My training partner had been busting my chops for months. “You’re not hardcore anymore!” This time it irked me. I blasted right back: “What the hell are you talking about?” Just like what Churchill said, (“I like a man who grins when he fights”), I proceeded to load the bar up to 405 and deadlift it 7 times for a new personal record (at age 44), defiant smirk on my face the whole time. Normally a pull like that wouldn’t bring any kind of bragging rights for a 188-pounder – barely in the 2X bodyweight club – a mere minimum standard… except for one thing. A neurosurgeon once told me after seeing my MRI that I should never lift more than 40 pounds. Squatting or deadlifting would be suicide, he said. I wish that doc had been there… oh man, I would have paid to see his face. But gloating to my training partner would have to do. “Take that! Who’s not Hardcore now?”
Good bodybuilders often talk about back development in terms of two qualities: thickness and width. Thickness is the depth in the back – it’s like having slabs upon slabs of muscle stacked on top of each other in your back muscles – traps, rhomboids, teres, lats and spinal erectors… it’s like if you were helping a bro oil up backstage, your hand would disappear into the depths of that mass… it’s like mounds of muscles that undulate like rolling hills across the countryside. And then you have width, which is more self-explanatory – those are your “wings” – the V-taper… the aspect of latissimus dorsi development that allows you to see your back when judges look at you.. from the front! Your back muscles literally flare out under your arm pits, and the wider they spread, the greater your V taper and the more impressive your physique. If you don’t have both – width and thickness – your physique is not complete.