Muscle Sport Magazine

Back There: Lighten Up To Feel a Pump in Your Lats

One of the more unique and famous lines from the 1977 documentary “Pumping Iron” was of course said by the one and only Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it’s still a debatable issue when the Austrian Oak compared the feeling of getting a pump in the gym to reaching orgasm.


Most people prefer the latter and cannot compare, but if you are like Arnold and are in that former minority, “cumming” is most likely felt on a chest or arms day. Rarely would you walk out of the gym after blasting your back with anything more than a sweat stain on your shorts. But perhaps all is not lost and feeling a real pump in your lats is possible, after all.

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The most common mistake that people make when training their backs is going too heavy. Sloppy form is commonplace near the T-bar, pull down and rowing areas. We all are guilty of ‘racking the weight’ and swinging away at a low-rep set, totally ignoring our screaming biceps that they are doing all the work.


With that said, is there any mystery why so many of us go through a pump-free back routine? Using all of that body English and momentum takes away the majority of what that rep should and could be doing, so it’s time that you ‘earn your wings’ and modify things.


So here it comes, and save the shit talking for later: start off using half the weight you currently use. If you begin on the T-bar with two plates, be a pussy for once and silde just one 45-pounder on.

Now perform 15-to-20 reps slowly, pausing in mid-rep for a second or two. When you get to the top, squeeze it and hold it for another brief spell. Get a nice stretch at the bottom of the rep but don’t be overly concerned with locking out your elbows. If you can control the weight you’re using, you should be able to stop on the way down right before those creaky joints begin to straighten. They’ll thank you in the long run.


With set number two, throw on that second plate you’ve been missing and bang out at least 12 reps using that same deliberate motion. Take your time because the last one will be a tri-set stripping down from three plates to one and it will be a bitch and a half to perform those pauses. Make sure you can get at least eight solid reps with the three 45’s on and then do 10 with two plates. You don’t have to squeeze and hold these because it’s more about endurance at this point. But when you are back to that single plate, hit it for 12 using the squeeze/hold method.


Another good movement to feel the back burn is a regular pull-down with a long bar going behind the neck, but the caveat in this is going down one side at a time. Start with something like 60 pounds. Bring one arm down all the way and do that squeeze/hold trick again. Come back up and do it with the other arm.


Because you’re going light, nothing under 12 reps should be done. In fact, 15-to-20 is more like it. Move the key and add 10 pounds for each of the next two sets, but don’t put too much weight that at least 10 strict reps are done.


You may get a few strange looks from the big boys in the gym, but you’ll have the last laugh when you can really feel it in the locker room while pulling on your jacket. On that day, you’ll be glad that you came.

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