Pictured above is Dorian Yates.
He is one of my favorite bodybuilders.
This dude was the definition of ‘old school.'
I think he is my favorite because our training styles are very similar.
His workouts were very intense, short in duration, and were based on limited exercise selection.
That's how I like to do things.
Dorian also had a HUGE back.
If you are reading this, chances are you are interested in building a huge back as well.
You've come to the right place.
Before I go any further let me point out that if you have shoulder pain and/or want to prevent shoulder pain then you should perform much more pulling then pushing.
That means that you should do more work for the back than the chest.
Do like a 3:1 or 4:1 pull-to-push ratio.
For every 1 set of chest, do 3 or 4 sets of back.
I just had to point that out.
So how do you get a big-ass back?
Get really good and strong at the following 5 exercises.
To develop a great back you need width and thickness.
To develop width you do vertical pulling movements like pull ups and pulldowns.
To develop thickness you do horizontal pulling movements like rows.
I suggest picking 1 vertical back exercise and 1 horizontal back exercise and focus on those to create your back specialization program.
Here is a back specialization program that you can do.
Pull Ups 7 x failure
Concentration Curls 3 x 12-15 reps
Dumbbell Bench Press 5 x 8-12 reps
Dips 3 x failure
Seated Cable Rows 7 x 8-12 reps
Hack Squats 5 x 15-20 reps
Hamstring Curls 5 x 15-20 reps
As you can see, you don't need a ton of volume to build muscle.
This split looks super simple, but if you bust your ass and take each set to failure, you will soon realize how tough it really is.
On Monday you are working on your back width with Pull Ups.
On Thursday you are working on your back thickness with Seated Cable Rows.
Record your workouts.
Each workout try to increase by 1 total rep.
Try to add 1-2 pounds of bodyweight each month.
Any more than that is pure fat.
Now go and make Dorian proud.
Photo credit: gringoboy_72
Building muscle has always been a passion of mine.
The #1 goal of the majority of my clients is to build as much muscle as possible.
If you want to build significant muscle, you need to start taking it seriously. Below are 5 reasons why you're not making the gains you should be making.
You need a plan.
Do you think Washington just yelled “Charge!” during the Revolutionary War?
Do you think Tiger won the 2000 US Open by 15 shots by simply “Grippin & Rippin” it?
Do you think Dorian Yates won 6 consecutive Mr. Olympia's without a plan?
So, what makes you think you can build large slabs of muscle without a plan?
So pick a muscle-building split and stick with it for the next 3 months.
To get big you need to lift big.
You wanna know how Arnold got huge?
What a genius, right?
Relying mostly on curling 20 pound dumbbells and doing leg extensions ain't gonna do anything for you.
Try doing 50 pull ups, 50 dips, and 50 squats a week and see what that does for you.
Look, unless you can re-write the universal laws of thermodynamics, you cannot build muscle and lose fat at the same time.
You know who can do that?
Those that take steroids and/0r are genetic freaks.
I'm talking the top 1%.
That is not you.
You need to gain weight.
Gain weight, but don't get fat.
There is a difference.
When dudes try to gain muscle they eat anything and everything.
The result is that they gain muscle and a ton of fat.
Don't do this.
You cannot force feed a muscle to grow.
Your form when performing exercises doesn't need to be perfect, but it can't be terrible.
Strive for “solid” form.
Whenever possible, lift in front of a mirror so you can see what you are doing.
The key to building muscle fast is frequency.
That is to say, the more often you can stimulate a muscle, the more a muscle will grow.
But, frequency depends on recovery.
You can train a muscle whenever it has fully recovered from its previous stimulation.
Increased Recovery —–> Increased Frequency —–> Increased Muscle Growth
So, there you have it — 5 reasons why your muscle building program sucks and what you can do about it.
Which do you fall victim to? Tell us in the Comments.
photo credit: PUMPING IRON – TWO
I love building muscle. It's what I'm most passionate about. It's what I think about when going to sleep and what I think about when I wake up.
Most experts will agree on the best muscle building exercises. I think it's important to use the ones that you enjoy doing.
For example, deadlifts are an amazing muscle building exercise, but I hate doing them because they just are not fun.
So I don't do them.
There is nothing wrong with that.
My advice is that instead of picking a great exercise and performing it half-ass, you should pick an exercise you like and perform it with 100% intensity.
That's my philosophy.
I also believe that you should focus on just a few compound exercises and try to constantly improve on these by either increasing the weight and/or the reps.
Lat Pulldowns are a great back exercise. I recommend these for most people over pull ups because I feel that most people can create a better mind-muscle connection with lat pulldowns.
Seated Cable Rows are another great back exercise. I prefer these over 1-arm dumbbell rows simply because I feel it more in my back when I perform the cable rows.
Again, it's the mind-muscle connection that is critical for muscle growth.
As most of you know, I hate the barbell bench press. They destroy the shoulders and are more of a front deltoid exercise than they are a chest-building exercise.
Pushups are the most under-appreciated muscle-building exercise in existence.
Once you can bang out more than 20 push-ups then you should add weight.
The dip machine is great for the chest and triceps. I prefer these over bodyweight dips.
I feel like I have much more control and I like that I can manipulate the load.
5 – Goblet Squats
Squats are awesome. There are barbell back squats, barbell front squats, hack squats, and goblet squats.
I love goblet squats.
You can use a dumbbell or weighted vest or both.
