Today we will be discussing why having a JACKED Gorilla back will help you smash more weight. The Gorilla is the King of the Jungle, and since the weightroom is kind of like the jungle, a jacked back should help make you King, or Queen of the Iron Jungle. Too corny? Sorry, I write for magazines and they love this stuff.

Anyway, you back is the lynch pin of all of your lifts. It is involved heavily in the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift, and I’ll explain why, and give you some of my favorite accessory lifts to make it look like a Silverback.

First off, your back is part of your trunk. Your trunk stabilizes your body, it allows you to transfer force to the bar and that is required to move big weights. And after all, we want to move big weights don’t we? Your back is comprised of a bunch of large and small muscles, here’s the major players:

  • Traps
  • Lats
  • Rhomboids
  • Erectors

Smaller Players:

  • Levator Scap
  • Teres (Major/Minor)
  • External/Internal Oblique (not really back, but they are there)

There are more muscles running around back there but these are the A List one. Let’s BRIEFLY review what your back is doing in each lift. Squat: Murph Squat Total PErformance Sports The back is heavily involved in stabilization while you squat, as well as keeping you upright. It also assists in movement, although it should be primarily a stabilizer. The Major Players are the lats, rhomboids and erectors. Engaging the muscles properly does a few things:

  • Keeps you upright/prevents dumping forward
  • Keeps your hips from shooting up first
  • Holds the bar in place
  • Allows more force transfer into the bar, equaling more weight lifted

Bench Press: The Science Behind the Bench Press The Major Players are the lats, traps and rhomboids. Engaging the muscles properly does a few things:

  • Stabilizes the bar on the descent
  • Provides the base that you will press from
  • Acts like a spring when you press (totally unscientific description)
  • Locks your shoulders back and in place
  • Assists in controlling bar path
  • AND:
  • The bigger your traps and rhomboids are, the shorter your stroke is.
  • The shorter your stroke is, the more you can lift.
  • Science.

One more reason to get jacked. Deadlift: THE Guide to Handling Lifters at the Meet The Major Players are the entire back, really, the whole thing. Your back is a major component of a big and well executed Deadlift. Not in the way many think. It is not a mover although many use it to move the weight. Lift with your legs, stabilize and control positions with your back. Engaging the muscles in your back properly does a lot:

  • The erectors protect your spine by aiding in a strong brace
  • The erectors prevent your hips from shooting up first
  • The lats and traps keep your back flat, along with the erectors
  • The lats/rhomboids help you to keep your arms long

I can go on for days, but I said we will briefly review. Hopefully you get the idea.

Now, here are a few of my favorite exercises to build your back.

Overall Back Work: We all know the basics, rows, rows rows. Get Down with the Thickness. Bodybuilders used to say that rows built thickness and pulldowns/pullups built width. I am pretty sure they were correct. Barbell rows and dumbell rows are my go to exercises for this, but any rows will do. For width, pullups are my go to. I love them. I do a lot of them. Weighted and unweighted. Low reps, high reps, and always full range. No stupid kipping either. Pulldowns are great too. Here is a tip I only give to my exclusive and private clients, OK, who am I shitting, I’ll tell whoever asks: Your shoulder blade position dictates what part of your back is doing the most work when you row.

  • Shoulder blades pulled high=traps
  • Shoulder blades neutral=rhomboids/mid back
  • Shoulder blades pulled down=lats

Don’t believe me? Stand up right now. Put your arms out straight in front of you and pull your shoulder blades up high, now squeeze them together. Where did you feel it? Now do it for the other two. You’re welcome. Now, let’s get to each lift and some of my favorites to assist them. Squats: Back Raises. 45 Degree Back Raises Hatfield Back Raises Arched Back Good Mornings Keystone Deadlifts All of these hammer your erectors. They are simple, not easy. I like simple. Bench Press: Clean Pulls from high blocks Shrugs-I prefer dumbells because I like to spread my collar bones apart when I shrug. Try it. It has a totally different feel than a barbell and smokes your traps and mid back. For the bench press, in addition to a metric shit ton of dumbell rows, I like Chest Supported Rows done on a machine performed as follows: Lock your shoulders back as hard as you can as you would when setting up on the bench. Keep them there. Do your rows without letting the lats/rhomboids come out of the locked back position. This is a very humbling exercise as it limits the amount of weight you can use quite a bit. I’ve also got a few I love for extra work, active rest, or between sets, and they are: Standing Single Arm Reverse Flys All Kinds of Band Pullaparts Stick these in for high reps with a mini band or micro mini band. Another favorite is the Reverse Band Bench Row. Deadlift: Safety Squat Bar Good Mornings Keystone Deadlifts Back Raise/Rows Dead Hypers Farmers Walks If you are not hitting the accessory work on your back as hard as you should and you are wondering why your lifts are not moving, I just told you. Your back needs to be strong. If it is jacked that is even better because traps are the new abs as the kids say. How often should you train your back? I would say just about every session as you will be hitting it differently. EG: Squat day may have you doing Good Mornings as one of your assistance lifts, it’s hitting the back. Accessory may be Dead Hypers and Back Raises. Yes they work the hamstrings, but they hit yout back too. Bench day has 5 pullups between sets of dumbell presses, and then dumbell rows, and then Lying Pull aparts in between sets of Tate Presses. Get it? You can train it almost every session. Get to work. And I now have some HUGE news. I tied my shoes all by myself in a manner that a normal human would. This may not seem like a big deal, but if you’ve ever had an injury and could not do Activities of Daily Living you will not understand. In order to tie my left shoe, due to the bad hip, I had to come up with a process of grabbing my pant leg, slowly pulling my leg up about a quarter of the way up the right leg, grabbing a lace, and then recovering from almost passing out in pain. 20 or 30 seconds later, I’d try to tie the laces. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it fell out of my hand. Then the process would start all over. I also had to tie it with the bow all the way on one side and I looked like an idiot walking around with a bow on the inside of my shoe. There was no simply bending over and tying my shoe, or even sitting down and leaning over. It just didn’t work. My hip prevented me from getting in the right position to tie my shoe. Well, yesterday, I sat down before my lower body training session, leaned over, and tied my shoe with ZERO pain and a bow in the center of my Vans. How did this happen you ask? I was hoping you would. 5 Minute Fix: No, it’s less. RPR. Reflexive Performance Reset. RPS has changed my life. It has allowed me to Bench Press more than an empty bar, but more importantly, to walk without a limp, to tie my shoes, to sleep without waking up in pain and so much more. It is, for me LIFE CHANGING. Nothing else worked as good as this and I have tried a lot. Oh, and I Belt Squatted yesterday with no pain too. RPR Training Day If you want to experience what RPR can do for you, this Saturday, February 10th at 10:30 am., we are running an RPR Wake Drill Training Day at TPS. The Wake Up Drills are the foundation of RPR and we will teach you how to do them. Head over to my site and look up the What’s New Page for February to register. It may not change your life, but it WILL make it better. Ask me a question-Be sure and Type to Murph in the header Find me on Google-search for Total Performance Sports Malden, Mass. The Best Gym in Boston, Facebook too. Oh, yeah, follow us on Instagram too. TPSMalden SHARE THIS! #bostonsstrongest Vincere vel mori

by: C.J. Murphy

February 8, 2018