Muscle Talk - By International Protein

How To Train Your Back

July 14, 2021 International Protein Season 4 Episode 10
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
How To Train Your Back
Chapters
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
How To Train Your Back
Jul 14, 2021 Season 4 Episode 10
International Protein

In this episode, we go through how to work out your back, in detail. 
It's an absolute must-listen for anyone who wants a big back.


  • Back muscles explained 
  • Different back exercises 
  • Mind muscle connection
  • Pause at the top


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we go through how to work out your back, in detail. 
It's an absolute must-listen for anyone who wants a big back.


  • Back muscles explained 
  • Different back exercises 
  • Mind muscle connection
  • Pause at the top


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Ash Horton:
Welcome to Muscle Talk, where you'll get well champion advice about nutrition and stacking on muscle. Our host, Christine Envall, she's a three-time world champion body builder and IFBB professional, a food scientist, and a founding co-owner of our podcast sponsor, International Protein.

Ash Horton:
In this episode, we go through how to work out your back in detail. It's an absolute must-listen for anyone who wants a big back.

Ash Horton:
All right, Christine. Today, I'd like to know how to train our backs. How does it work? This side of the gym, what's a good combination of exercises that you can get us started with?

Chris Envall:
Okay, I'm going to try to start really basic, because back is that muscle, because there's not one muscle. It's not like a bicep, where it's two heads, one muscle group. Quad, legs, obviously, four different muscles making up that leg, where back is so, so complicated. And again, it's a podcast, so it's very, very hard to really show this, but of course, if anyone wants to go look up the anatomy charts of their back, they should get one of those ones, which obviously shows the ones which they call the superficial muscles, so the ones that you will essentially see under the skin. For your super ripped bodybuilder, you'll see those main muscles, but then there's so many little muscles that sit under those muscles that you can't see, that are really, really important to the, I guess, the strength of the back, the function of the body, but from a bodybuilding point of view, aren't going to add a lot to what you actually see, not going to add a lot to the decoration because they're essentially hidden under the bigger muscles.

Chris Envall:
So in working at your program, for a bodybuilder, there's so many different exercises you can do because there's also variations of essentially the same thing. So you can end up doing three or four of essentially the same thing, but they're all slightly different, so they will work something a little bit different. But if you're looking at a really, really basic back workout, you essentially have the traps. So if people know that's attaching from your neck and it's like a big kite, goes out towards the shoulders, it gives those nice... When you look at someone from the front, you see the big lumps up around their neck, that's the traps. But the traps then also go all the way down, halfway down the back. And again, it depends on everyone, but it goes down to a point, narrower at the bottom, broader at the top. And up into the neck. So the trap is not just the big lump up the top of the neck. It goes all the way down into the back as well, so center part of the back, so that's the trap.

Ash Horton:
So, I didn't know that. I just thought that they were the glory neck muscles.

Chris Envall:
There is muscle, which actually makes up the center back called the rhomboid, but it's hidden. There's a little bit of it that shows through, but it's essentially hidden under the trap and it doesn't grow very thick. So a trap can grow big and thick, but that's hidden. And so it obviously gets worked on a lot of the same type of exercises because that's the thing with the back. Whilst there's so many different muscles, you can't isolate because that might be three different muscles that all go into doing the one movement, so you're going to get multiple muscles hit by the same movements. But the thing with the back is it's coming off of a shoulder joint, which is rotational. So you have 360, not really, but almost essentially, compared to a hinge joint, which has that 180 degree movement.

Chris Envall:
So your elbow, unless you're double jointed, only goes from being straight out to coming up to touch your shoulders, so that should be essentially a 180 degree movement, whereas that shoulder joint has got the 360, but then it can go up and down and it can do that in any plane. It can do that in front of you, beside you, anywhere in between, and then as far back as what you can take, that you can then go up and down, so parts of the back are coming off of that as well. So you've got so many different options for where you can actually put your arm and row and you're still going to hit your back muscles.

