5 Most Common Back Training Mistakes

5 Most Common Back Training Mistakes

Perfect form and technique are the only ways to assure solid total back development. You can kiss your gains goodbye if you make any of these subtle but typical back-training blunders.

5 Most Common Back Training Mistakes

1. Leaning Back As You Pull

It's very uncommon to witness bodybuilders see-sawing their bodies in an attempt to move weights that are simply too heavy, whether they're doing pulldowns or rows. Because of the increased momentum, a lat exercise becomes a lower-back move, and guess which muscle group is performing less work? That contradicts the point entirely. Allow yourself to swallow your pride and reduce the weight of a few plates. Bending forward or backward approximately 10 degrees is acceptable, but anything more puts less emphasis on the target muscle and increases your risk of injury.

2. Neglecting Elbow Position

Back training classics include one-arm dumbbell rows, close-grip seated cable rows, and close-grip pulldowns, but there's a difficulty with practicing them all at the same time: They are lacking in the higher lats (the meaty area that accentuates your V-taper). When performing those motions, keep your elbows close to your body so that your lower lats are fully engaged. Always keep an eye on your elbow position: The upper lats are more effectively stimulated when your elbows are out wide and away from your sides. Wide-grip pull-ups and pulldowns, as well as wide-grip rows, target this area more effectively. To reach all parts of your back, consider motions where your elbows are both tight to your sides and away from your body in your back workout.

3. Not Using Pulling Straps

The problem of finishing those last few reps of almost every back exercise is as much about holding on to the bar as it is about completing those last few reps. Because most bodybuilders' hand grasp is weaker than their back strength, the grip will eventually give way before the lats are entirely exhausted. Allowing your grip to control your back is never a good idea. Straps provide you an advantage for more reps on nearly every back exercise; in fact, research suggests that utilizing weights ranging from 1–10RM (that is, on your heaviest sets as well as sets of 10 repeats) you may obtain 1–2 more reps each set, so straps aren't just for low-rep sets. Invest in a solid pair of straps and don't wait until your grip is compromised to put them on.

4. Allowing Your Back To Round

This is the one you've probably heard the most, and with good reason: When your back rounds, it exerts immense pressure on the discs in your spine, especially in the lumbar (lower back) area, increasing the risk of injury. A disc herniation is one of the most serious injuries a bodybuilder may sustain, as it can result in long-term pain, atrophy, numbness, and even the loss of the muscle's ability to contract. Whether you're pulling down, pulling up, pulling over, or rowing, your complete body must be in the best possible position for growth and strength, as well as safety. Keep your chest big and your lower back arched — never rounded — for good spinal health. That means, especially at the finish of your set, your core muscles must contract isometrically to maintain your body position and prevent your back from rounding.

5. Not Pulling Your Elbows Far Enough Back

Except for dedicated partial reps, you'd never conceive of loading up the squat bar and going down just a few inches, yet that's exactly what happens when you try to row weights that are too heavy. In the rowing motion, bring your elbows as far behind the plane of your back as possible, retracting your shoulder blades while you squeeze the target muscle for a full contraction. Exercising too hard restricts your range of motion. While you may not be able to complete the full range of motion at the end of a heavy set, make sure you're choosing a weight that allows you to finish at least 5–6 reps on your own.

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