Showing posts with label Upper Back. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Upper Back. Show all posts
March 16, 2018

Trap Workouts

Trap Workouts - The Top 5 Trap Exercises

While many weight trainees, bodybuilder, fitness enthusiasts, and other gym goers focus a great deal of their attention on the lats, too many neglect to train and develop their traps to their fullest potential. When fully and properly developed, the trapezius muscles complete a
back exercises
physique, making it appear much thicker and more powerful. Here are the 5 best trap exercises for building the biggest upper back possible:

1. Deadlifts

Though it does not directly target the traps the way shrugs and rows do, the deadlift is the best overall trap builder there is. Take a look at any good powerlifter's or deadlifter's traps for evidence of this fact.

The immense loads that deadlifts allow you to use, coupled with the enormous stretch the movement places on the traps and upper back, cause it to seriously stimulate the traps. If you've ever done a set of deadlifts to absolute failure, you probably felt your traps practically screaming at you by the end.

Even if you don't "feel" your traps working in the deadlift, they almost certainly are. Though I feel them working my traps very well, several lifters I know report immense trapezius growth from the exercise, even though that particular muscle doesn't get sore.

The best way to build huge traps with the deadlift is to simply use the same heavy weights in the 4-6 rep range that you should already be using. Make sure to do some form of heavy deadlift every week, and watch your traps take off.

2. Barbell Shrugs

Though deadlifts are probably the best trap builder, barbell shrugs are certainly a close second. This movement is a favorite for extra traps work among bodybuilders and powerlifters alike, and it is one of the most tried and true overall muscle builders in existence.

Like the deadlift, barbell shrugs allow you to use very heavy loads. Though the range of motion is very small, this particular muscle group seems to respond extremely well to large loads and extreme stretches more than large ranges of motion.

The best way to perform shrugs for big traps is to use a strong set of straps and really load the barbell up. Don't get too carried away with weight, but also don't think you have to use super-strict form. A little jerking motion in the shrugs can be a great tool to get some very heavy weight moving and stretching your traps.
3. Barbell Rows

Though most people do barbell rows more for their lats and rhomboids, I have found these to also be one of my most productive trap exercises. The way I do them allows me to still use very heavy loads (though not as heavy as the deadlift or barbell shrug), and I have always felt them working my traps very hard.

The best way to perform barbell rows for trap development is to use a bend at the waist of about 45 degrees. Wear a belt and wrist straps if you have to, and row the weight to the bottom of your stomach. Use a little bit of jerking motion if you have to, but don't let the brunt of the stress shift away from your lats and traps.

4. Face Pulls

This is one of the most underrated movements, both for traps and upper back development, as well as for shoulder health. For the last couple of years, I have done at least a few sets of these at the end of nearly every workout, and my trap development has really taken off. I have also not had any real shoulder problems outside of the occasional little twinge.

This movement is essentially a row to the face or forehead. Connect a rope attachment to a high pully on a cable station, and row to your face. You can use either an overhand or underhand grip on the rope ends.

Unlike the last few movements, face pulls are best done for higher reps with moderate weight. You should really feel your traps and rear delts moving, and you should keep the movement slow and controlled.

5. Hang Cleans

Most bodybuilders and even powerlifters rarely do any form of cleans, but they can be one of the best trap builders in your weight lifting arsenal. The explosive nature and potential for heavy loads make this movement another of the best traps and upper back movements.

Fortunately, you do not need an Olypmic lifting coach to be able to get form on the hang clean. Just deadlift the weight up to the standing position to start. To perform the main movement, just jerk your upper body upwards, shrugging your shoulders as hard as possible while bringing your arms up to shoulder the bar.

March 14, 2018

Upper Back Exercises

Upper Back Exercises - What Most People Are Doing Wrong

Upper Back Exercises

The upper back region consists of the lats, the middle and lower traps and the rhomboids. In attempts to target these muscles, most people perform all kinds upper back exercises such as rowing movements and pull-up and pull-down exercises.

This is exactly what they should be doing; however, as they execute the upper back exercises, they're neglecting an important technique that will optimize the contraction of the targeted muscles.

As people perform rowing movements (perhaps the most popular of the upper back exercises), they tend to just whip the weight back without really focusing on the technique. This sloppy technique only makes it difficult to target the muscles that you're trying to isolate. Rather then just throwing the weight back, you should take your time, focus on feeling the muscle contraction and you should initiate the movement with what's known as a scapular retraction.

Essentially, retracting the scapula simply refers to drawing your shoulder blades together. By initiating your rowing movements with a scapula retraction, what you'll be doing is isolating the muscles of the upper back while minimizing the recruitment of the biceps. You see, when people simply jerk the weight around while performing upper back exercises, the biceps are heavily involved as they work to flex the arm.
You'll want to initiate all your upper back exercises with either a scapula retraction (rowing movements) or a scapula depression (pull-down movements). Without seeing images or video of the upper back exercises, you may have a hard time picturing the movement. Envision the dumbbell row exercise. You'd basically want to draw the dumbbell up as high as you can while keeping your arm straight. Realistically, this is only around 4-6 inches or so. Once you've brought the weight up as high as you can while keeping your arm straight, you would then flex your arm and bring it up towards your ribcage or hip (depending on what variation you're performing).