Chris Envall:
So that's where I think it becomes tricky as to what to do, but talk about the traps, basic, basic things, shrugs. So essentially that's, again, people might have to go google because it's very hard to describe, but you're either going to use a bar or dumbbells and basically raising your shoulders and squeezing your traps. People think, do you need to roll the shoulder or not roll the shoulder. Well, you don't need to roll the shoulder. You're just essentially concentrating the trap muscle, bringing the shoulders up towards the ears and back down again, so that's a good one. Upright rows also work the traps and then there's obviously various back machines that'll work the trap, so that's the one main muscle group that you'll see.

Chris Envall:
The lats is obviously the next main one, so it gives you the wings, the width, the V, gives you that amazing shape and another ones which you pull out on stage and there they are in all of their glory.

Chris Envall:
So, basic things like the pull down or a pull up, barbell row or any row is going to hit the lat. And now again, because of how it inserts up under the armpit there, you can have so many different angles that you could do that. So that's why pull down, front pull down, wide, narrow, they're all essentially pull downs and they're all going to put different emphasis on the lats.

Chris Envall:
The thing with a good back routine is that it's not a matter of doing a couple of exercises. It is one of those muscle groups where you'll find that you can be doing, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, so many different exercises to really, really hit it completely. But a lot of people will stick with basic things like a barbell row, a lat pull down, and some kind of shrug and that'll essentially cover majority of what they want to do, but it is quite a basic thing, or also a deadlift or a rack pull because they are going to bring in a lot of the back muscles.

Chris Envall:
So other key muscles that you see from the back, or as I said, the rhomboid, you see a little piece of it between the trap and the lat, but essentially, it's going from edge of the spine, cross that mid-back section and giving you a lot of your strength through there. So it's something that you need to work to stabilize the rest of your body. And that's something that's done in a rowing type movement, so arms, I guess, at shoulder height in a rowing straight back in, that's going to be working the rhomboids. Or the other part is to actually do a full movement, so don't just go halfway and if you come all the way back into a row and squeeze at the back, that's working the rhomboid. That final, final contraction point is what's doing it.

Chris Envall:
Another one, which is really good for the rhomboids, which I, to be quite honest, had never done this during training for many, many years, but I see a lot of people doing it. It's actually a good rehab movement. It's called a face pull and I had to look it up because I'm like, "What on earth is a face pull?" Yeah, it's essentially where you have a rope on a high cable. And you hold the rope in, I guess, you would say a hammer grip. And then you pull the, because obviously the rope's going to come apart, but you pull it towards your face.

Ash Horton:
So it's almost like a high row.

Chris Envall:
It's a high row. It's a very specific movement, because you're not going to be able to use a lot of weight on it. And when you do it, you really do feel it, say in the trap muscle, but then also it's under the trap muscle because that's where the rhomboid's sitting. But apparently, that's a good rehab move. I actually do it, but didn't know it was called a face pull.

Ash Horton:
So why's it good for rehab?

Chris Envall:
Because you're isolating those muscles and it's not something you use a lot of weight with, so nothing else is having to support it. So a lot of thing with a lot of rehab type movements are they're quite specific, isolated, and not using a lot of weight, so you can get in and just specifically target that particular movement.

Chris Envall:
And I'll actually talk about some of the ones that I've been doing myself to stabilize my shoulder joint, which involve stabilizing invisible back muscles, as I call them, so the ones that are hidden under that you can't see, that as a bodybuilder I've never really worried about. And they are very specific short movements and that's where a lot of this, and again, that's what a lot of the rehab is. A lot of movements are very, very specific, short, and as soon as you move out of that range, you're now working other muscles and that's why they're very targeted, so that's why it's good for rehab because you're isolating specifically that rhomboid part. The weight that you're putting through your lat isn't really a significant, so I guess it's not giving that an opportunity to tire out.

Ash Horton:
So why'd you call them face pulls?

Chris Envall:
Face pulls is what they are called. As I said, I had been doing them. I had no idea that's what they were called. That's just to me, yeah, a high rope pull, but yes, apparently, that's a face pull. But a lot of the things that we do at F45 using the TRX bands or the suspension trainer, and again, it's essentially like pulling yourself up in that lat pull movement, but when you do that, you really are keeping all those behind the body, like using those TRX separated bands is different to a bar. And a lot of that is all rhomboid movement so it's all about stability and that's again, functional and stability is what a lot of those types of exercises are, whereas a bodybuilder is looking at build mass, build thickness, build width, and do that to the superficial muscles, which is the traps and the lats.

