May Workout – Upper Back

In Monthly Workouts, Training by Eugene Teo

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The upper back is probably one of the most misunderstood regions when it comes to training. Unlike the surrounding muscles like the lats, the rhomboids, lower traps and deep erector muscles like the longissimus play roles not in active concentric/eccentric motion – but more so in isometric stability of the spine and scapula under heavy training loads.

With that in mind, it’s not so much about directly targeting it with light, isolation movements – but using heavier compound movements that place considerable demand on these structures to play their stabilising role.

So here’s what I did

A1. Front Squats – 5 sets of 4-2 reps, with a 5 second eccentric and 4 second pause.

B1. Snatch Grip Rack Pull – Above Knee – Dead Stop Reps – 4 sets of 10-12 reps, 3 second eccentric.

It doesn’t look like much – but the high neural demands of this workout were immense and my entire posterior chain was fried. Front squats are a great way to place the upper back muscles on an isometric loaded stretch – which will increase neural drive to the muscles. Finishing off with a Snatch Grip on the rack pulls allows for slightly greater articulation at the humerus, keeping the scapula in a mid-range point of flexion – which felt absolutely nasty.

With heavy movements like this, take plenty of rests – 3-5 minutes between all work sets, and plenty of warm up/feeler sets.