For upper back exercises such as pull-downs, the same concept applies. The only difference is rather then drawing the scapula back, you'd draw it downwards. To simplify, envision someone performing pull-downs. To properly perform this "shoulder depression" technique, they would initiate the movement by drawing the shoulders downwards while keeping the arms straight. Once they've gone as far down as they can (usually a couple inches), they would then flex the arms and draw the pull-down bar down towards their chin/chest area.

Simply applying these techniques to your upper back exercises will make a world of difference. You may find it awkward at first but after a couple workouts, you'll get used to it and will just become second nature.

December 10, 2016

Body Weight Exercise Tips - How to Do More Pullups

Pullups are the best overall upper body exercise to gain muscle mass in the upper back, biceps, and rear shoulders. A wide upper back is what gives a physique the much sought after V tapered look and can be quickly achieved by doing body weight exercises like pullups. If you struggle doing pullups check out these workout tips to get stronger and build your pullup strength fast.


What do I know about Pullups?

So why listen to me when it comes to pullups? I've been doing them for 25 years and found them to be superior for gaining upper body muscle and strength. When I graduated from Marine Corps bootcamp I did 55 pullups on the final physical test which was also because I didn't have an ounce of body fat adding extra weight to my frame. I can show you a thing or two about pull ups so take a look at a few simple workouts you can use to increase your strength.

Problem #1 - You can't do any pullups

If you can't do more than 1 pullup then you need to work on building your strength. It's not uncommon for men or women to not be able to do more than 1 pullup but it is easy to build from there. If you can do 1 pullup then we have a foundation we can start from.

Start off doing 10 sets of 1 rep on the pullup bar with about 60 seconds rest in between sets. Pull yourself up as quickly as you can and lower yourself down slowly with a 2 to 3 second count. This may not seem like you are doing much but you are in fact doing a strength workout and the back and arm muscles will adapt to this. You will need to do at least 10 sets of 1 and then each workout their will be a progression so log your workout. Writing down your workout is critical to success and consistent forward development.

During the 60 seconds of rest you aren't going to be resting. You are going to do a set of pushups in strict form. This is going to make sure there is a balance being built in the rotator cuffs. For every pushing exercise you do you should offset it with 1 pulling exercise. You could do the pushups in a separate workout but it is much more effective overall to use that time for a full upper body workout. So after you do your 1 pullup jump off the bar and do 5-10 pushups in strict form. Don't worry about doing more because you are going to do 10 sets total so the cumulative effect adds up quick and your chest will get a workout.

Phase II

As soon as you are strong enough to do 2 pullups start your workout doing sets of 2 reps and continue the workout doing sets of 1 rep until you have completed 15 sets. The goal is to achieve 3 sets of 10 reps. This may take a couple months depending on your diet, rest, and recovery but once you are at 3 sets of 10 you are ready for more advanced workouts and your strength will have skyrocketed.

There should be noticeable improvement of muscle built in the upper back and arms. Do this workout 3 times a week until you can the 3 sets of 10. If you have been doing this workout for 6 weeks but still can't do 3 sets of 10 reps you'll need to make some modifications to the workout because the body will start to go stale and progress will get slower so move on to phase 3.

Phase III

In this phase there will be a goal for total reps in the shortest amount of time. If you achieved the 3 sets of 10 goal you will now move on to a much loftier goal of doing 50 total reps. If you still didn't complete the 10 sets of 3 goal you will follow this same plan but your goal will be 40 total reps.

Do as many sets as it takes to get to 40 or 50 and rest about 2 minutes in between each set. Again you can do pushups in the rest phase keeping the supersets going. You might be able to do 8 or 9 reps for your first set but then you'll be only doing 5 or 6 reps per set. Keep adding them up until you hit 50 reps. Count to see how many sets it took you to get there and how much time.

The goal in each workout will be to decrease the total amount of sets it takes you to get to your goal of 40 or 50. After 3 weeks if you still haven't reached the target of 40 or 50 reps you will begin adding another intensifier. Instead of resting 2 minutes in between sets you will rest 90 seconds. It may take you more sets to get your workout done but that is o.k. because you are tricking the body to make it adapt and not go stale. You can setup a variety of exerise plans like this using the same foundation of boot camp workouts.

Meet the Goal!

Stick to this routine 3 days per week and the results will come. Make sure to take in some high quality protein right after your workout to assist in recovery of the muscles. I suggest whey protein because it digests very quickly and will go straight to the muscle. Then an hour later have another high quality protein meal consisting of lean proteins with some carbohydrates and healthy fats. Set some goals and be consistent and the gains will come.