Tag Archives: back workout

What is a “Pull” Workout?

There is a plethora of workout types out there. I mean there is a ton. From muscle workouts to crosstraining to cardio workouts and then more types within each type! It can be exhausting and, quite frankly, intimidating to even know where to start. That’s what we’re here for! We want to offer up different kinds of workouts so that you can feel familiar with them as you decide what you want to do. 

So what is a “pull” workout? Think of “pull” very literally. Think of what muscles you use when you pull on something. Typically, you’ll use your upper back (lats), your biceps, and the backs of your shoulders and traps. This provides us a great area to work out! Back, biceps, and certain parts of the shoulders! Next time you hit the gym, try a few of the exercises laid out below:

For the back…

1. Reverse lat pull-down.  Try 3-4 sets of a weight that’s right for you. Do your reps in a slow, controlled manner, bringing the bar down.

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Bring the Sexy to Your Back Workout

From one person to the next, people want nice backs. Whether you’re male or female, a sexy, strong back is desirable. It’s not hard to get there! All it takes is time, effort, and perseverance. For more than cosmetic purposes, having a strong back is incredibly useful in everyday life. We will outline a great back workout in a gym to get you that back you’ve been wanting. Please ask questions below if you are unsure about a particular exercise. We enjoy this workout because it hits all parts of our back. We also enjoy it because we did this workout together! Find a workout buddy–it keeps up the level of fun and motivation!

Quick Workout Summary

  • Seated cable rows
  • Lat pull downs 
  • Pull-ups
  • T-bar rows
  • Straight-arm pull down
  • 1-arm row
  • Rack pulls
  • Back extensions

1. Seated cable rows. The reps and sets all depend on what you’re going for. I usually do 4 sets of 1-5 reps for strength. If you’re going for muscular endurance, try 12+ reps. This applies for the rest of the workout. Make sure to isolate your back, and just pull with your arms. 

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2. Lat pull downs. Make sure you’re not using your whole body to pull it down, but instead using your arms to once more isolate your back. And don’t pull it behind your head!

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3. Pull-ups or assisted pull-ups. Make sure you go through these with every last bit of juice in you. These are pull-ups, not chin-ups. What’s the difference? Pull-ups have your knuckles facing you, chin-ups having them facing away from you. 

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4. T-bar rows. Not every gym has this, so we are lucky to be able to use it. It’s a lot of fun! Make sure your body is tight and strong as you row it towards yourself. If you don’t have a T-bar, try using a regular old barbell.

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5. Straight-arm pull down. Make sure your arms are straight on this one and you use your back rather than your triceps. 

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6. 1-arm row. Try to lean against something to give yourself more of a challenge and a way to stabilize your other muscles. Go hard!

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7. Rack pulls. For this one–first off–you need to be making a cute face like Hungry is making. Second, make sure the bar in the squat rack is in the right location so that you can do a small pull and then release it slowly back to the bar. It should make some noise and it should be heavy because this is a small movement.

Rack pulls

Rack pulls

8. Back extensions. We always like to finish off with back extensions to work our lower back as well as everything else. You can do this with or without weight and make sure you are contracting the proper muscles.

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And THAT will bring sexy to your back! This was a really fun workout and it’s even more fun if you get into it and work hard. Get a great playlist ready for yourself and kill it! Each exercise is important in a certain way. It’s important to keep form at tip-top shape and keep isolating your muscles for an effective workout. Remember, we are always here for advice or questions! If you have a question, please comment below! Use this workout to stay hungry and fit!

