Workout 18: Back & Shoulders


Back Exercises

Caution: Avoid swinging your torso back and forth. This can result in a lower back injury.
  1. Attach a V-bar to the low pulley on a seated row machine. When gripping the V-bar, your palms should be facing each other.
  2. Sit down on the machine and place your feet on the front platform with your knees slightly bent.
  3. Grab the V-bar handles, lean over, and keep your back upright with your shoulders back. Your back should be slightly arched with your chest sticking out. As you hold the bar in front of you, you should notice a stretch in your lats.
  4. Keep your torso stationary and your elbows tucked in as you pull the handles back towards your torso. You should be squeezing your back muscles and holding that contraction for a second.
  5. Slowly return the weight to starting position by releasing your shoulder blades back down.
  1. Load an appropriate weight onto the end of the T-bar.
  2. Stand over the bar so that it’s in between your legs and your chest is resting on the pad. Keep your back flat, and make sure you have a firm grip on each side of the V-grip handle.
  3. Remove the bar from the rest. Keep your chest up, your hips back, and your feet wider than shoulder width apart. Lead the movement with your back, your arms should follow. The focus should not be on the angle of your arms, but on the contraction of your back.
  4. After your back reaches its maximum contraction and your shoulder blades are retracted, slowly let the weight of the bar pull your shoulder blades down to stretch your back.
  5. Let your arms follow naturally until the T-bar is returned to its starting position.
  1. Attach a wide grip handle to the lat pulldown machine. Adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height to prevent your lower body from moving while performing this movement.
  2. For a regular lat pulldown, grasp the bar with an overhand grip with your arms at the end of the flat bar.
  3. For a reverse-grip lat pulldown, use an underhand grip and your palms facing your body. For a close grip, your hands should be positioned shoulder width apart.
  4. Extend both arms up above you while holding the bar. Keep your back upright, create a slight curvature in your lower back, and stick out your chest.
  5. Keep your torso stationary and pull the bar down towards your body by drawing your shoulder blades and upper arms down and back. Squeeze your back muscles during this movement.
  6. Slowly raise the bar in a controlled motion back to the starting position. Your arms should be fully extended and your lats fully stretched
  1. Attach a wide bar at your shoulder level on the pulley of the pulldown machine. Grab the bar with an overhand grip with your palms facing downward, and make sure your grip is wider than your shoulder width.
  2. Take a couple steps back and make sure your feet are shoulder width apart. Slightly hinge at the waist so that your torso is leaning forward. Keep your arms fully extended so that they’re parallel to the ground. Your arms can have a slight bend at the elbow.
  3. Pull the bar down while keeping your arms straight. Continue pulling down until your hands are beside your thighs; you should feel a contraction in your lats.
  4. Reverse this movement while keeping your arms fully straight.

Shoulder Exercises

  1. Sit on the military press bench, or any utility bench that has a back support, and hold two dumbbells in front of you at about upper chest level. Your palms should be facing your body with your elbows bent and tucked in.
  2. Next, in the middle of the movement, raise the dumbbells as you rotate your palms until they are facing forward.
  3. Continue raising the dumbbells until your arms are fully extended above you.

  4. After a pause at the top, begin to lower the dumbbells, rotating your palms towards you.
  1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and dumbbells aligned with your feet at arm's length. Make sure your palms are facing inward towards your sides.
  2. Keep your torso stationary and raise the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend at your elbow. Lift your arms until they are slightly parallel to the ground, or around shoulder level, and pause for a second at the top.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  1. On the reverse fly machine (which sometimes doubles as a chest fly machine), adjust the handles so that they are fully facing the rear (closest together). Adjust the seat height to make the handles at your shoulder level. Sit on the seat with your chest against the pad and grasp the handles with your palms facing inwards.
  2. Pull your hands out to your sides and back as far as possible. This should make a semicircular motion where you should feel a stretch in your shoulders.
  3. Pause at the back of the movement, and slowly return the weight to the starting position.
  1. Stand upright or very slightly bent over with one dumbbell in each hand. Your palms should be facing your torso or each other and your arms should be fully extended by your sides.
  2. Lift the dumbbells by raising your shoulders as high as possible towards your ears while keeping your arms fully extended. Hold the contraction at the top for at least half a second.
  3. Lower the dumbbells back to the original position. Your shoulder should be the only part moving for this movement.