Chris Envall:
And then of course the good old erectors, which is, again, majority of the erectors are hidden because they run down the side of the spine from top to bottom. But you're really only seeing the ones at the very bottom of the back where the left peels away and what's the left there. Different genetics, different people do have visible erectors higher up. If their lats are very, very short, you'll see some people that have the Christmas tree that goes a lot higher up. They don't have any more erectors than us. They, as people with lower lats, because they have a very, very low lat, it's just that more is visible because the way the back is, it's like layers on layers on layers, how that all works. With something like the erectors, that's where you got old hyper extensions, bench hyper extensions, good mornings.

Chris Envall:
Now, this is really interesting because when I first started training, good mornings were going out, as in people like, "Oh, don't do those. Don't do those because you'll hurt your back." But in fact, you need to do them because that's actually working your back. But it's almost like there was a phase through the '90s, where you stopped doing sit-ups. You stopped doing good mornings because everyone was freaking out that this was going to hurt your back.

Ash Horton:
So explain what a good morning is for people that don't know.

Chris Envall:
Okay, so you've put the bar across your back, upper traps as if you're going to do a squat. You keep your legs essentially straight, not locked out, but not bending, not bending like you're going to do a deadlift, and you lean forward. So it is a lot of stress on the back because obviously, the weight is a long way away from where you're bending. So obviously the further away from the hinge point, the more pressure goes on. So you're essentially just leaning forward, but you're holding weight on your back, but you're controlling the weight with your glutes and hamstrings and lower back. And then you're coming back up again and that's working specifically the lower back, but they were always a glute, hamstring, lower back exercise. So it's like the same movement that you're do on a hammer hyper extension, but the weight is on your back rather than no weight [crosstalk 00:11:49].

Ash Horton:
Then why were they dubbed good mornings, just because it's the first compound exercise that you do for the day, it wakes you up pretty quickly? Is that what we're saying?

Chris Envall:
Ash, I have no idea. I have another thing that comes to my head as to why it was a good morning, but let's leave that for the listeners to google.

Ash Horton:
It might offend an innocent hearer. It's unusual. Anyway, [crosstalk 00:12:16].

Chris Envall:
They just are called good mornings, so those are coming back. We do a lot of those in F45, but the trick is, you don't use a lot of weight. And we're also not using a belt, which is again, the intuitive thing of a body would be, "Okay to protect back, use belt." But in this instance, you want to get that work, get the erectors working, so you've got to be really tight on form, so no arc in the back. Tight on form, not super heavy weight, even just start doing it with no weight or start doing it potentially with the weight on your chest, like holding a light plate. And then that way, you're not putting, and select the maximum stressers when you're putting that bar across your shoulders, but not too much weight and you should be quite fine.

Ash Horton:
So what do you see people doing horribly wrong all the time?

Chris Envall:
What don't I see? The back is also probably the worst trained muscle group, so where will I start? Not using their back, that's probably the first thing I see people doing wrong. You think about any pulling movement, it involves the arms, so what do people use? They use the arms. So you think about a lat pull down, I see people pulling the bar with their arms, biceps, pulling it into themselves rather than pulling from the lats, which is a little bit of a knack to activate the lat. It takes a little bit of mind-muscle connection and it's essentially a slight rotation of the scapula to activate it, to bring it in, so-

Ash Horton:
And is that because people are pulling too much weigh? Should they drop it back and then-

Chris Envall:
It's too much weight but it's not always. It's an unfamiliar muscle group for people to connect with. I take for granted that we have that connection because I've done it for so long. But I remember when I first started doing back, I said to one of my friends who was training, he was a competitor. And I thought he knew a lot about what he was doing because he looked good. And I would say like, "I never get a pump in my back. I can get a pump everywhere else, but I can't get a pump in my back." And he said, "Well, it's because you're probably not using your back. You need to concentrate on it," so he made me aware. And I had been training for probably about nine months. So I thought I was training my back because I was pulling the bar down and I was going through the motion.

