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Old 08-25-2010, 07:57 PM   #1
Emily Mattes
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Default Back training, part deux

I've been doing Kroc rows, barbell rows, controlled dumbbell rows, pull-ups, all of those things in order to increase my back strength but I'm still having trouble with it--mainly with being able to work maximal back strength rather than pure volume work.

I run into a wall when it comes to adding weight. I can rep out a certain weight with full range of motion/scapular retraction/etc for ages, but the minute I add a few pounds I lose range of motion completely. There's no gradual drop-off in the number of "good" reps that I see with other exercises (squats, deads, etc). I would like to be doing heavier back work (working up to a heavy set of 2-5 reps), but the above problem makes it difficult.

How would I address this particular weakness? I don't know if more volume is the answer, as that hasn't worked for me so far. What would you suggest? Isometric holds at the top of the rep? Eccentric work? Or is this normal for the back?

(Also, this is more specific to the upper/mid-back than the lower back)
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Old 08-25-2010, 08:53 PM   #2
Brian DeGennaro
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Could be lack of midline stability?
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:15 PM   #3
Emily Mattes
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Well, I have no hamstring or glute strength to speak of, and my core strength is admittedly lower than it should be (working on both of these). But this problem happens with supported row work as well (like on a Hammerstrength machine or a lying dumbbell row on a bench).
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Old 08-26-2010, 01:51 AM   #4
glennpendlay
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Emily, this makes no sense. The back is maybe the easiest part of the body to get strong. Can you tell me what you are doing now? I just cant imagine not being able to make gains in back strength...
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Old 08-26-2010, 04:57 AM   #5
Donald Lee
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Maybe with lower weights you subconsicously cheat?
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Old 08-26-2010, 11:32 AM   #6
Grissim Connery
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if i'm having row issues, heavy shrugging seems to help. if i'm having pullup issues, front lever work seems to help.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:00 PM   #7
Emily Mattes
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My programming is a bit different these days, but in the past on top of deadlifts, etc I'd be doing rows once a week on a three week cycle, working up to a heavy double one week, doing ten sets of one or two with little rest another, and then a 3x5 the third. For accessory work, I'd do Kroc rows once a week, or regular dumbbell rows, and I'd do body rows or pull-up work as well. Prior to this, I was doing Olympic lifting with no specific back work other than trying to keep it tight during training.

My back definitely has gotten stronger over the course of my training, I just seem to have trouble doing maximal effort work with it when I try to train it directly. I don't know if I'm not using the muscles properly or what when I do the exercises.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:18 AM   #8
Ben Moskowitz
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I don't know if this helps, but for the past 2 months I've been doing 3x5 Pendlay rows twice a week with a linear progression of 2.5 kg per workout. I think a very simple approach is possible, especially if you aren't moving much weight like me. YMMV, program as necessary.

Face pulls are also a good accessory for the upper back.
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Old 08-27-2010, 05:46 PM   #9
Alex Bond
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily Mattes View Post
I run into a wall when it comes to adding weight. I can rep out a certain weight with full range of motion/scapular retraction/etc for ages, but the minute I add a few pounds I lose range of motion completely. There's no gradual drop-off in the number of "good" reps that I see with other exercises (squats, deads, etc).
I seem to have this same issue too with rows. X#, I can do over and over and over and it looks good, but X+5# and the ROM I can do shrinks dramatically. I don't know exactly what causes the problem but it definitely happens to me. It seems to happen less with the DB rows than with the BB rows or machine rows, so I have stuck more to the DBs, but other than that I don't really know what the deal is.
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Old 08-28-2010, 02:17 PM   #10
glennpendlay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily Mattes View Post
My programming is a bit different these days, but in the past on top of deadlifts, etc I'd be doing rows once a week on a three week cycle, working up to a heavy double one week, doing ten sets of one or two with little rest another, and then a 3x5 the third. For accessory work, I'd do Kroc rows once a week, or regular dumbbell rows, and I'd do body rows or pull-up work as well. Prior to this, I was doing Olympic lifting with no specific back work other than trying to keep it tight during training.

My back definitely has gotten stronger over the course of my training, I just seem to have trouble doing maximal effort work with it when I try to train it directly. I don't know if I'm not using the muscles properly or what when I do the exercises.
Here is the thing... Most rowing/chinning movements are exercises where the last few inches are the hardest to complete. These types of movements are, in general, not given to training with the max effort style or with low reps. This is different than something like a bench press or a squat, where in general the hardest portion of the lift is in the middle, and it gets easier towards the end. Try rows or chins 2-3 times a week with the reps in the 5-10 range, and I bet you get better results.
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