If you’ve been training back with any consistency for any period of time, there is no doubts you’ve began enjoying some of the effects of training the muscles of the upper back. You look thicker when standing, both clothed and unclothed. You feel stronger in just about any movement you face, including leg exercises such as squats, because your back holds the bar much better. You’re gaining weight, and your traps and shoulders look better too. You’re filling out your frame.
As you have discovered the various movements of the upper back, you’ve no doubt learned that free weight exercises tend to deliver a level of size and thickness that is simply unmatched by lighter, arc-controlled movements such as lat cable pulldowns or the Hammer Strength Series of machines. These machines remove the need for balance, control, and stabilization of the weight. Instead, if you’re looking to add overall thickness to your back, and increase strength levels all around, you will need to opt for some free weight movements. You know the usual suspects. Deadlifts, barbell rows, and bent-over dumbbell rows rule the roost when it comes to building a big back. If you’re looking for something new, give T-bar dumbbell rows a shot. Using both hands to grip a single dumbbell, bring the weight up to your chest. It will target the lats in the same manner reached by both t-bar rows and dumbbell rows, but with a unique twist that will stimulate the muscles of the upper back in ways not met by the other two movements. Here are some tips for making this movement more effective.
You certainly do not want your smaller forearms giving out on this movement before the muscles of the lats and upper back. Eliminate this possibility by using gloves with wrist straps. These will protect your hands from the potential damage associated with overlapping the hands on a single dumbbell casing, and allow your wrists to have that extra nudge in holding onto the weight. Don’t become dependent on the straps for every set, but certainly use them for the heaviest of sets.
Train for feel
You don’t need to use the 120-pound dumbbells to get a good result from this exercise. Start with the same amount of weight you currently use for the one-arm variant of this exercise. Keep the movement slow, and pause at the top to completely enjoy a flex of the muscle groups being trained. You’re training the upper back – not the ego!
Measure the results
Use this movement consistently for 4 to 6 weeks, and determine if it’s actually working in growing the back in new ways. You may discover it’s not making any difference, in which case you should move on and try something new. At the same time, you might just discover new growth is taking place, in which case you should keep the movement in your regular rotation. Stay consistent and learn if the movement works before bouncing around to other experimental movements for upper back.
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