Back Workout of the Week – Winter 2013 Week 1

I introduced the Brute Force Back Workout of the Week (BWOW) a while back (Brute Force BWOW 1). I had bombed out of the USA Powerlifting Open Nationals in 2010 because I couldn’t successfully hit any of my bench press attempts. What does that have to do with back training you ask? That entire training cycle I didn’t work my back or biceps at all, two huge stabilizers for your bench press. I was unable to control the bar as it got to my chest, and couldn’t complete a single bench press.

After that I went on a rampage for a year and a half, punishing my back and biceps with a different high intensity workout every week. My back size and strength exploded. So did my bench press, earning me the bench press gold medal at the International Powerlifting Federation Masters World Championships in 2011 and 2012. BWOW grew out of this training success.


I’m resurrecting BWOW with the idea of applying a periodization scheme to my back training, just as you would for your other core lifts (squat, bench press, deadlift). Week 1 will be a very high volume back workout.

Week 1: Volume Training

Warm-ups: Warm up your upper body to prep for your back session

  • Light shoulder internal and external rotation – 3×15
  • If you need more warm-ups, do a few light sets of lat pull downs

Pull-ups: One of our goals this training cycle will be to increase your pull-up strength.

  • If you cannot get at least 5 pull-ups on your own, use assistance
    • Assisted pull-up station
    • Resistance bands, set up for reverse resistance
    • Use the minimum assistance required to get at least 5 reps
    • If you can get at least 5 reps on your own, add weight to your first set
    • Use double overhand, wide grip
    • Perform 4 sets to failure


Coffee getting through it on beard power alone

Barbell Rows: This will be a very high volume set of lifts!

  • Select your 10RM for barbell rows
  • You should be somewhat warm after pull-ups, but if you need a couple of warm-up sets, take them
  • If you are training with a partner with a similar 10RM, use the lower of the two 10RMs
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes
  • Alternate sets, performing barbell rows to failure
    • If you have a training partner, you will alternate with no rest, as soon as your partner finishes you will begin rowing; your total rest should be 30 seconds or less
    • If you do not have a training partner, take no more than 30 seconds rest between sets
    • I recommend using wrist straps for this exercise; you will likely not be able to hold the bar without them to effectively work your back

Dumbbell Rows, Supported:

  • Select your 10RM weight dumbbell
  • Perform 3 sets to failure
  • Use wrist straps if necessary (again, for dumbbell rows I recommend using straps to effectively work your back)
  • Rest until you are fully recovered between sets (3-5 minutes)

Hammer Curl/Lat Pull-down Superset: We’re going to pre-exhaust your biceps so that your lats have to do more of the work

  • If you’ve done the rest of your workout correctly, your rep maxes on these exercises will be relatively meaningless; select a weight you can get the sets and reps in the appropriate ranges
  • Start with hammer curls, select a weight you can (still) get 8-12 reps with proper form
  • Take 1-2 minutes rest and continue the set with lat pull-downs, using a weight you can get 10-12 reps
  • Take 2-3 minutes rest between each superset
  • Complete a total of 3 supersets

Hammer Curl/Cable Row Superset: We’re continuing with the bicep pre-exhaust, and performing high rep cable rows; this allows us to engage more of your back muscles in the rows (rhomboids and lower/mid traps)

  • Continue the superset with the same weight for hammer curls
  • As with previous superset, take 1-2 minutes rest between hammer curls and cable rows
  • Select a weight you can get 20 reps with on the cable rows
  • Squeeze each rep on the cable row tightly at the top, pinching your shoulder blades together
  • Take 2-3 minutes rest between each superset
  • Complete a total of 3 supersets

BWOW Man Down!


  • Coffee: Rated the workout at about an ‘8’ on our Smokdedness Scale. It was a challenging workout, but we have gone through tougher sessions. That being said, he did text me ‘Curse you Ken Gack!! My back and biceps are destroyed’ the morning after, and biceps were burning for a few days.
  • Gack: Rated the workout at about a ‘7’ on our Smokdedness Scale. It was a challenging workout, but the conditioning component of the core lift (barbell rows) eclipsed the strength and hypertrophy component.

Workout Plan2013 Winter – BWOW Week 1 v1 – Web

BWOW plans for this cycle:


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