Chris Envall:
And it was him saying to me, "No, you have to think in your back and you have to pull from your back, not pull from your arms," because your automatic thing is to get the thing moving. Let's just pull it down, so you pull it down with your arm, but you're actually contracting your lat. You're rotating the scapula to activate and you should be able to say, put your arms up and just flex your lats, flex them up under your armpit. And it's until you get that connection, that it can be tricky to get, so-

Ash Horton:
It makes a lot of sense. And I bet a lot of people listening to this are getting it wrong.

Chris Envall:
Probably, but they will say, "Oh, but I feel it." But it's like, "But where?" And until you really do feel it in your back, you will feel it in your shoulder and you think you're feeling something. The best way to do it is to get someone to put their hand where you're supposed to be activating and focus on flexing where they're touching, so if they're touching up around your lat so that you know that that's where you're supposed to be doing it. And it does make it a lot easier when someone actually is connecting with you. Or do one armed, put your own hand there and feel where you're feeling, that you're contracting that. So that's number one thing, is that people don't actually activate the back.

Chris Envall:
The other one I see is a lot of the time, people don't do what I call full extension on a back movement. So again, if you're doing a lat pull down, you should not still have, I guess, like flection in your arms. So while you're not pulling from your arms, your arms need to go all the way straight to pull that lat right out. And if people do that half movement where they're letting it up and their arms are still potentially at 90 degrees, and then that pulling back down again, a lot of it will activate the trap, but you want to be using that for your lats, not your traps. And the thing with the trap though, is that it's so genetically different in how wide or narrow it is. Obviously, people with narrower traps do tend to pull more. They don't activate the lats as well because the trap pull seems to be tight and bunched up and they don't have a great back width and that's structurally just how their back is. And it's a lot harder to activate when the lats don't actually come out a long way because they just don't develop broad. It's such a genetic thing also, how they move. Some people's backs just don't move. It is what it is, whereas mine will float out, float in, float out, so it's really easy to feel them, potentially.

Chris Envall:
But that's two of the things I see people doing wrong, is short range of motion and obviously, using the arms. The other thing which is really good for back training is even just giving them that pause at the top. So sometimes people are up and straight back into it, and again, that comes down to the control of the movement. They can be letting it not controlling the negative in a back motion, letting it swing up and then pulling it back down again. And you need to have that nice, slow control, which is really pulling the lats out and coming back in.

Chris Envall:
Same deal on things like any row. A lot of the time people are doing it, and again, it's all shoulder and bicep and trap and upper back, whereas a row, it is for the trap, but remembering not necessarily the upper trap because the trap comes all the way down into your center back. And then of course, it's also for your lats because of the way that that attaches to your arm and you're moving it, pulling it into your body, pulling it over back into your body. So again, not leading from the elbows because if you're leading from the elbows, is generally going to mean that your back will come in. If you're leading, again, pulling from the hand in any motion, you're not going to be connecting with your back, so while-

Ash Horton:
So if you're pulling, only from the elbows.

Chris Envall:
Yeah, that makes it easier. If you relax your hand, imagine that you're not got any strength in your hand and you lead with your elbow, you'll feel your back connect a lot quicker.

Ash Horton:
Interesting.

Chris Envall:
Did you feel that?

Ash Horton:
I did.

Chris Envall:
I saw you're trying it, you did feel it. Yes.

Ash Horton:
Yeah, making little moments here.

Chris Envall:
Getting in and contracting there. Other things, obviously people arcing their back period, because with a lat pull down, again in the old days, we always got told, "Oh, sit in and an arch your back into a lat pull down," but you're actually supposed to have a straight spine, not an arced spine, to get the proper movement. And again, if you're doing any barbell row, you should be having a flat back. You shouldn't be humping, arcing either upwards or downwards.

Chris Envall:
And I see a lot of people with the curved back when they do a lot of back movement. Again, that's just poor form, lack of strength. Form is everything and it's laziness or just not having the strength to support, so people's backs arc over and get that hump in their back. So that's really bad form on a row, potentially going to hurt yourself with something like that.

Chris Envall:
What else do I see people doing wrong? That's probably the main things, is sloppy form with that hump in the back, using arms instead of the back to pull the movement, and either too quick or not giving a pause at the top of a lat pull down. And I guess the other one is not going to the full contraction, which is where you're contracting all those under muscles. So you might be doing a row, but you come halfway, but you think you've contracted, but you haven't squeezed all the way back. And again, it comes down to being able to feel your back and contracting it, but giving that little bit of a pause at the contraction as well as the extension, just to ensure that you've really got in there, so-

Ash Horton:
So for people to readjust, perhaps they've been doing it wrong, is it a good idea to... How to approach it, drop the weight, get it right, and then increase it again? Is that the right thing to do if they should reset?

