The Best Barbell-Only Back Workout

101 best workouts the best barbell only back workout hang clean

101 Best Workouts Of All Time is the ultimate answer to the question “What workout should I do?” No matter what equipment you have available, from a fully-stocked supergym to a pair of mismatched dumbbells in your garage, or nothing but your body weight alone, you can build muscle, lose fat, and sculpt the physique you’ve always wanted.

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People who train mainly with barbells never seem to lack back development. Regardless of what exercises you do to target other muscles—Olympic lifts, squats, or deadlifts—just holding and stabilizing the bar places a demand on everything from the traps down to the spinal erectors. This barebones routine will thicken you front to back and widen you side to side.

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You’ll begin with the hang clean, an Olympic weightlifting exercise that works everything but requires the traps to help heave weights from the knees to the shoulders. Then you can target the lats with rows from various angles. If overemphasizing chest work has left your front and back out of balance, you couldn’t ask for a better tool than the trusty barbell to set things right.


Complete all sets for one exercise before going on to the next.


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Sets: 3 Reps: 6 Rest: 90 sec.
Hold the bar at shoulder width in front of your thighs and bend your hips and knees so that the bar lowers to just above your knees. Now explosively extend your hips as if jumping while at the same time shrugging your shoulders and pulling the bar straight up in front of your torso. As the bar reaches chest level, bend your elbows and flip your wrists to catch the bar at shoulder level, palms face the ceiling. Bend your hips and knees as you catch the bar to absorb the impact.

Sets: 3 Reps: 12, 10, 8 (each side) Rest: 90 sec.
Wedge the end of the bar into a corner (you may have to wrap it in a towel to protect the walls). Face away from the corner and hold the barbell behind the sleeve (where you load the weights) with your right hand. Stagger your legs so that your left leg is forward and, keeping your lower back flat, bend at the hips until your torso is about parallel to the floor. Draw your shoulder blade back and row the bar to your ribs.

Sets: 2 Reps: 10–12 Rest: 90 sec.
Hold the bar with an underhand grip at shoulder width. Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, bend your hips back and lower your torso to about 60 degrees. Row the weight to your belly button using a slight cheat (use momentum to begin each rep), but don’t let your lower back round. If you have wrist straps, you may use them to help your grip.

Sets: 2 Reps: 12–15 Rest: 60 sec.
Set up as you did for the Yates row, but grasp the bar overhand and bend forward more until your torso is parallel to the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and row the weight to your neck. Note that you’ll have to use light weights.

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Men’s Fitness training director Sean Hyson, C.S.C.S., assembled a team of the best trainers in the world to create boredom-beating, plateau-busting routines that cover any amount of time you have to exercise and whatever tools you have available to do it. Programs cover every body part, every implement (barbells, dumbbells, bands, etc.), and cardio. There’s a nutrition plan, too.

Pick up what Arnold Schwarzenegger called “a fantastic collection of workouts” at

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