Build a Stronger Back


We have bad news for you. while you were busy bombing your chest and biceps, you neglected your upper back-and it’s angry. So much so, in fact, that it refuses to grow any more and has even shut down further growth of your pecs and arms until you address this imbalance and correct it. Sergio Rojas, C.S.C.S., a strength coach in Chicago, is here to help you make amends. His advice: Pile the weight on your rowing exercises-that will help you balance out your upper body in no time.

Grab two pairs of dumbbells, one heavy set and one lighter set (you may want to use light weight plates, as shown); place them on the floor in front of you. Lie facedown on a Swiss ball, and grab one of the heavier dumbbells in each hand [1]. Keeping your elbows straight, pull your arms behind you as you squeeze your shoulder blades together [2]. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, then drop the weights and pick up the lighter pair. Immediately bend your elbows 90 degrees; raise the weights until your upper arms are parallel to the floor [3]. Rotate your forearms 90 degrees upward so the weights face forward (you’ll look like you’re in the bottom position of a shoulder press). Press the weights straight overhead [4]. That’s one rep. Perform eight to 12 reps, then rest 60 seconds. Repeat this superset once, and then move on to a rowing exercise.

“These moves fire up the muscles that stabilize the shoulder complex,” says Rojas. “That translates to more strength on rowing exercises.” Once you can row a good amount, your chest and biceps will grow even faster.