It is not an uncommon sight. As a matter of fact, I see it pretty regularly. The imaginary luggage-toting wannabe, with arms angled out at peculiar degrees, strutting amongst the normal folks like his shit don't stink. The vets of the game know that fella well, and shake their head in disappointment when they cross his path. Sure, he has some decent delts and his lats have a little flare and taper pretty nicely from a small waist. Shit, he even has some guns in that one size too small shirt. But something just ain't right with that boy. He's missing something so crucial to pulling off that freak look he so covets. That elusive element is thickness. When that cat turns to the side, he might get lost in the space between your eyes. He lacks thickness and thus looks weak and frail, instead of rugged and powerful
Thickness is that essential component of a bodybuilder's physique that only comes as a result of brutally hard, heavy and intense training. It is the visual factor that makes a physique look just as impressive from its profile as it does when observing it head on. The backbone of such thickness specific work comes on back day. There is an old gym adage that says, “You gotta row to grow.” It became training dogma because it is so true. The only way to build impressive thickness, to create crevices in your back that you could lose your car keys in, is to row big fucking weights, every back workout from a comprehensive selection of angles.
In espousing the many virtues of heavy rowing and how essential a practice it is to building a massive back, it would be a serious error to overlook and “underhype” the role of the deadlift in creating thickness. It is the most basic of all weight training movements: reach down, grab the loaded barbell and yank it off the ground. In the process blasting the lats, traps, rhomboids, rear delts and everything in between. So now you know what your calling demands of you, you hear your torture beckoning. Put the women and kiddies to bed. This could get fucking ugly.
Exercise 1: Barbell Rows
This is the old standby and one of the cornerstone bodybuilding movements. We're gonna bang these out Dorian style. You gotta assume a powerful stance, one that is lower back friendly and conducive to pulling some big ass weights. Knees bent, head up, torso at a 45 degree angle. Pull the bar into your training belt and contract hard with your elbows close to your sides. Lower the bar under control and repeat. We'll do four sets of these muthas performing 12, 10, 8 and 6 reps each.
Exercise 2: Dumbbell Rows
Keep the puke bucket on hand for this one, cuz you just might need it. Grab a big dumbbell and take a tripod stance-on both feet, leaning forward, using one arm for support. Keeping your back reasonably flat, lower the dumbbell to full extension and then pull explosively into your side-like starting a lawnmower. Be sure to focus on crimping all your back muscles together at the top of the movement. Perform three sets of these bad boys at 12, 10 and 8 reps per.
Exercise 3: Low Cable Rows
To finish off the row down, we'll use the staple of machine back movements, the low cable row. Selecting the narrow grip attachment, we'll really try to sear our lats and mid back, and leave those regions pulsing and spasming. With your back slightly arched and chest puffed out, slowly lower the weight, leaning forward slightly to stretch the lats. Then pull back forcefully but in a controlled fashion, bringing your shoulder blades together and emphasizing the contraction. We'll raise the rep range a little bit here to truly tax our back and to flush in as much nourishing blood as possible. Do three sets of 15, 12 and 10 reps respectively.
Exercise 4: Deadlifts
Just when you thought it couldn't get any harder, it's time to go to the well once more. To end back day on the most basic and grimy of notes, we're gonna do the nasty. Deadlifts executed in bodybuilding fashion-with a moderate bending of the knees, overhand grip, slight hyperextension at the top and maintaining tension by not letting the weight hit the ground. We will close this motherfucker out with three sets of deads for 12, 10 and one final ball busting set of 5 reps.
That is one for the ages. A hard to the core, dirty, grueling back day. A session you could one day look back on while you bullshit with the boys about how much of a badass you once were. Maybe this will be the most real you ever keep it. Then again, this might be just another Tuesday on the grind and may very well pale in comparison to the coming torture that looms over next week's back workout. You see, Animal, that is the great burden of the champion. The greatest challenge is not in overcoming the opponent, but instead in besting yourself, your inner demons, your best performance, your own winning form. It is a tough fight, you are beaten and weary, your head is spinning as the bell is rung. Will you come out fighting or stay slumped in the corner? The choice is yours.