Chris Envall:
If they think that they're not doing it quite properly, if you go to do the same weight that you have been doing, you're going to struggle and you're going to have to activate other muscles to do that. So sometimes it's better to just, say halve the weight and do it till you can feel it, whether you've got someone putting their hand on your back to make sure that you are actually activating the places that you want to, you need to get how it's supposed to feel and relearn the motion. And that's anything, regardless of whether it's back or any exercise, if you're doing it wrong, generally you need to go lighter to get form and then you can go back up from there and build that back up. But the back is something where-

Ash Horton:
So they need to back to basics and yes, that was a-

Chris Envall:
Oh, Ash.

Ash Horton:
That was a dad joke.

Chris Envall:
It was and you're not even a dad. I forgot to talk about a couple of other, really, really cool exercises, of course, which are things like your deadlifts, which are phenomenal back exercise, a bit of everything kind of an exercise. But obviously, they're working your erectors. They're working lats. They're working traps, everything because the way that you're having to move and support with your back and then you're coming back in and contracting it. Rack pulls are really good for your erectors, which is the half version of a deadlift there. Stiff-legged deadlifts, whilst they're also, I guess people will say, a safer version of a good morning, but a stiff-legged a deadlift obviously also works lower back and potentially the rest of your back because if you finish the motion with it with a contraction, which is essentially contracting your back and you're bringing the whole body in, so you're not just using glutes and hamstrings there.

Chris Envall:
What else did I have here? For the erectors, things like the bird dog, which is another good F45 one. This basically on all fours reaching out the opposite-

Ash Horton:
The bird dog.

Chris Envall:
Bird dog. I didn't know what it was called, but you're reaching out essentially, opposite arm and leg. And again, it's a lot of core work and it's going to be working a lot of these serratus muscles that wrap around the lower part of the back, and then obviously, the erectors. And because of the positioning of your arms perpendicular to your body, you'll be working a little bit of your teres major, minor. Well, there's so many bits and pieces in your back. It's quite fascinating with that.

Ash Horton:
Well, I'd like to know the implications if you don't train your back.

Chris Envall:
Okay, so a really, really interesting one around the lower back, and this is what made me start thinking around how good mornings have come back in.

Ash Horton:
Because a lot of people are going to neglect their back. I'm sure of it, right?

Chris Envall:
Well, even if they're training their back, if they're training it wrong, it's similar to neglecting it because you're going to be over strengthening other muscle groups, i.e. arms, shoulders, maybe just the upper part of your back, upper trap, neck muscles and neglecting the rest. So when we sit down all day at work or we're sedentary or we're lounging around on the couch or whatever, a lot of the time, you're actually stretching your erectors and overstretching them. And that's a really bad thing and that's why people get lower back pain. It's not because they're too tonight. It's because they got sloppy muscles, is essentially what it is.

Chris Envall:
So the training the erectors, and that's where those things like the bird dog, glute bridges, hyper extensions, the prone superman, which we didn't talk about either, that's basically laying face down arms and legs out and you arc yourself up in a banana shape so that only your stomach's touching the floor so that's working the lower back as well. So these are things which are not needing weights that people can do to strengthen their lower back. And that's really important for people who are sedentary, sitting at the desk all day, maybe don't have the best posture. Now, that impacts the entire back because also a lot of the time slouched around at the keyboard or even not slouch, but you're naturally rounded because to type at a keyboard, you're leaning forward, shoulders are forward. Nobody sits back, shoulders back, typing, looking like that. Nobody does that. Even if you're supposed to, it just doesn't happen. So the implications of not training your back is letting all of the muscles get loose and loose muscles is what a lot of aches and pains are caused by, not over tight, so that's the biggest implication.

