I recall when I first started working out. Like many, I didn’t know much more than bench press, curls, and overhead press. With a rusty bench and a bunch of cement-filled weights, that’s about all I did for a while. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college (back in 1993)that I joined a real gym and started training the muscles I neglected; legs and back.
Even when I started training back, I only did a few sets of lat pulldowns and seated rows. Those two machines are usually pretty close together. It wasn’t until a couple years later that I learned about the true mass builders. Exercises like barbell rows, dumbbell rows, and of course deadlifts, had not been a part of my training regimen. When I started throwing in more rows, I really started growing.
Now, I like doing lat pulldowns (and there’s a few variations of these you can do). They target your lats and give you that width in your back. But true overall size and mass comes from rows. I’ll emphasize rows with heavy barbells and dumbbells. And this morning, with the exception of the first exercise, I decided to do an all rows back workout.
Back Workout with All Rows
- Dumbbell Pullovers
- 4 sets x 10-12 reps
- Dumbbell Rows
- 4 sets x 6-8 reps
- Barbell Rows
- 4 sets x 10 reps
- Plate-Loaded Rows
- 4 sets x 8-12 reps, 1 x 20
- Hammer Strength High Rows
- 4 sets x 8 reps
As you know if you’ve been following my workouts, I’ve been starting my back workout with dumbbell pullovers for the past several weeks. This is a great exercise to warm up your back muscles. After that I jumped right into my all rows back workout.
Free Weight Rows
Nothing builds muscle like free weights. Machines have their place and I do indeed use them (especially Hammer Strength machines and anything that allows you to load the weight). But free weights recruit more muscle fibers as well as secondary muscles. They force you to get stronger and build more muscle.
I jumped right into dumbbell rows after pullovers. A lot of people will place their knee on a bench but I brace myself with my hand on the lower dumbbell rack. This feels more natural to me and doesn’t cause me any lower back pain. From there I went to barbell rows, or what many call bent over rows.
Machines for Back
My last two back exercises were machines. However, these were all plate-loaded, meaning you load free weights onto them. One is the plate-loaded row machine. I’m not sure of the brand but I use this quite often. It allows me to go heavy and there’s no pressure on my lower back due to the chest-rest.
I’m a big fan of the Hammer Strength plate-loaded machines, especially for back exercises. I finished with the Hammer Strength High Row machine. This hits an angle of your back that you just can’t it with free weights.
Biceps and More After Back
I also hit some biceps after my back workout. I’ve been doing this for the past few weeks and will more than likely continue for a while.
- Dumbbell Hammer Curls
- 4 sets x 10 reps, 1 x 20
- Preacher Curls
- 4 sets x 8-10 reps (triple drop on final set)
After that I hit some calves, abs and cardio. For both calves and abs I generally pick two exercises and do 3-4 sets each. I keep my rest periods short between sets. For calves, I often add techniques like rest-pause sets and drop sets. My cardio is 20-30 of walking on the treadmill.
Train with Passion,