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On this page I'll display training tips, techniques, and advice to help you on your way to achieving your goals.

Ken Bragg's Natural Bodybuilding

Tip of the Month: Get Back!

Do you aspire to have a strong, muscular back? One that captures attention and commands respect? A back so thick and wide that it puts the look of fear into a tailor's eyes? Are you willing to pay the price for such a back? The price may be steep but the results can be very rewarding. Having a densely muscular back can separate you from other competitors or weight trainers. A densely muscular back will help you in attaining that much sought after v-taper indicative of a highly trained athlete. Once your back is properly developed, your shirts and suits will never be quite the same!

Other than legs, the back is probably the most neglected body part when it comes to training. This in part is due to the fact that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to develop an outstanding back. Also, sometimes it is rather difficult to "feel" the back muscles working when performing an exercise. Most of the time this is due to using too much weight and using body momentum to perform the lift. Sure, your back may get worked like this but not as much as it could be if you dropped the weight a little and perfected your form. Once the form is perfected, then you can increase the weight but never at the sacrifice of good form.

Keep in mind to consult a physician before starting this or any exercise program. If you are ready for a great back workout then let's begin!

Pull-ups (palms facing forward)

5 sets. Take 2-4 minutes between sets.

Perform as many reps as possible using just your bodyweight. Once you can perform 5 sets of 12 reps, then and only then may you add weight. A repetition starts from a dead hang and counts as one once your chin surpasses the bar. Perform each rep from a dead hang and do not swing. Use controlled movements and "feel" the back muscles do the work. Think about pushing the elbows down instead of pulling yourself up with your arms. This will help shift the focus onto the back instead of the arms. Exhale as you pull yourself up and inhale as you lower yourself.

You may use wrist wraps if you choose to do so. However, if you are concerned about grip strength and/or forearm development then refrain from their use.

Barbell Rows

4 sets. Take 1-2 minutes between sets.

5-10 reps. Choose a weight where you can perform at least 5 reps but no more than 10. Once you can do 10 reps add additional weight. Bend over at the waist and keep a soft bend in the knees. It is not necessary to keep the back horizontal but you should not stand up so high it looks more like a shrug than a row. A 45-degree angle works well for most people. Using your back muscles, pull the weight up to the waist area. "Feel" the back muscles doing the work and not the arms. Exhale as you pull the weight and inhale as you lower the weight. Some people prefer to use a belt when performing this exercise. That choice is up to you. Personally, I only use a belt when I am performing my heaviest sets so that my lower back remains strong.

Choose a weight with which you can perform quality repetitions. Do not use so much weight that you have to heave it or do a movement that looks like a partial deadlift/shrug. We are looking for quality here and maximal back involvement. Once you perfect this movement, then you can start to add additional weight. I suggest that you perform this exercise with an overhand grip but occasionally you may use an underhand grip. If you choose to do so, you will probably have to lighten the weight so that you can get the "feel" again.


3 sets. Take 2-4 minutes between sets.

4-8 reps. We are looking for power, size, and strength here so we will go with slightly lower reps. You may use an overhand grip here but to use additional weight I would advise using a staggered grip with one palm facing you and the other facing away. Bend over at the waist and keep the knees bent. Take your grip, keep your back flat during the entire lift, and keep the bar against the legs as you make your lift. Do not let the bar stray away from the body! The bar should literally drag against your legs as you make the lift. Instead of thinking of lifting the weight up, visualize yourself pushing the floor away with your legs. You do not need to make an exaggerated arch with the lower back at the top of your lift unless you want to maximally stress the lower back muscles or you are a power lifter. Powerlifters are required to perform such an arch to have the lift marked as successful. Exhale as you lift and inhale as you set up for your next rep. Do not bounce your reps off of the floor and do not stop short of setting the weight down between reps. Each rep for a deadlift should be its own movement. After you do your first rep, set the weight down and do the next rep just as you did your first and so on.

You may choose to use a belt and lifting straps for this exercise. Always concentrate on perfect form for this exercise. Slowly increase the weight in small increments as your strength increases. This exercise is often left out of training programs because it is physically demanding. Do not make that mistake! You do not have to perform deadlifts in each and every workout forever, but they should come back into your training cycles on a frequent basis.

Lat Pulldowns

3 sets. Take 30-60 seconds between sets.

5-10 reps. Again choose a weight where you can perform at least 5 reps but no more than 10. Once you can do 10 reps add additional weight. On this exercise, use a close grip (4 apart) with your palms facing you. Pull the bar down to just below the chin level and exhale as you do so. It is not necessary to make contact with the chest. Pause at the bottom and squeeze the back muscles. Slowly lower the weight and inhale as you do so. Concentrate on "feeling" the back muscles do the work and not the arms.

Do not use so much weight that you have to heave it and rock back and forth to bring it down.

There you have it; an intense, complete back workout. Just remember that this is only one type of workout and there are many more with many different exercise possibilities. I would suggest that you use this program for approximately 6 weeks or until you feel as though you are no longer making gains in size and/or strength.

Good luck to you!


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