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Workout 08: 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. Holding a barbell with a pronated grip (palms facing down), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward by bending at the waist. Ensure that you are keeping the back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. This is your starting position.
    2. Keeping the torso stationary, lift the barbell towards your torso. Keep your elbows close to the body and only use the forearms to hold the weight. At the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a brief pause.
    3. Slowly lower the barbell to the starting position.
    4. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Do not bounce up and down to get the bar up and down, and do NOT perform this exercise if you have back issues!

4. Close Grip Cable Row

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 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.

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. Set the bar on the smith machine to a height that is around the middle of your thighs. Grab the bar with both hands, wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift the barbell up and fully extend your arms so that your arms are straight but you’re holding the weighted bar.
  3. Use your side shoulders to lift the bar.. The bar should be close to the body as you move it up. Continue to lift it until it nearly touches your chin. Drive your elbows up towards the ceiling to ensure you’re using your shoulder.
  4. Slowly lower the bar back down slowly to the starting position. 
  5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

  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.