Workout 42: Back & Shoulders


Back Exercises

  1. Grasp the pull bar with a grip wider than your shoulder width.
  2. Take a deep breath and depress the shoulder blades. Drive your elbows straight down to the floor to pull yourself up. Simultaneously try to activate your lats.
  3. Pull your chin towards the bar until your lats are fully contracted. Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat. Try to do this motion slowly.
  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.
 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Slowly raise the bar in a controlled motion back to the starting position. Your arms should be fully extended and your lats fully stretched.
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.

Shoulders Exercises

  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. Stand upright with your feet hip width apart. Grasp one dumbbell with each hand so that your palms are facing inward and hands are against your thighs.
  2. While keeping your torso stationary, lift the dumbbells in front of you with a straight arm or slightly bent elbow. Continue to raise the dumbbell until your arm is slightly above parallel to the ground or around shoulder level.
  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. Sit on a military press bench, or any utility bench that has a back support, and hold two dumbbells upright on the top of your thighs.
  2. With your palms facing each other, lift the dumbbells up (one at a time) to shoulder level.
  3. Ten, rotate your wrists so that your palms are facing upward toward the ceiling.
  4. Press your dumbbells up and toward each other, without jerking your back.
  5. Slowly lower them until they return to the starting position.