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The Bodybuilding Professor

Bryan Haycock MSc

Bryan haycock is an exercise physiologist, university instructor, writer, and consultant for the bodybuilding industry.

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Herculean Back

QUESTION: My chest responds really well to pretty much anything I do, but my lats suck. No matter what I do, they never seem to grow. What can I do?

ANSWER: Building an impressive Herculean back isn’t possible for the everyday “Chip and Chad” in the gym who only cares about getting a pump and checking himself out in the mirror. Building a barn door back is all about jacking up the big boy weights and training like an animal! And remember, bodybuilding is about training muscles you can’t always see in the mirror. Bodybuilding isn’t only about having a good chest but shocking the ladies as you walk past them because your back is as wide as a house! Over the past 30 years, I’ve learned that the key to getting lats to respond is grip strength and weight. Let me explain. The difficulty with movements such as lat pulldowns or rows is that the lats aren’t the weak link in the chain. Grip and arms usually give out before the lats. Because of this, most lifters never use enough weight to get their lats to really respond. So start by building your grip strength. Make sure to include movements like heavy shrugs without straps, and when you finish your last set, don’t just drop the weight. Hold onto it until your grip gives out. Just make sure it’s your last set, or you’ll be too spent and won’t be able to hold onto anything for a while. The other thing you’ll need to do is use more weight than you can lift. In other words, use eccentric (negative) work on your lats. The best way to do this is to use a dipping belt with added weight for chin ups/pull ups. Pick a weight you can lower in a controlled fashion for 10 reps. Find a bench or stool so that you can lift yourself up most or all of the way. Then really contract those lats and let the weight pull you down, stretching the lats while they are intensely contracting. If you have to jump up to begin each rep so you can start in the fully contracted position, then do so. The times in my lifting career when I have experienced the most dramatic growth in my lats were when I was regularly using negatives on the chin up bar. Give it a shot and let me know how you make out.

Bryan Haycock, is a well-known writer and authority in the fitness and bodybuilding industry and has gained an exceptionally strong reputation for his expertise in the field of nutrition and fitness. Haycock, a physiologist and NPC judge, holds certifications with the NSCA, ACE and is also a member of the American College of Sports Medicine. Haycock has been bodybuilding for 24 years, and is currently the Editor in Chief of www.ThinkMuscle.com. To contact Bryan Haycock, email him at: bryan@hsnhst.com