8 Week Back Focus Results
After 8 weeks the back focus is finished, I’m happy with the results as there has been some definite improvement both in strength and aesthetics.
Initial measurements on 24th March 2014 in black and final measurements on 19th May 2014 in red
Chest/Lats 43″ – 44″
Waist 36″ – 35½”
Hips 43″ – 42″
Thigh/Quads 24″ – 24½”
Calf 15¾ – 15¾
Bicep 15½ – 15¾
Weight 89.7kg – 88.1kg
So to summarise – Weight has stayed roughly the same, but inches have been gained or lost in all the right places! (except the good old calves which have remained stubbornly the same despite regular training that I wasn’t previously doing … grrrr!) Traps have become more pronounced as planned and also gained a ¼ inch on my arms – which is nice 😉
Getting Hench – The Importance of Back Training Part 1
To be truly Hench, you need an impressive back. Nothing states strength more or makes for a better looking physique than a big strong back. Whilst having a well developed chest and arms are important, without a good back alongside you will look weak and/or incomplete often with poor posture. This is why these are often called ‘mirror muscles’ – You look great to yourself when you look in the mirror, but you are never seen in everyday life like that! How often do we face someone directly face on? Your physique needs to be Hench from any angle and a well developed back is key and, dare I say, more important than chest or arms in the way you look. Not to mention the fact it is the most crucial muscle group for functional strength in tasks ranging from everyday life to athletics/sports or competitions.
Bodybuilders have a saying in competitions that ‘the contest is won from the back’, and the majority of winners have had the best back development. This alone should spur you on – A competition based solely on aesthetics considers the back as almost the most important bodypart, yet still the newbies and ego-lifters focus on those mirror muscles with all their effort and only half-ass their back and/or leg workouts despite claiming they are ‘bodybuilding’ or just want to ‘get big’.
A good back is measured on two main things .. Thickness – Which will pull your shoulders back, maintaining good posture and emphasizing your chest and ‘V’ Shape – Causing your waist to appear smaller and shoulders wider. What I would also add for a ‘Hench’ look is a third measure which is a good set of traps. Take Bane from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, or even the same actor Tom Hardy in ‘Warrior’ do you look at him and question if he’s powerful looking? Nope .. Definitely Hench!
Farmers Walks – Build your forearms & traps and strengthen your core – all whilst doing your ‘cardio’
Anyone who has performed a Farmer’s Walk with a significant weight will agree, they are killers! Although they look straightforward, they work your whole body, leave you gassed, and have been referred to as the ‘moving plank’ by spine specialists – Definitely a recommended ‘core’ exercise as far as I’m concerned. As a ‘Hench’ conditioning exercise, what can beat walking around carrying big-ass weights?
The normal Farmer’s Walk can be performed with just about anything you can pick up, from dumbbells and kettlebells to sandbags and olympic plates (loose plates – savage on the grip!). Simply assume a deadlift position over your objects, pick them up and walk a pre-determined distance for a few sets. As a guide, try to use bodyweight in total, or to be truly Hench, work up to bodyweight in each hand! Aim to walk 30-35 metres around 4-6 times.
The single handed Farmer’s Walk is the king of core strengthening! It will absolutely trash your grip, obliques, traps, lats and just about everything else! Set-up is the same, but with just one weight, swap it after each length (30-35 metres). Again work towards being able to hold bodyweight in one hand for Henchness!
Most importantly – Focus on posture throughout the entire exercise. Keep your shoulders back and down, head up not forward, arms by your sides and abs braced throughout – If you’re walking like a Neanderthal you’re not doing yourself any good! Throw these on the end of your workouts as a finisher, done correctly you won’t be able to hold a weight afterwards!
Start with the two handed variety and move on to the one handed for a real challenge! For a true strongman type Farmers Walk, either use purpose made handles or olympic barbells, the added instability will only increase the benefits of the exercise!
Build a bigger back with Yates rows
You wouldn’t believe how much mis-information there is on this! Just a simple search on google will give you thousands of differing opinions on whether it is a good or bad movement, some will claim it’s no good at all! I would say take a look at Dorian Yates and ask yourself, does this man look like he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to a big back? I really like this lift, it feels like it’s really hitting the lats hard performed properly, and unlike standard barbell rows or Pendlay rows, there is far less stress on the lower back. The biggest problem most have is executing the lift properly. Dorian used to use an underhand grip, but as the weights used were getting huge, he ended up doing the inevitable and injuring his bicep tendon and now uses a narrow overhand grip instead. The main two mistakes most people make are flaring out the elbows, and pausing at the top of the movement. This is a power movement and should be treated so. Use the heaviest weight you can and keep the body still! For a more in depth definition here’s the man himself.