“Back” in the saddle again!

Your back...quite possibly one of the most important components for powerlifting. Think about it, your back is involved in every one of the big three.  If you look through powerlifting magazines you will notice that the best totalers always have this big, thick, football field sized back on them.  A secondary benefit of having this monstrosity attached to the rear of your body is it helps prevent injury.  Anyone who has been subjected to lower back injuries will tell you it is not something you want to have. 
     Okay, so what are some of the great back motions?  Everyone is going to have their favorites and everyone will get something different from each motion.  Personally I have been on a Zercher Lift kick.  To those unfamiliar with this lift, you simply load a bar and leave it on the floor (like a DL).  Set up like you are going to DL but, you are going to bend down and grab the bar with the crook of you elbow.  This will about double you over in the extreme bottom position of a squat so be prepared for discomfort.  Once you have the bar secured in the crook of you arms you simply stand up, one rep.  I love the nature of this lift.  It is a gut buster but, you have to temper your intensity to exactly what you can handle.  Ego will get you hurt in a heartbeat when doing this motion.  If your one who can't quite get a handle on your ability to keep your training weights honest (I used to be really bad at this!), then this lift will teach you in a hurry.  I think this is one of the best motions for your lower back strength.  It is an ungodly loooooonnng range of motion so be prepared for an intense rep.  I wouldn't advise using multiple reps either.  I do these for 5 sets of 1 rep.  I think the weight I have been using is roughly 45% of my DL.  Start them light and work your way up on the weight.  I would advise stretching your hip girdle for a while prior to doing these.  Getting down to get a hold of the bar is a chore in itself.  
      My absolute favorite back exercise, and in my humble opinion, the King of all lifts is the notorious Deadlift.  I think this is one of the least utilized lifts in most gyms.  Sure powerlifters do them but, I don't think a whole lot of them really enjoy it.  There are a few of us out there who are wired a little funny and enjoy this brutality.  This is just my opinion so I could very well be misguided (it wouldn't be the first time) but, I think it takes a slightly loopy mind set to really get your Deadlift up.  Kind of a controlled reckless abandon.  That is an oxymoron for sure but, I can't think of a better way to describe it.  The simplicity of the lift is either you win and the bar comes ALL the way up, or the bar wins and doesn't (or it can really kick your a** and stay rooted to the floor!).  Either way, deadlifting is a stress on your back like no other.  I feel my back from my pelvis to my traps on the 2nd day after the day of heavy DL training.  This lift is the culmination of all the other back exercises you do.  You really need to target your whole back to get best results from deadlifting.  If you have a strong middle and upper back but, your low back is weak you are not going to pull the weight you can.  The same is true of the reverse.  I have seen lifters destroy their erectors in an attempt to increase their Deadlift but, they put no effort into their middle and upper back???  I don't recommend working your upper and middle back on DL days.  I usually throw some upper and middle back stuff in on bench days after the prime movers are hit.  I use a Louie Simmons system too so I have the flexibility to do that in my training regimen.  I donut think you will have the energy to effectively work the upper and middle back after heavy deadlifts.  It takes too much energy to do IMO.  I suggest orienting your training to put this region of your back on a separate day.  A final thought on deadlifting.  Train the lift in the opposite stance you compete with.  You don't have to do it for very long but, intermittently change to work the muscles in a slightly different manner, you won't regret it. 
      So what kinds of things really work your back all over?  I have utilized a fair number of different back motions over the years and what I have found works best are as follows.  I like bent over rows, performed at about a 45 degree bend with an underhand grip and the bar travels right along the top of my thighs into the lower abdomen.  Really works the inner middle back and low lats.  I include some form of pull down in each cycle of my training.  These are done with various grips (underhand, close, wide, parallel, etc.) to help keep the lat development going.  I don’t so much worry about getting wide as much as I do about getting thick.  I would also include some chest supported rowing motions.   


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