BONUS PUPPY PIC

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5 Ways to Stay Focused on Your Goals

If you’re one of our followers, you know I’m going through contest prep right now. It’s been a 6-week contest of cutting fat and building lean muscle, trying to create a “transformation.” Since my willpower week, the clean eating has been a cinch. Well, except when I went to Iowa for family reunion and had ice cream on a daily basis. After that vacation, it was hard to get myself as motivated as I was beforehand. I still followed a good eating plan and exercise routine but I wasn’t as into it, so I’d fall into some bad habits–mostly, it’s picking at food I shouldn’t have. We all sometimes have trouble staying focused on our goals and here are some tips to stay on track

1. Set your phone background to something motivational. I know what I want and I know how I can get it. But there’s always the gap of emotion, laziness, and impulse. This is a way to bridge that gap. Take a photo that inspires you, could be a picture of a physique you want or a place you want to get to. Whatever your goal is. Email it to your phone and set it as your background so that every time you look at it (and we all know our phones are with us 24/7). I even went and added some text to mine to remind me of my bad habit and stop my hand from snatching a little piece of something.

HOPE solo inspiration

A great motivator for me

2. Go back to the first image, post, “thing” that started you on this path. We all become inspired to complete a goal, one way or another. For me, for this goal, I was inspired by the contest page. Chris showed me the contest and he thought I could do well, maybe even win. I never thought I could win (okay maybe before I saw all the rest of the people joining), but his confidence in me and my imagination of what I could  transform my body into. It was a chance to test my willpower, to see how hard I could work. I look at that page and I feel those same feelings and I become inspired again.

3. Imagine yourself at the end. This is a huge one for me. I can feel tired after a day’s work, I can feel lazy, and make up some excuse of why I shouldn’t go 100% that day. But all it takes for me is to imagine myself at my completion, imagine what I can become, and that inspiration pops right up again. If your goal is to save enough money for a vacation to Greece, imagine yourself on the beach. If your goal is to lose those x number of pounds, imagine what you will look like, what you will feel like. I always like to imagine how strong I will become, mind, body, and spirit.

Actually developing some abs

Actually developing some abs

4. Set a schedule on your calendar. Whether you have a smart phone or a hard calendar (we have both), plan the days of your week. I used to do this a lot during college when I set up training sessions with my friends. And for this last week of the contest, I am scheduling my workouts each day. You don’t have to schedule all the way down to what exercises you’re going to do, but a general plan. Maybe back and biceps with a little cardio on Monday, Yoga and HIIT training on Tuesday, and so forth. Put it into your calendar (it’d be great if you could do reminders and alerts with your smart phone if you have one) and put the times too. Make what you want a priority, and that means making solid time for yourself.

Set a date!

Set a date!

5. Track your results. Whether that means calculating body fat percentage or watching your savings account go up, TRACK IT. Maybe you don’t see a difference (though you probably will), keep reality-based checkpoints that you can measure with. I hadn’t measured for a while and I finally did, finding that I had lost 2% body fat. It’s a great re-motivator if you feel like you’re hitting a plateau or sliding away. Find some way to track your results and goal, no matter what it is.

Seeing progress

Seeing progress

Those are 5 simple things you can do anywhere, anyhow. If you feel yourself sliding, try one of these tricks. They are sure-fire to keep you hungry and fit! 

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BONUS KITTY PIC

Kitties from the other side of the window

Kitties from the other side of the window

Back to Back… and Biceps… Yet Again

It’s another cover of one of our workouts, which have been getting a little bit better… I hope. It’s been very challenging balancing working 7 days a week and still finding time, with gyms not being open 24 hours, to work out and work out well. Furthermore, it’s been most challenging to not neglect any body parts. Ideally for me, aside from cardio workouts and recreational workouts, I like to focus muscular isolation workouts on legs, core, chest, triceps, biceps, back, forearms, and neck. Combinations can be made freely, but again, ideally once a week with proper rest is a good start… twice a week when we’re in killer shape. Never more than that, especially with strength training.  We’ve been struggling with hitting every body part on a good reliable consistent rotation but back and biceps are rarely missed because of their size, and for now, their role in climbing. So here is my coverage of a decent pull muscle workout.

