The Straight Up Series: Back



WIDE-GRIP LAT PULL DOWN Grip the bar as wide as comfortably possible. As you pull the weight down, concentrate on leading with your elbows and keeping them back. (Do not allow the elbows to move inward.)

IT’S TIME YOU RAGE WITH THE MACHINES, particularly on back day. (Don’t worry, the dumbbells and barbells will still be there next week.) What you have here is a workout that incorporates just two machines and two basic motions, pulldowns and rows, while still hitting four different exercises. The lat pulldown and Smith machine are two of the most useful machines for building a bigger, stronger back. As its name implies, the former is an obvious choice—a contraption that locks you into a secure, seated position so you can focus solely on pulling hard with no external factors at play. The Smith presents a similar benefit with bentover rows, as the machine defines the path of motion, thus allowing you to pile on a bit more weight than with a standard barbell. Plus, the Smith machine is the most convenient means of doing inverted rows, a great body-weight back move that complements pullups nicely. Embrace the machines. Your back musculature will be better for it.

REVERSE-GRIP LAT PULLDOWN Pull the bar down to your lower chest, not the upper pecs, to maximize range of motion. Squeeze your shoulder blades together for a one count at the bottom of each rep to reach full contraction.

SMITH MACHINE BENTOVER ROW Get your torso parallel with the loor (or close to it) and keep it there the entire set. Keep your chest out but don’t let it lift up.

Rest 60 seconds between all sets.

Wide-grip Lat Pulldown*48–12**
Reverse-grip Lat Pulldown*48–12**
Smith Machine Bentover Row38–10
Superset with
Inverted Row3To failure

*Alternate between these two exercises every other set—though not as true supersets. Do a set of wide-grip pulldowns, rest a minute; do a set of reverse-grip pulldowns, rest a minute; and repeat in this manner until all sets are complete.

**Use the same weight for both exercises, pyramiding up in weight each set.

INVERTED ROW At a Smith machine, set the bar to about hip height. Hang from the bar so your body forms a straight line. Pull your chest to the bar. Slowly return to the start position.