When bodybuilders refer to the “back” muscles in their physique, they are usually referring to four muscle groups: the trapezius (“traps”), rhomboids, latissimus dorsi (“lats”) and the rear deltoids. These are the posterior muscles of the back and the muscles that play a large role in determining the shape of the physique of an individual. If you find these muscle groups are lagging in your development, here are a couple of methods that I guarantee will shatter your plateau.
One huge mistake a lot of trainees make with their back training is using WAY too much weight. Muscle responds to TENSION, not weight. Your body does not know the difference between 100 lbs. or 1,000 lbs., so adding loads of weight is not necessarily going to add tension to the muscle because most of the time, form is sacrificed for the sake of simply moving the weight.
Since form is usually sacrificed with heavy weight, most trainees are not working the muscle through its full range of motion, and are recruiting additional muscles other than the targeted muscles to move the weight. Full range of motion involves bringing the muscle to full extension (lengthening of the muscle) and full contraction (shortening of the muscle). Many trainees never reach full contraction during a back movement or exercise, which involves pulling the weight as close to your body as you can. The reason is usually because the weight is simply too heavy to do so.
Lighten the weight and focus on pulling “through your body.” This will result in a fully contracted muscle and recruitment of all of the muscle fibers within the muscle. Full recruitment of all of the muscle fibers within the muscle will create the necessary amount of muscle fatigue and inroad to stimulate an improvement in growth and strength.
Another trick to improving back gains involves your grip. Many trainees perform pulling movements with a “pronated” (palms facing down) grip. This form of grip puts your biceps in their weakest position, causing them to fatigue before your back muscles receive enough stimulation to grow.
Perform each movement with a “supinated” grip (palms facing up). This provides more contractile force and strength in your biceps, allowing you to better stimulate your back muscles. The pulldown exercise is commonly done with a pronated grip because bodybuilders believe it is necessary for developing a wide back. Simply put, this is wrong. Perform this exercise with your palms facing you, spaced shoulder-width apart. Pull the bar as close to your chest as you can and focus on squeezing the muscle. This simple trick will work wonders for the development of your lats along with the development of the other muscles in your back.