Chris Envall:
And then if you are just doing normal movement, where maybe your chest gets a little bit more work or another body part gets a bit more work, you're going to create those imbalances. But weak muscles and overstretched muscles are generally a big problem with any pain and then that just causes inconvenience with everything that you do because it hurts. So strengthening your back obviously has a lot to do with the stability of everything, including shoulder joint, lower back, core, head, because the back muscles are obviously all connected to the neck. So having a good, strong back is going to help with just general posture and-

Ash Horton:
Quality of life.

Chris Envall:
Quality of life, exactly. But what I found really interesting, as I said, I've have a pain in my shoulder, which is not a problem with my shoulder. It's actually super tight pec minor and some tightness in my lats. But because I'm a bodybuilder and I worry about superficial muscles, I haven't ever really done anything specific to work, particularly the serratus anterior. So you think about serratus and the front, is what shows when you do the abs. You've got those little nodules up around the ribs and that just shows that you're super lean. Well, there's also serratus around the back and that has a lot to do with your shoulder stability.

Chris Envall:
So I've got a couple of exercises, very, very specific, that my physio has given me. Mine involves having a [biddy 00:26:27] bag around the arms, pushing my arms out, but keeping my elbows in and rolling the foam roller up the wall at above head height and that gets right in and strengthens that particular muscle. And then another one using a dumbbell, where it's keeping your arm bent, but not moving the elbow joint, but you're moving the shoulder joint to move the weight. And it's very small movement and it very specifically works up in the teres minor and the serratus muscles to help to keep the shoulder joint stable. It'll get worked on something else, but the other muscles will dominate and work harder because I'm sure that they're working in a lat pull down, but the bigger muscles are taking over. So that's the interesting thing, that there's some very specific exercises that you can do for different parts of your back that you can't see.

Ash Horton:
So obviously, we're talking about it and you paint a really, really good picture. Do you know of anybody on maybe YouTube or any videos or anything like that that has these techniques that are learnable, that are actually great?

Chris Envall:
For the little ones around the back?

Ash Horton:
Not specifically that you were just talking about, but I'm just talking in general.

Chris Envall:
Oh, in general. Well, I mean, Brandon Ray has a great Instagram and he loves his back training, so he has a lot of exercises where he specifically does talk about back. So if you're talking about the in the gym type exercises, he's got a lot of ones which are not necessarily conventional, but he'll also have a good written explanation and obviously, a visual on how you should be doing it. And he's also given me some really cool tips on back training, which we compared notes on and came up with the same conclusion that they were pretty good tips, which I'll go through now, if you want to.

Chris Envall:
He believes that for overall back training, he likes to hit it from five different angles, so that makes sense. Obviously, one for with arms above the head, which is your pull down or a chin up, which is obviously working the lat there.

Ash Horton:
Or and-

Chris Envall:
Oh, well, you can-

Ash Horton:
Can do both.

Chris Envall:
Well, It depends on how many exercise you want to do. I told you the funny story before, when he told me that he'd distilled it down to just five exercises and then promptly went to tell me the exercises. And four of the five were all super sets so it was actually nine different exercises, so that's how many different angles he's hitting it from. Now, when I used to train for competition, I'd do about seven for back and people thought I was nuts. Seven different exercises for back? You're crazy, but he does nine different angles to hit back. And like I said, back is his passion and developing his back has been a big thing. So there's that difference between you go from the extreme of maybe people who might do some deadlifts, some barbell rows, some lat pull downs and some shrugs, it's going to cover most things that you need.

Chris Envall:
So there's four basic movements that are going to cover majority of what you need, moving on to say, doing nine different exercises. And he actually does a lat pull down movement and a chin up movement, but not in same superset. So we're talking about and or, someone like me, it's a or movement because I don't often do chin-ups except at F45 when they're assisted with bands. Because body weight for my strength is a little bit different and I have my elbow and shoulder injuries, so the chin-ups are not my favorite. And a lot of people can't do chin-ups for that reason, unless they have the bands to support. So if they do, they're a great exercise, but if they don't then you've got your lat pull down but then you've got various forms of that, whether it be to the front, to the rear, close grip, narrow grip. All these things are working different angles but they're essentially pulling from above.