We hit the gym around 9:30, a little late, we like to get there around 9, and I put some Tiger Balm and Tiger Balm Muscle Rub on my upper body pull muscles and joints. Prior to coming, on an empty stomach, I took 1.M.R. A pre-workout supplement, one scoop a day before my muscle workouts, for nothing else. At 9:37 the fun began, on a day where I was feeling pretty good, a little sore throughout the body, especially in the lower back, and my cold I have now hadn’t hit me yet.

(by the way, as a foreword, before you ask about rest or reps, it’s minimal rest and every set is to failure, seriously)

9:37: Super set 1: (4 super sets)

a. Alternating pullups and chinups

b. Seated d-bell lat flyes (it’s the proper spelling, seriously, but I don’t care how people spell it, Alana did standing)

9:47: 2 (4 super sets)

a. lat pull downs (narrowing grip every set)

b. seated hammer curls

(during this set, while we were swapping equipment because two pieces for two people is more than fair, some gym jerk decided to try to take our incline bench, so I told him to beat it and he did. I was polite)

10:01: 3 (4 super sets)

a. low seated cable rows

b. incline pinky offset curls (have your pinky be touching the head of the d-bell, so the thumb is around the middle)

10:17: 4 (3 super sets)

a. kettle bell sumo romanian deadifts

b. back extensions

And then around 10:30, we bouldered for about 20 minutes until my forearms felt like they were about to split. Typically, we get kicked out of the gym, but that day we left a couple minutes early. If you ever get that sensation, just stop.

So now, the reason why I wrote this post was to dedicate a section to bodyweight or near bodyweight lower back exercises. While sometimes I work out lower back with back or legs, it really could be classified as core. Depending what your weekly split is, you can cater your lower back workouts to match those days. For instance,

If you are trying to do lower back with legs, deadlifts and squats are great exercises to focus on good form and strengthening your lower back. Whether it is a romanian dead lift, straight leg, front squat, olympic squat, etc you should focus on good form! If you squat 600 lbs for 1 rep and your back isn’t straight, I don’t count it. You can, but you’re lying to yourself.

You can also use the back extension apparatus that is actually a glute/upper hamstring piece of equipment. Hit a few birds with one stone. If you’re doing shoulders or back, kettlebell swings are a great workout for lower back. But if you’re trying to work body weight, lower back is a great group to focus on with your core.

Back extensions on the apparatus are I think the most convenient one here. It is bodyweight and weight can be added, but it requires a piece of equipment, and if you don’t have it just do…

Supermans – laying stomach down, extend your limbs outwards and slowly or quickly contract upwards, then slowly or SLOWLY stretch back downwards to the floor. Thirty reps is a great goal for body weight exercises, especially for your core.

Any deadlift can be done bodyweight. Single leg are the most challenging and if done improperly can hurt your lower back a lot more. I recommend a straight leg romanian deadlift where your only pivot point is at the lower back. Rep it out again with the same execution as the superman.

Never, in any circumstance, bend your lower back or arch it towards your stomach. Try to keep it tight, keep it straight and if anything, but try not to, arch it away from your stomach.

Do a plank, and a side plank on each side. Planks are arguably if done correctly the best core exercises and this includes your lower back. Do not overlook these. Do them for as long as you can maintain proper form, and when form deteriorates, rotate onto your side… or rest! Then repeat.

If you have a stability ball, you can do reverse extensions where you bring the ball into your chest with your feet on it. Keep that spine straight and try to rep it out. I usually shoot for 20.

Don’t forget about bridges. These will be used in some yoga classes. It’s kind of a reverse plank, with your back to the ground.

And on that note, consider yoga poses! Cat pose, cow pose, cobra, scorpion, chattarangaaaaa (or however you spell it). These are difficult glorified stretches that can really work. Just make sure you don’t only do these. I have a thing against just doing “static stretches” but I understand yogis that these aren’t JUST static stretches so stay back.

Any questions?