Workout 47: Back & Shoulders  


Back Exercises

1. Pull-Up

  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.

2. Bent Over Dumbbell Row

  1. Find a flat bench and place a dumbbell on each side. Start by placing your right knee on top of the bench.
  2. Bend your torso forward from your waist. Your upper body should be parallel to the ground. Place your right hand on the bench with your palm facing down, above where your knee is positioned. Place your left foot on the ground beside the bench. 
  3. Use your left hand to pick up the dumbbell with an overhand grip (your palm should be facing your torso). Keep your arm fully extended and make sure to keep your lower back straight. 
  4. Keep your elbow close to your side while you pull the weight straight up towards your chest. As you pull the weight up, concentrate on squeezing your back muscles and shoulder blades (you should feel a contraction in your back muscles).
  5. Slowly lower the weight straight down with control. 
  6. Alternate sides.

3. Close Grip Lat Pulldown

  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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. Slowly raise the bar in a controlled motion back to the starting position. Your arms should be fully extended and your lats fully stretched.

4. Straight Arm Rope Pulldown

  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. Arnold Dumbbell Press

  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.

2. Lateral Dumbbell Raise

  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.

3. Bent Over Rear Delt Raise

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Bend at the hip with the butt back as far as possible.
  3. Keep the back straight in order to pick up the dumbbells. The palms of your hands should be facing each other as you hold the dumbbells. This will be your starting position.
  4. Keeping your torso forward and stationary and the arms slightly bent at the elbows, lift the dumbbells straight to the side until both arms are parallel to the floor. (Note: Avoid swinging the torso or bringing the arms back as opposed to the side.)
  5. After a one second contraction at the top, slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.

    Variation: This exercise can also be performed seated. Those with lower back problems are better off performing this seated variety.

4. Face Pull

  1. Stand in front of a medium-height rotating pulley and grab each side of the rope attachment. 
  2. Step back away from the machine until your arms are fully extended in front of you. 
  3. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart and with a soft bend in your knees.
  4. Brace core and drive elbows past back, while pulling the rope handles slightly outside of your ears. 
  5. Hold and contract shoulder blades together.