1a) Lat Pulldowns 5 sets x 12-15 reps
1b) Weighted Pushups 5 sets x 12-15 reps
2) Goblet Squats 2 sets x 15-20 reps
Tuesday – off
1a) Seated Cable Rows 5 sets x 8-12 reps
1b) Dip Machine 5 sets x 8-12 reps
2) Goblet Squats 2 sets x 15-20 reps
Thursday – off
1) Goblet Squats 2 sets x 8-12 reps
2a) Lat Pulldowns 2 sets x 8-12 reps
2b) Weighted Pushups 2 sets x 8-12 reps
3a) Seated Cable Rows 2 sets x 8-12 reps
3b) Dip Machine 2 sets x 15-20 reps
Saturday & Sunday – off
If you follow the above split, keep records, and try to increase the weights consistently, you will make huge gains in muscle.
Winter is my favorite time of year. Why?
Because it's bulking season. You know – eat, lift, eat.
Guys love bulking season, but most make the same huge mistake (no pun intended).
What's the mistake? They become fat.
In their attempts to gain muscle, they eat everything in sight which leads to excessive fat gain. You cannot force-feed muscles to grow. It does not work that way.
So, after the typical 6 months of bulking, they need to diet for 6 months to lose all that fat they gained. During those 6 months of dieting, they lose most of the muscle they gained–if not more.
Back to square one.
So, what's the solution to building muscle without getting fat?
Well, I came up with 5 of them.
Implement one or all of them at once.
I love this strategy. It's simple. It works.
The idea is to eat a high amount of calories on your weight training days and a low amount of calories on your non-weight training days.
Your body needs more calories for energy and muscle building when you train.
I would recommend consuming 500 calories over your maintenance on your high days and consuming your maintenance on your off days.
This strategy will help you keep the fat gain at bay.
Yea, yea, yea, I know you want to get big.
But, you gotta listen–the leaner you are, the more likely your body will add muscle versus fat.
Conversely, the fatter you are, the easier it is for your body to gain fat.
If you are a man, get under 10% body fat before you start bulking and never ever let yourself get above 20%.
If you are a woman, get under 20% body fat before you start bulking and never ever let yourself get above 30%.
Let me know if this sounds familiar.
You bulk for 3-6 months, get fat, then cut for 3-6 months and you end up looking the same as you did when you originally started 6-12 months ago.
This is known as “traditional bulking.”
I don't know about you, but the hardest part for me is psychologically having to cut for 3-6 months.
I had to do it when I competed in my bodybuilding contest.
It's a long time to be miserable.
I've got a better idea–cyclical bulking.
Focus on building muscle for 4-8 weeks then follow that with a short cutting phase of 1-2 weeks.
Each bulking cycle will leave you with a little fat to burn off in those 1-2 cutting weeks.
Shorter cutting weeks leads to less muscle loss.
Plus it's easier psychologically to only have to diet 1-2 weeks at a time versus 3-6 months.
You can stick to the traditional 3-6 month bulking phase if you want. Try consuming the majority of your carbs immediately after your weight training sessions.
Your body craves carbs post-workout. Carbs will be stored as glycogen which is a source of energy for your muscles. Your body will not store carbs as fat post-workout.
Carbs are beneficial post-workout. This is the only time I recommend consuming simple sugars as well.
Implementing this eating strategy will help you pack on muscle without getting fat.
I fall victim to neglecting my cardio during bulking season. I mistakenly think that cardio will “burn up my muscle,” or something ridiculous like that.
Let's say you burn about 700 calories a week performing cardio. That's not a lot. Probably like 3 moderately intense 30 minute sessions. That adds up to about 3,500 calories a month or 1 pound.
That's 1 pound of fat less that you do not have to diet off once you start your cutting phase.
So, if your bulking phase is 6 months, you will start your cutting phase with 6 pounds of less fat than you normally would have had you neglected your cardio sessions.
So, do your cardio when bulking.
Ok, so forget about traditional bulking. It's dead. You need to start bulking smarter. Think about gaining muscle while minimizing fat gain.
You'll thank me when summer rolls around and all the fat guys are sweatin' bullets because they have to drop all that fat that accumulated during their dirty bulking phase.
You, on the other hand, will be able to coast to single-digit body fat.
I don't know you, but I'm pretty sure that you started this whole weight lifting thing because you wanted to build big arms.
Am I right? Thought so.
And the great thing about building big arms is that there is always room for improvement. Your arms can always get bigger. And I'm here to help.
Look, a lot of things work for building big arms. All I'm trying to do is give you another option.
Possibly one that you've never tried before.
It's called High Frequency Training or HFT.
Tell me if the following split looks familiar.
Chances are you are following a split very similar to the one above.
Is there anything wrong with it?
Not at all.
However, when you want a muscle to grow faster, you want to stimulate it as often as possible without exceeding your ability to recover.
Stimulating a muscle 3 times a week will lead to more growth than just stimulating that muscle 1 time a week.
This is where HFT comes in.
Take a look at the following HFT split for big arms.
You will notice that you are working your biceps and triceps 3 times a week instead of just 1 time a week in the previous example.
You will also notice that the total volume for your arms is basically the same.
Although you are working your arms more often, you are not adding any volume. You are simply splitting up the total volume into more sessions.
This is key.
Your biceps and triceps are small muscles, therefore, they recover faster and you can train them more often.
This is why your biceps and triceps are perfect muscles to use for HFT.
Try an arm specialization program using HFT and let me know what it does for you. Add your feedback in the Comments.
Look, I know how hard it is to build muscle. Trust me when I tell you it took me 20+ years to figure it out. But once I did--BAM!--muscle appeared almost overnight. Give me your email address and I'll send you the keys.
Discover how including just one simple (and inexpensive) supplement can revolutionize your muscle-building efforts.