Back workout of the week (BWOW) – Vertical Pulling Smokdedness

I received this text from a friend last week: “Yo Ken, I was wondering if you could send me an insane back workout plan for today. I want to hit it hella hard on my back, and you’re the man to talk to about it”.

Of course I can, and did, send him an insane back workout plan. I thought that you would love to share his pain, and that it was perfect for this week’s back workout of the week.  Also it is right in line with our training schedule. This week we are going to shift from a basic strength building workout that focuses on horizontal rowing, to a high intensity  workout that emphasizes vertical pulling. That being said, you can blame Jordan for your smokdedness at the end of this one!

BWOW – Week 3:

Goal: High Intensity/Vertical Pulls

Pull-up / Lat Pulldown Supersets

  • Warm up using lat pulldowns
  • Superset Pull-ups and Lat Pulldowns – perform your pull-up set, then lat pulldowns with no break between them
  • Perform at least 6 pull-ups – use spotter assistance, or an assisted pull-up machine if you cannot complete 6 unassisted pull-ups; if you can do more than 6 pullups, perform weighted pull-ups
  • Select a weight that  you can perform 12 reps of lat pulldowns without cheating (ie swinging backwards as you pull the weight down); be aware that these will be much more difficult after pull-ups; you should be within 1 rep of failure at the end of each set
  • Rest 3-5 minutes between sets so that you are fully recovered

Barbell Rows

  • 3 sets/8 repetitions per set
  • You should be within 1 rep of failure at the end of each set
  • Minimize cheating, use as little upper body momentum as possible; if you cannot complete the sets without cheating reduce  your weight
  • Use wrist straps if necessary to hold the bar
  • Rest around 3 minutes between sets so that you are mostly recovered

Barbell Rows – Drop Set

  • 1 drop set/3 rounds
  • Select a weight you can complete about 6 reps without excessive cheating
  • Complete your first round to failure, reduce the weight, and keep rowing with no rest, repeat for your third round
  • Set up your bar so your drops are quick:
    • If your first round is in the 185-300lb range, drop a 25lb plate from each side per round
    • If your first round is under 185lbs, drop a 10lb plate from each side per round
    • Use a spotter on each side to remove the plates quickly between rounds
    • If you’re using wrist straps, don’t unwrap them between rounds

Dumbbell Rows – Supported

  • Each set of dumbbell rows will be to failure, and weight should increase for each set; select the appropriate weights for the following sets:
    • Set 1: 15 reps
    • Set 2: 10 reps
    • Set 3: 8 reps
  • Minimize cheating, use of momentum to complete your reps
  • Use wrist straps if necessary to hold dumbbells
  • Rest around 3 minutes between sets so that you’re mostly recovered
  • Note: if the dumbbells in your gym aren’t heavy enough, I have discovered that you can use chains with dumbbell rows!

Hammer Strength Rows

  • 3 sets/12 reps per set
  • Select a weight that you are within one rep of failure at the end of each set
  • I like the way you can really squeeze the lats at the end of the rep on the hammer strength; squeeze them tightly and pause for a moment on each rep before lowering the weight
  • Your lats and biceps should be burning at the end of each set
  • Rest around 3 minutes per set so that you are mostly recovered
  • If your gym has multiple rowing machines that function at different angles, use a different machine for each set
  • If you don’t have hammer strength at your gym, you can substitute a different rowing machine
  • Finally, if your back and biceps are not completely smoked at this point, perform a drop set for your last set of Hammer Strength rows – this is done just like the barbell row drop set you just did

Standing  Barbell Curls

  • 3 sets/10 reps per set
  • Select a weight that you are within 2-3 reps of failure at the end of each set – note that at this point in the workout, that weight should be embarrassingly small
  • Minimize cheating – bicep curls are meant to isolate your biceps, don’t turn them into an entire upper body workout
  • Don’t curl in the squat rack!!!

Seated Hammer Curls

  • 3 sets/10 reps per set
  • Select a weight that you are within 2-3 reps of failure at the end of each set

For a printable copy of this workout: Back Workout of the Week BWOW-3

Coming Attraction: Next week is my first week in training for the USA Powerlifting Masters National Championships. The next eight weeks of back training will be built around my training cycle for that competition.

Note: I do reserve the right to make up words, such as smokdedness as dictated by the situation.

If you want to start at the beginning, you can check out Back Workout of the Week #1 – BWOW1


4 Comments on “Back workout of the week (BWOW) – Vertical Pulling Smokdedness”

  1. The Ripper says:

    If you give this workout a try, leave a comment, give me some feedback on what’s working and what isn’t!
    – The Ripper

  2. Michael Gerogus says:

    Given that the purpose is to build strength I don’t understand why you would exercises at the end of the workout where the lifter cannot lift nearly as much as they could otherwise. Wouldn’t the lifts at the end of the workout serve more of an endurance purpose and not benefit overall strength since the muscles are too tired to lift a weight that is within the lifters typical capability?
    I appreciate lifters like yourself who share their knowledge with the only expectation in return is for the benefit of the sport. Thanks in advance!

  3. The Ripper says:

    Michael, I’m assuming you’re asking about why put bicep exercises at the end of the workout when your biceps are already spent, right?
    To answer your question, first I’ll say that this workout is aimed at building strength, not size. That being said, every exercise in this routine hammers at your biceps. Your biceps will get stronger and larger following this approach, and the curls are really just to finish them off.
    Generally speaking, you should always perform your compound exercises before your isolation exercises, unless you are specifically trying to pre-exhaust a muscle (such as training your triceps before bench press to force your pecs to do more of the work).
    All that being said, if your goal is to build size and overall symmetry (ie bodybuilding) versus strength, you may want a separate workout to address your biceps while they are fresh.

    – The Ripper

  4. Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
    Look advanced to more added agreeable from
    you! However, how could we communicate?

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