle growth and greater strength in your back.

Because your lats are the largest muscles on your back they have the greatest potential for growth and strength.

But in my experience they are also a muscle that is difficult to overload, especially if you lack access to a pulley station.

That is why I love this superset so much.

It combines a compound exercise and an isolation exercise to target the lats.

The first exercise in the superset is a traditional pull-up. Below is a video of me demonstrating the exercise in its entirety.

Pull-Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71hsl8OfjAA

Things to focus on when performing this exercise  to maximize lat engagement and stimulate strength and growth:

  • Use a slightly wider than shoulder width grip.
  • Keep your upper spine slightly extended. Think rib cage up.
  • Think about pulling your elbows down and back as you rise.
  • Try to put your shoulder blades in your back pocket and squeeze the lats.
  • Be sure to allow yourself to come down in a slow controlled manner allowing your shoulder blades to rise.

The second exercise in the superset is a straight-arm lat pulldown performed with a band. This could also be done using a cable station if you want the ability to apply progressive overload to this exercise in a more systematic manner than simply using thicker bands. Although this shouldn't be a huge consideration since you are pre-fatiguing yourself with the pull-up which is the exercise that we want to focus our progressive overload efforts on. Also the band does confer the benefit of placing maximal band tension at the lat's most contracted position.

Below is a video of me demonstrating the exercise in it's entirety.

Band Straight Arm Lat Pulldown

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4jRxLGs8Ko

Things to focus on when performing this exercise  to maximize lat engagement and stimulate strength and growth:

  • Hinge your hips to allow for a greater range of motion and leverage over the band.
  • Think about squeezing your arm pits, and reaching for your butt as the band reaches the bottom of the motion.
  • Keep the front of your shoulder from tipping excessively forward.
  • Control the band on the return to the start position

What it looks like put together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXP3vXM-b_o

I'd recommend the following set and rep scheme

A1-> Pull Up x 5 reps @ bodyweight or more A2-> Band Straight Arm Lat Pulldown x 10 reps Perform 3 - 4 rounds with 60 seconds or less rest.

The great thing about this superset is that the pairing of a compound movement with an isolation movement acts like a mechanical drop set allowing you to continue training your lat after it's fatigued in the pull-up. You'll accumulate a lot of volume (metabolic stress), plenty of time under tension (mechanical tension), and create tissue disruption (muscular damage).

Give this superset a try the next time you hit back or the next time you train pull-ups.

You won't be disappointed!

Happy moving and heavy lifting!

Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training