John walked into the compound looking like a zombie Saturday morning. He’s two weeks out from a show right now, so we’ve had to make some adjustments. It would be very easy for him to do too much, but it’s also detrimental to not do enough. This back session was designed a bit differently than what we normally do. We used a lot of lower risk movements, larger time under tension, and less rest.

He is ready for the show now, so the first rule is to not fuck him up. He looks totally different than last year (better lines, torso not as thick, tighter and actually more symmetrical). I will leave it up to him to tell how he did this, but everything we thought would happen did. Now it’s critical to not lose muscle. That’s the main goal.

Behind the Head Pull Downs

  • 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

I got in late, so I missed this one. All the same, I can’t do this exercise anyhow, so I missed nothing. Right away I noticed John was in full zombie mode, so while they were doing their sets I planned out the session in my head. When he gets this lean, it is better for him to just focus on the training and let us take over what he needs to do.

Chest Supported Rows

  • 2-3 warm-up sets of 10
  • 3 work sets of 10 reps (2 reps shy of failure)

Used a moderate tempo. Nothing aggressive, just tight form and contractions with a full range of motion.

Seated Face Pulls

  • 3 work sets of ? reps
  • Focused on contraction.

This has been a staple the last few weeks. 10-15 reps are pulled to the chin, 10-12 to the chest, and 10-12 to the belly. We did loaded stretching after each 10-12 rep series. Each set was a total of 20-30 reps, maybe more.

Snatch Grip Box Pulls

  • 4 sets
  • 6-8 no-touch reps

We pulled off an eight-inch box and only used 135 pounds. The trick here was to use a snatch grip, flex the lats, and try to pull the bar into your legs at the top. This creates more contraction. Only the first rep was pulled off the box. The rest were stopped half an inch to one inch above. This was to keep more tension on the lats.

This was a lat movement, so all the contraction and focus was placed on trying to bend the bar around the body. This is also why the weight stayed at 135. Any more would have made this too hard to do.

Pull-Overs / Mid-Back Hybrid / Upper Back Shrug

  • 3-4 work sets
  • Varying reps

We didn’t count reps on the pullovers, just did as many as it took to get to failure. If it was too easy, then we slowed the tempo and used longer contractions.

The mid-back hybrid used a prone bench like in a chest supported row. We placed a shoulder saver pad on top o the bench to allow the upper back to round. Then we grabbed dumbbells and while keeping the arms straight, allowed the weight to round the upper back over into more of a stretch. From there, we arched the upper back to neutral (or the position we started in).

From this position, at the top of the mid-back hybrid, we did a shrug using the upper back (not the traps) to pull the shoulder blades back.

This was added because I wanted to keep John’s volume high and to keep him moving and working hard. I didn’t want to do this as three separate movements. While he would have done it, the time and energy spent would have been counter-productive. John's back is an area that he has spent a year bringing up, and it’s important to make sure we keep this firing hard until the show.

Mag Grip Pulldown superset with 4" Grenade Ball Pulldown

  • 3 sets to failure
  • Aimed for 10-15 reps

None of these sets were using a full range of motion. All were from contraction to midpoint to keep constant tension on the muscle. The goal was to flush John's back so it was pumped to the max. After a couple sets I wanted his back to look purple (and it did).


With his back pumped to the max, we used a stretch trainer to stretch his lats in a horizontal position and then an overhead bar to stretch it in a vertical position. Each stretch was for 60 seconds.

When it was all done, there was max blood in the back, no pain, no injuries, tons of volume, and his back looked full — and full of cross striations. Exactly everything he needs right now. I think this is the sixth show for John that we’ve trained together. I have a pretty good idea of what he needs to do (with his training from here on out) to bring his best to the stage. This is also the best that I have ever seen him. Diet is all on him. I don’t know shit about it. All I can tell him is if he is flat, fat, or full.

If this is his last run, he is doing things right. Unless something drastic happens, he will be going out looking the best he ever has.