We all know the big basic compound movements. Squats, deadlifts, bench press, overhead press. Most of us can do them quite well. We all know our loved isolation lifts. Lateral raises, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns.
It is important, both in the real world and the world of bodybuilding, to open up your narrow mind and give new methods and strategies a try. There’s hundreds of ways of stimulating all the muscles on your back, and eventhough a barbell row hits most of them, depending on your body’s anatomy it might be possible isolation exercises hit the muscles more effectively, giving you a better squeeze and pump and increasing your gains.
The following exercises are exactly that, proven and tried ways to use your gym equipment in new ways to stimulate new growth. You can incorporate them on your normal back day, use them for a pump-back-day you newly integrated into your routine or even replace other exercises that don’t feel right.
The first group of exercise we want to learn about are performed on the rowing machine. The usual suspects most people perform are the close grip cable row, or some supinated rows. If you never really got a good pump out of a regular cable row, try using a rope attachment on the cable. You grip the ropes at the end tightly, sit in an upright position and move your elbows to your body as far as it is comfortable. The ropes will allow you a more natural movement, and increasing your range of motion. Done with light weight and focused form, this exercise gives an amazing pump to your lower lats and rhomboids.
Another great variation for the lower lats is using an ez-bar attachment on the cable row. Sit on the bench, preferably put 1-2 plates under your glutes, and grab the ends of the ez bar. Squeeze your elbows in a vertical motion close to your body and feel your lower lats burn.
Continuing with the back, there is a great superset targeting your upper and lower traps. The two pieces of equipment you need are either a smith machine or a long barbell (preferably the smith machine) and a small barbell. Use light weight on both barbells and prepare beforehand. The first exercise we perform in this superset is a barbell row that is slightly more upright with a very wide grip, giving you a muscle contration throughout your whole traps. Performed on a smith machine this exercise will surprise most people, as they simply never get that much stimulation out of a regular barbell row. Follow immediately with the second exercise. Lift the barbell above your head, and perform a behind the neck-press. Instead of going all the way up and down, you focus on moving the weight solely with your upper traps. After practising this exercise a few times you will feel immense burn in your upper traps. Repeat the superset 3 times, and try to use 10-15 reps on each exercise.
To be continued…