Back Workout of the Week – Winter 2013 Week 4

Week 4: Week 4 focuses on building back strength.

Training Goals:

  • Volume is reduced, and weight is increased.
  • Improve pull-up strength by performing pull-ups prior to rowing exercises.

Week 4: Strength Building

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

  • Face Pulls
  • 3 sets x 15 reps with a moderately light weight

Pull-ups: We’re working on increasing pull-up strength, so we start your back workout with pull-ups.

  • 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 10 reps on your own, add weight to your sets, such as
    • Weight belt to hang weight plates
    • Hold a dumbbell between your ankles
    • Weight vest
  • Use double overhand, wide grip
  • Perform 4 sets to failure

Barbell Rows, Cluster Sets:

  • What is a cluster set? You will perform a set of 5 reps and rack the bar. Don’t unwrap your wrists or take your hands off the bar. Rest 8 seconds and continue the set, rowing to failure. Do not use excessive upper body momentum for today’s sets.
  • Weight:
    • You should be somewhat warm after pull-ups, but if you need a couple of warm-up sets to get to your working weight, take them
    • Use your 5 Rep Max (5RM)
    • You will use the same weight for all sets unless:
      • If you can’t get 5 reps with good form in the initial part of the set, decrease the weight
      • If you get more than 5 reps in the second part of the set after the 8 second rest, increase the weight
  • Sets/Reps: 5 sets x 5 reps plus reps to failure after the 8 second rest period
  • Rest: Rest until you are recovered between sets (3-5 minutes)
  • Equipment: Use wrist straps if necessary

Dumbbell Rows, Unsupported: Dumbbell rows will be unsupported. You should be able to row slightly more weight than doing them supported on a bench.

  • Weight: Use your 10RM weight, you should use the same weight for all sets
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets to failure
    • If you get less than 8 reps, reduce the weight
    • If you get more than 12 reps, increase the weight
  • Rest: Rest until you are recovered between sets (3-5 minutes), no rest between one arm and the other within a set
  • Equipment: Use wrist straps for this exercise

Chest Supported Rows: Use whatever chest supported rowing machine your gym has. Goal is to eliminate any cheating, and emphasize just the muscles in your back for these sets. Concentrate on squeezing your shoulder blades together at the end of each repetition, pausing momentarily before lowering the weight again.

  • Weight: Set the weight to your 15RM
  • Sets/Reps: 3 sets x 15 reps
    • If you get less than 12 reps, or cannot keep your chest on the bench, reduce the weight
    • If you get more than 20 reps, increase the weight
  • Rest: Keep it short, 1-2 minutes

Standing Hammer Curls:

  • Weight: Set the weight to your 10RM
  • Sets/Reps: 4 sets x 10 reps
    • Minimize upper body momentum to cheat
  • Rest:
    • Keep your rest short, 1-2 minutes maximum


  • Emphasis this week is on moving more weight and building strength. Volume isn’t as high, if you need to increase the intensity, shorten your rest periods.

Workout Plan: 2013 Winter – BWOW Week 4 v1 – Web

BWOW workouts this cycle:



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