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Back Training–Squeeze for Better Muscle Growth

A lot of people seem to have trouble getting their back to grow or binging out the thickness and detail. Back is one body part that I feel you need to control the form with. Most "hardcore mass builders" for back are performed with lousy technique and a lot of cheating, i.e. bent rows. Most people perform these with horrible form. Vince Gironda used to recommend holding the contracted position for up to 6 seconds if you have this problem. I’ve found a few tricks that seem to really help.

The first is to use an old-school Gironda exercise. Prop a bench up on both ends so you can do two arm dumbbell rows. Don’t be concerned about the bottom stretch as much as the contracted position of the movement. That’s the magic of this exercise. Lay face down think about expanding your chest as you try to pull your elbows back. Imagine you are trying to touch your elbows together behind you. Pull up for a count of 3 then try to hold it for 2 then lower with a 4 count and repeat.

[*Get the latest e-book collection of Vince's methods, quotes, workouts and advice Vince Gironda: Legend & Myth by Alan Palmieri, one of Vince's students. Read the Iron Man magazine review here.]

As I progress onto an upright movement such as wide or narrow grip pull-downs either overhand or underhand I practice a tip I learned years ago. I always start fully upright and S-L-O-W-L-Y lean back to about a 45% upper body angle––there is ZERO swinging or momentum the way I do this. Therefore the resistance curve mimics what was achieved with a Nautilus Pullover machine (which was an amazing exercise seldom found anymore) and my elbows go through a wide range of motion in relation to my torso.

Remember muscle growth occurs when it’s stimulated then allowed to recover. Swinging and cheating is not stimulation. Work the muscle, not the ego. Give these tips a try for a bigger, more detailed back!

If you back needs more width, use two overhead movements and one rowing movement. If your back needs more thickness, use two rowing movements and one overhead movement.

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