Wednesday: Back and Traps

The sets listed in the workout below do not include warm-up sets.

Back Sets Reps *
Barbell Rows 2 4 to 6
“V”-Bar Pull-downs 2 4 to 6
Pull-Ups (add weight if needed) 2 4 to 6
Seated Cable Rows 1 4 to 6
(these are powerlifting style dead lifts)
2 4 to 6
Barbell Shrugs 1 4 to 6

* Remember, the weight you use should be light enough to do four reps, but heavy enough so you can’t do more than 6 reps. Each set should be done to positive failure.

Barbell Rows

are best performed on a bench to allow for a full stretch of the upper back muscles. This is an excellent back movement to add thickness and width. Keep your back straight and pull the weight to the bottom of your rib cage with your elbows in toward your sides. Lower the weight under control and stretch at the bottom.

“V”-Bar Pull-downs

are performed on a Lat Pull Down Machine. Use a V bar and pull the bar to just bellow your sternum. Lean back on the way down about 45 degrees. Stretch and flex at the top.


are a very effective back movement. Your grip should be about 6 inches wider than your shoulders. I do not recommend gripping a pull-up bar past the bends in the bar. A straight bar should be used. Gripping a bar at an angle puts too much stress on the AC joint and actually reduces the overload on the lats. The same goes for pull downs on a lat machine. Use a straight bar here as well. I’m not crazy about adding weight during pull-ups, but most of us have to. They are beginning to make some really effective bilateral machines now that simulate pull-ups very well. We have one in our performance center that is absolutely awesome.

Seated Cable Rows

are a great back exercise. They allow for excellent muscle contraction at the top of the movement and great stretch at the bottom. Pull the bar to just bellow your sternum and stick your chest out at the top of the movement. Do not lean back more than 15 degrees.

Stiff Leg DeadliftsDeadlifts

work the entire upper and lower back and hit your traps directly. Use a powerlifting style grip with one palm in and one palm out. Grip the bar about shoulder width. Straps can be used. Keep your back as straight as possible and the bar close to your body through the entire movement. With practice and proper technique a lot of weight can be used here. More weight – more muscle.

Barbell Shrugs

are a direct and very effective trap movement. Do not rotate your shoulders when you do shrugs. This does not make the movement more effective and invites serious shoulder injury. Lift straight up and lower the weight straight down. Just like its name – shrug. You can do these from the floor to add a bit of intensity and extra overload or you can do them off a rack. Straps can certainly be used here.

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