Upper Back Training For Muscular Detail… “Like A Road Map Back There.”


Tuesday, September 27th, 2005. Most of the back work I did today was focused on detailing the upper back between the shoulder blades (“back double bicep pose muscles”), and also some rowing for the mid back and belly of lat thickness (cable and barbell). Definitely hit the bulls eye with this workout.


A1 Wide parallel grip pulldown
2 warm up sets
Set 1: 190 lbs X 15 reps
Set 2: 200 lbs X 13 reps
Set 3: 210 lbs X 11 reps
B1 Seated Cable row with two single pulley handles
3 sets X 200 lbs X 12, 11, 11 reps
B2 Seated Cable Row, One Arm, pronated grip, elbows high
3 sets X 90 lbs X 10, 9, 8 reps
no rest between supersetted exercises B1 & B2, 60 seconds rest between supersets
C1 Bent Over Barbell Rows, Reverse grip
3 sets X 205 lbs X 12, last set drop to 155 lbs X 10 more reps
D1 Leverage Row Machine (wide pronated grip, elbows out)
3 sets X 70 lbs X 13, 12, 10 reps


A1 Barbell Shrugs
Set 1: 325 lbs X 12 reps
Set 2: 345 lbs X 12 reps
Set 3: 365 lbs X 10 reps
Set 4: 385 lbs X 9 reps
A2 Dumbbell Shrugs
4 sets X 70 lbs X 12 reps X 1013 (hold 3 seconds top of every rep)
10 seconds rest between supersetted exercises A1 & A2, 60 seconds rest between supersets


A1 calf press (on Icarian 45 degree plate load leg press)
4 sets X 500 lbs X 15-20 reps
B1 one legged Donkey calf
4 sets X 260 X 12-15 reps
C1 Seated calf machine (Cybex)
3 sets X 115 lbs (2 plates + quarter) X 25 reps

Workout Commentary

The pulldowns with the parallel grip bar were perfect for what I was trying to achieve today. That grip really nails you between the shoulder blades, especially when you lean back slightly at the contacted position (but without cheating).

There are a variety of different bars you can use for lat pulldowns. This one has parallel grip (palms facing each other), and it also had a bend in the bar to allow a couple inches of extra range of motion.

The leverage row machine is the piece where you lay on your stomach and then row upwards towards your chest. This machine also has different grips and I used the wide grip with the elbows flared out and high to again work the upper back between the shoulder blades.

I also did seated cable rows and bent over barbell rows. The barbell rows were done with free weights and a reverse grip for a change (I was previously doing them in the smith machine with an overhand (pronated) grip. The seated rows were done with two (separate) single pulley handles instead of the regular triangle bar. This gives you just a little bit more range of motion in the contracted position and a slightly different muscle recruitment pattern. It was a nice change up. It also allowed me to drop weight and superset directly into one arm seated cable rows quickly, by just grabbing one of the cable handles after the two arm rows.

I went heavy on the barbell shrugs again, just a little heavier than last time, and supersetted the heavy barbell shrugs into lighter, stricter dumbbell shrugs.

The day after this workout, I was sore exactly in the place I felt it during the parallel grip pulldowns and the lever rows – right between the shoulder blades in the middle/upper back.

For the next 2.5 weeks, I will continue to work on detailing the upper back between the shoulder blades, so that my back double bicep shot looks as “gnarly” as possible… lots of veins and lines running across the mid upper back… kind of like that scene in Pumping Iron where Ken Waller was Checking out Arnold’s Back Double Bicep shot, and Waller says to Arnold, “Like a Road map Back there…” Okay, well maybe my back will be on a slightly “smaller scale”, but it will be same “gnarly” ripped look! LOL.

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Comments on Upper Back Training For Muscular Detail… “Like A Road Map Back There.” Leave a Comment

October 4, 2005

Sparky @ 9:32 am #

Hey Tom, I’m loving the blog- your training is insane man!! I was just wondering whether by dropping to 176lbs in 2 weeks you expect to lose any muscle mass, as you are already so lean and were going to compete at over 180?
Good luck with the contests (I’m sure you’ll kick ass) and make sure no one gives you the wrong advices come show day!;)

October 7, 2005

Tom Venuto @ 1:34 pm #

I don’t know if I would have competed at 180 lbs or not. It’s hard to say because I tend to lose so much water weight the last few days, I may have eneded up at 176 anyway. Not to mention, I am still pushing to get even leaner. I still don’t feel 100% peaked yet.
Doing an NPC show now, I have to get under 176.25 lbs, regardless because that’s the weight class cutoff. Even if I were 100% peaked already, I’d still have to make weight because competing at the bottom of the light heavyweights makes no sense. I’d be the smallest guy in the class and most likely get my ass kicked
Losing muscle is almost inevitable in the final stages of a contest diet. You simply do the best you can to retain as much muscle as you can. When you’re down to just a tiny bit of body fat left on the lower abs and lower back (usually last places to go on a man), if you overdiet or overtrain whatsoever, your body will just as easily burn muscle for energy as it will that last bit of fat. Think about it – what else is there to burn, especially if you’re on low carbs?
Thanks for the good luck… don’t worry, I won’t take any “bad advices.” (I don’t listen to anyone but richie and my own intuition at this point)

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