3. STRAIGHT-ARM PULLDOWN
Although the straight-arm pulldown is a single-joint exercise, it’s a pretty effective move that was a favorite of powerlifting bench-press world-record-holder Doug Young, the training advisor of Arnold Schwarzenegger during his early career, who included 6 sets of it in every upper-body workout. And according to the Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, legendary bodybuilder Dorian Yates used straight-arm pulldowns to develop those phenomenal lats.
You will rarely see this move in commercial gyms today, but those in the know rely on it to add back width.
The really great thing about this exercise is that it takes the biceps out. Biceps endurance is often a limiting factor during a back workout, so by removing the biceps from the equation you can better isolate your lats and work them intensely. You can perform it with a lat bar or rope attachment on a cable station. Choose a weight that’s around your 20-rep max and go for as many reps as possible for one minute straight at a controlled pace, focusing on range of motion and muscle contraction.
Most importantly, keep your torso slightly inclined to better target your lats and perform the negative portion of each rep slowly (5-second count) and under maximum control.
4. NEUTRAL-GRIP PULL-UP
Every bodybuilder knows that the benefits of pull-ups are huge: they play an irreplaceable role in building strong lats, traps, shouldes and arms. Neutral-grip pull-ups are slightly easier to perform than wide, overhand pull-ups because they place your arms in a stronger position and allow you to complete more reps; and since there is less strain on your arm muscles, your biceps won’t limit your movement and you’ll be able to target your back more effectively.
Also, this pull-up variant places less strain on the wrists, elbows and shoulders than the overhand or underhand version.
To perform them, you’ll need a pull-up bar that has neutral or parallel grip handles that put your hands in a neutral position with your palms facing each other. Start from an arms-extended position and maintaining tension in your lats and shoulders, pull your chin over the bar by driving your elbows down, then sower your body to the starting position. To increase the tension on the back muscles even further, pause for a second in the dead hang position at the bottom of your pull-up.
For best results, perform these pull-ups in cluster sets: do 3 reps, rest for 15 seconds. Repeat this for four minutes straight. Up the intensity by making sure the eccentric portion of the each rep lasts 5 seconds.
For maximum gains, perform these four back blasters as described in consecutive order, but don’t forget that muscles grow with the help of adequate rest and nutrition. Pre-workout and post-workout nutrition plays an important role in building a huge, impressive back, so in order to prime your muscles for growth you need to consume whey protein both before and after you train.
Additionally, since you’ll be brutalizing your back with tough workouts, you’ll have to get enough rest to recover and grow and avoid catabolism. Make sure your workouts don’t last more than 60 minutes and don’t train your back more than twice per week.