20-Minute Back Workout!

20-Minute Back Workout!
by Lee Labrada

This week, I am going to be revisiting back training. Back training will help you develop a powerful V taper look in the upper body. If you’re female and don’t care for a “V taper” don’t worry – you’re not going to end up looking like me! A well-toned back is sexy, so go for it!

And, because the back comprises the second largest group of muscles in the body, it contributes to metabolism. Remember, that the amount of muscle you carry is directly proportional to your metabolic rate. People that carry more muscle typically have higher metabolic rates meaning they can burn more calories; which, in turn, means they can stay in shape more easily than others who don’t carry as much muscle.

Have you ever heard the term, “back-breaking work”? Putting this powerful set of muscles (back) to work taxes your body and can create a great deal of muscular stimulation, hence the term. But remember that putting this hard work into your back training will pay in rich dividends in terms of strength, energy and a leaner, healthier you.

If you’re like me, you’re on a tight schedule and you don’t have a lot of time to train. So today, I’m going to show you how you can invest just 20 minutes into your back training to get a wonderful payoff.

Back Workout

Pull-downs or Pull-ups to Front 3 sets of 10 repetitions

If you have access to a high lat pulley machine, then let’s begin with pull-downs. Perform a light set of pull-downs to warm up the back muscles. Take a grip where the palms of your hands are facing you and your hands are approximately 12-18″ apart. There’s a reason that we’re going to use this narrower grip. Placing your hands in this manner will align your arms and your back in such a way that you can maximally stretch and contract the muscles of the latissimus dorsi (the large muscles that create the V taper in the back) and other muscles at the upper back.

If you don’t have access to a lat machine, try pull ups from a chinning bar. (for proper technique, see this back training video here).

At the beginning of the lat pulldown movement, allow your shoulder blades to rotate outwards, so that you can feel a stretch in your lats. Then, contract your lats, pulling your elbows down and back towards your waist. Keep your back arched and keep your chest high to get the best contraction possible. It is important to keep your back arched. Otherwise, the stress is thrown mainly onto the arms. Be sure to pull the bar down and let it back up in a smooth, controlled manner, keeping the back muscles under tension throughout the entire range of motion. It should take you approximately one second to bring the bar down to your chest and at least two seconds to let the bar back up slowly under tension.

Remember that it is during the eccentric portion of the exercise (the portion of the exercise during which the muscle is lengthening under tension, which in this case means the portion of the exercise during which your are returning the bar to the starting position) that the muscle derives the greatest benefit.

Perform three sets of at least 10 repetitions per set. If you can do more than 10 repetitions with the intial weight, then add weight in order to bring the number of repetitions back down.

Bent Over Rows 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Once you have finished your pull-downs, immediately go to the bent over rows. Bent over rows tax the muscles in the upper back and are excellent for developing thickness.

To begin, load a barbell with a moderate amount of weight (moderate, of course, will depend on your strength). Approaching the bar, bend your knees slightly and then bend down at the waist, taking a shoulder-width grip on the barbell.

Pull the barbell to the base of your chest by contracting your back muscles and bringing your elbows up and back towards the ceiling. Keep your head up, and back arched throughout the movement, to get a maximum contraction in the upper back muscles.

Avoid “heaving” the bar up. Lower the weight under full control to avoid injuring your lower back. Perform three sets of at least 10 repetitions, going to positive failure.

Dead-lifts 3 sets of 10 repetitions

Next, we’ll proceed to dead lifts. This is an exercise that will strengthen not only the muscles of the lower back, but just about all of the muscles in the back. It is one of the very best back exercises around for this very reason.

Starting with the barbell on the floor, place your feet about 18″ apart, bend down and take an overhand grip, just wider than your thighs. At the bottom of the movement, drop your rear-end down by bending your knees, keeping your back straight.

Pull the bar up from the floor to bring your torso erect. As you come up, keep your torso straight and thrust your hips forward to lock out into the final position. This is great for building the erector muscles in the back. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions using a moderate weight.

Keep in mind, that as you perform these back exercises, it is important to take each set to positive failure. Unlike other kinds of failures in life, positive failure during exercise is actually a good thing. It means you have pushed the exercise to the point where you cannot perform another unassisted repetition. Creating this amount of fatigue in the target muscle as you exercise is important in sending your body the signal that is necessary to grow and adapt.

Rest in Between Sets

Rest just long enough in-between sets to catch your breath. This should take approximately one to two minutes but may be more, depending on your physical condition. Go for it on the last set of each exercise! Do as many repetitions as you possibly can and do not stop before you reach positive failure.


And, there you have it! My 20 Minute Back Workout. This is a workout that you can easily perform before you go to work in the morning, at lunch, or in the evening after work. There’s no excuse for skipping. So, do it today!

As you may already know, I place a lot of emphasis on the importance of proper nutrition. You can workout all you want, but if your nutrition doesn’t adequately support the exercise you do, and if you do not provide enough protein, calories, carbohydrates, and other nutrients to your body, you cannot make progress.

For this reason, I encourage people to use a good meal replacement powder or bar in their diet. I personally use Lean Body Meal Replacement Powders and Bars. To find out more about these extremely useful supplements, click here:

Lean Body Meal Replacement Powder Page

Protein Bar Page

Until next time, I am

Lee Labrada
Your Lean Body Coach™

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