Chris Envall:
Then you have one where you've got your arms perpendicular to your body, which is a basic seated row type movement, where that's going to be obviously hitting a lot of your trap and those rhomboids underneath. One where your arms are down, which is like they're forward, but when you're bent over, it brings a totally different dimension to it. And that's your basic barbell rows or T-bar rows, which is working again, it's hard to isolate, but at the same time, you'll dominate with a particular muscle group. And that's a good lat one. And then he's saying then you need to do also a 45 degree from above and a 45 degree from below.

Chris Envall:
So that's where all your high rows, coming in from your hammer strength type equipment, where they're not above, they're essentially at a 45 degree angle, so between the 180 and 90. It's 135, but you get what I'm saying. If the arms are out in front of you moving up, it's a 45 degrees, so there's also high rows that you will find from hammer strength and I got a couple of different versions. I actually have about three. So you shouldn't be making your work up out of all of those three and nothing else, is essentially what we're getting at. So pick one of those or two, depending on what you like, and that's a different angle. And then obviously from below there's then the low rows that hammer strength created and that's why they created them because it's very hard to get your body into that position and stay in that position using a free weight. You can do it with a cable because you can do a low cable pull. And that essentially again, is a 45 degree to the body.

Chris Envall:
But then they're the five basic angles that he'll hit from that. But then as I said, he does nine different exercises and then variations of those. And of course, with all the different back machines around, because there's so many different back machines, different rowing machines, different angles, whether you do them two arm, one arm, it totally changes how the exercise feels, whether your body is supported, whether it's not supported, whether you're upright and then all the dumbbell versions.

Chris Envall:
Now in my little bit of research on this, to do a single arm version is obviously better because you can get that better contraction into the back or around into the lat, lower back. But I find if you're doing two arms together, it's good for hitting, say, upper back because you're just trying to pull it. You're not trying to pull in and then wrap around and change the angle of your arm.

Chris Envall:
Because that's the other variation that we didn't talk about, is that the rotation of your arm, you can do supinated and pronated, so hand up, head down, and move your arm throughout the movement, which is those type of tweaks that you can do in. So you add that on top of all of the rotational versions that you get through your shoulder range and then twist your arm. Sorry.

Chris Envall:
And then his other big tip, which I thought was quite interesting, was that he only does five to six reps on back, and his reason being was that he said the actual back muscles fatigue very quickly and the arms take over.

Ash Horton:
That's interesting.

Chris Envall:
So that's something that again, if people are struggling to keep form, but they want to move their weight up, then maybe only target that five to six reps and see how that goes because the next rep 7, 8, 9, 10 are actually working in different muscle group, so that was some cool tips there from Brandon.

Ash Horton:
So there's a lot of people still on lockdown that got to work out from home. How can they hit their back from home?

Chris Envall:
Depends what they've got. Obviously, if they have some kind of cable or strap and something to attach it to, you can pull from above, so you're going to get the above type of angle. If you have access to a barbell, then you can do barbell rows and you can do deadlifts on those. And you can do some really, really core, basic things or if you had a set of dumbbells, you can do some dumbbell rows. So it really, really depends on what equipment that you've got at home. If you have absolutely nothing, then a pushup is still going to help work your back because you're supporting in there. Maybe you can grab a suitcase or something that's heavy.

Chris Envall:
But I think with back, you do need to have a little bit of weight, so you are best to invest in a barbell at least, and some weights or a dumbbell set. And then you can do your core shrugs, barbell rows, and deadlifts, you'd be able to do with basically a barbell or a set of dumbbells as well, provided you have enough weight. All of the fancy back machines that I talk about that give you those extra angles, are things which came in much later, those things which have come in probably in the last 20, 30 years. People still were able to build backs using good old barbells and dumbbells and barbells. so you're not going to be at a total loss if you don't have access to too much at home.

Speaker 3:
Cool. Well, this is an absolute must lesson, next time someone's doing a back workout, just so they can listen. Especially those lat pulls, as you got into that information there. I know I'm going to do it. So look, thank you very much for the advice.

Chris Envall:
No worries. And just keep in mind that the back, it does take up essentially a quarter of your body, so it is a big muscle group and you do want to allow maybe a bit of extra time for that because it's very taxing to train back. Just my little end note there, that back as a big one.

Ash Horton:
Awesome. Thanks, Christine.

Chris Envall:
No worries, Ash.

Ash Horton:
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