Build a back that is big, strong and powerful with this heavy pulling workout

Most men think of two things when they look at their back training – width and thickness. These are fine goals, but don’t forget that by focusing on building up raw power and explosiveness, you’ll make it easier on yourself to achieve your mass goals. Not only will strength and explosiveness help you increase size, but these attributes will also add value for the performance of the big three – squats, bench presses and deadlifts.

You will have a hard time finding a back workout that releases more testosterone than the workout we are describing here. It starts with increasing your body weight with the help of wrist straps, so you have to be able to squeeze out those few extra repetitions to encourage more hypertrophy. Are you worried about your grip strength by making it easier for yourself with straps? Don’t worry about that. Pendlay rowing and heavy dumbbell rowing will take care of that. With the Pendlays (named after legendary Olympic strength coach Glenn Pendlay), brute force and explosiveness are required to get a dead weight off the floor, the latter is very good at activating fast muscle fibres that normally grow harder than slow (endurance) muscle fibres. Finally, there are the back extensions with weight to put the spinal erectors to work – because your back does not stop at your lats.

Pendlay rowing

This is actually largely bent-over barbell rowing from the floor, so keep your back straight and parallel to the floor when you pull the barbell up with maximum force. Bend your knees as required, pull the barbell toward the bottom of your sternum and bring it to a complete stop between each repetition.

Pull up with wrist straps

Grab a slightly wider grip than you normally would on the chin-up bar. Because the straps take some of the load off your hands and forearm muscles, you should be able to pull up easier with a wide grip. You should aim for at least two to three additional reps per set than you normally would without straps.

Back extension with weight

The goal is to build strength here too, but keep it on the light side if you’re not used to doing this exercise with extra weight. Keep it safe for your lower back. Start with a weight of 5 kg and only continue with 12 kg if the exercise feels too light.

Heavy rowing dumbbell

The goal here is to go heavy and do a lot of repetitions. Grab a relatively heavy dumbbell and pop out as many reps as you can. Feel free to take a rest break so you can do as many reps as you can. If you think you’re done, keep going. It should hurt, but in a good way. Brace yourself with your other hand and leave both feet on the floor. That is a challenge for your core.

The training: Back

*For every set, go to absolute muscle failure and as many repetitions as possible (at least 20, but preferably 30 or more). Choose a heavy dumbbell, but one that will allow you to do at least 20 reps before reaching the point of muscle failure. Take one or two breaks per set to increase the number of reps.