How to develop a beautiful, manly back? What exercises to choose?
Muscle mass can be developed with the use of cable and pulldown machines. But when using a barbell, in a single activity you will “attack” more muscles than during isolated exercises with machines. In this way you will do fewer reps, but still involve the same number of muscles.
Below you can find the basic principles of barbell exercises, perfect for muscle expansion with simultaneous shortening of the duration of workouts.
1. BENT OVER ROW
Bring your torso forward, by bending at the waist, while keeping the back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Bend your knees slightly and retract your hips to maintain the spine’s natural curvature (meaning that the dorsal spine should be straight). Grasp a barbell with a pronated grip (supinated grip is also acceptable). Adjust the grip width depending whether you want to stimulate the external or the internal parts of your back: the wider the grip the more engaged the internal back muscles. Remember that the concentric movement (the one in which the muscles contract) should be performed explosively, while the eccentric movement should be controlled.
2. BENCH BARBELL PRESS
Lie back on a flat bench, pulling your shoulder blades together and keeping your shoulders retracted, so that your chest sticks out. Grab the bar with a pronated grip, with your thumbs wrapping the bar. Note: avoid monkey grip, as then the probability of dropping the bar is bigger and you can develop a thumb injury when immediately pressing the thumb against the bar. Use a medium width grip, making sure that your wrists remain straight regardless of the bar position. Keep your elbows wide apart, creating a 90-degree angle between the arms and the rib line. Raise the barbell in an explosive movement and bring it back in a controlled way, avoiding its spontaneous drop by means of gravity.
3. BARBELL PRESS
Grab the barbell with a pronated grip (with your thumbs wrapping the bar), a bit wider than shoulder-width. Lift the bar up over your head, keeping your wrists straight. Remember to keep your elbows in front of your body and not to the sides. Then, you will force your shoulder joint to work harder, ensuring its better stimulation. You can do the exercise seated (preferably with a back support) or standing (in a slight step position).
4. STANDING BARBELL ARM CURLS
Stand upright, with your legs slightly apart and your knees slightly bent. Grab a barbell at a shoulder-width grip, with your palms facing upwards. Curl the weights forward while tilting your body slightly backwards and slightly raising your elbows. Bring the bar back by straightening the elbow.
5. DEEP SQUATS
Put the barbell on the upper part of the trapezius muscle. Pull your shoulder blades together and roll the shoulders back making your chest stick out. This will help you keep your dorsal spine straight. Stand with feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, to make your body position stable at each stage of the movement. Go as low as you can, until the angle between your thighs and shins is smaller than 90 degrees; make sure that your knees are right above the feet and that they do not go beyond the toe line.
Stand in front of the barbell. Your feet should be spaced shoulder-width apart. Do a semi-squat, making sure that your shins contact the bar. Use an overhand grip. Stand up, remembering to contract the back, the legs, the abdominal muscles and the back. The movement resembles driving the hips forward. Your hands should play the role of hooks, supporting the barbell as you stand up. Keep your thighs, buttocks, belly and back muscles contracted. The bar should remain as close to your body as possible for the entire range
When doing subsequent repetitions, bend your knees less and your hips more (bow rather than squat). Do not put the barbell back between individual reps, as then you would have to start each rep from the starting position.
When working out the whole body during one session, start with the upper body. Remember to train the biggest muscles first.
To make sure that your muscles receive optimum stimulation, do 4-5 series of all the exercises described above, with 8-15 repetitions of each.