Middle back

The back is divided into three main sections: upper, middle and lower back.

Other muscles

97 Exercises

Alternating Kettlebell Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: isolation
Equipment: kettlebells
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Place two kettlebells in front of your feet. Bend your knees slightly and push your butt out as much as possible. As you bend over to get into the starting position grab both kettlebells by the handles.
  • Pull one kettlebell off of the floor while holding on to the other kettlebell. Retract the shoulder blade of the working side, as you flex the elbow, drawing the kettlebell towards your stomach or rib cage.
  • Lower the kettlebell in the working arm and repeat with your other arm.

Alternating Renegade Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: expert
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: kettlebells
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • biceps
  • chest
  • lats
  • triceps
Instructions:
  • Place two kettlebells on the floor about shoulder width apart. Position yourself on your toes and your hands as though you were doing a pushup, with the body straight and extended. Use the handles of the kettlebells to support your upper body. You may need to position your feet wide for support.
  • Push one kettlebell into the floor and row the other kettlebell, retracting the shoulder blade of the working side as you flex the elbow, pulling it to your side.
  • Then lower the kettlebell to the floor and begin the kettlebell in the opposite hand. Repeat for several reps.

Anti-Gravity Press

Category: strength
Force: push
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
  • traps
  • triceps
Instructions:
  • Place a bar on the ground behind the head of an incline bench.
  • Lay on the bench face down. With a pronated grip, pick the barbell up from the floor. Flex the elbows, performing a reverse curl to bring the bar near your chest. This will be your starting position.
  • To begin, press the barbell out in front of your head by extending your elbows. Keep your arms parallel to the ground throughout the movement.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat to complete the set.

Atlas Stones

Category: strongman
Force: pull
Level: expert
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • adductors
  • biceps
  • calves
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Begin with the atlas stone between your feet. Bend at the hips to wrap your arms vertically around the Atlas Stone, attempting to get your fingers underneath the stone. Many stones will have a small flat portion on the bottom, which will make the stone easier to hold.
  • Pulling the stone into your torso, drive through the back half of your feet to pull the stone from the ground.
  • As the stone passes the knees, lap it by sitting backward, pulling the stone on top of your thighs.
  • Sit low, getting the stone high onto your chest as you change your grip to reach over the stone. Stand, driving through with your hips. Close distance to the loading platform, and lean back, extending the hips to get the stone as high as possible.

Axle Deadlift

Category: strongman
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Approach the bar so that it is centered over your feet. You feet should be about hip width apart. Bend at the hip to grip the bar at shoulder width, allowing your shoulder blades to protract. Typically, you would use an over/under grip.
  • With your feet and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and flex the knees until your shins contact the bar. Look forward with your head, keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward.
  • After the bar passes the knees, aggressively pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar.
  • Lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.

Back Flyes - With Bands

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: bands
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
  • triceps
Instructions:
  • Run a band around a stationary post like that of a squat rack.
  • Grab the band by the handles and stand back so that the tension in the band rises.
  • Extend and lift the arms straight in front of you. Tip: Your arms should be straight and parallel to the floor while perpendicular to your torso. Your feet should be firmly planted on the floor spread at shoulder width. This will be your starting position.
  • As you exhale, move your arms to the sides and back. Keep your arms extended and parallel to the floor. Continue the movement until the arms are extended to your sides.
  • After a pause, go back to the original position as you inhale.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Band Assisted Pull-Up

Category: strength
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • forearms
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Choke the band around the center of the pullup bar. You can use different bands to provide varying levels of assistance.
  • Pull the end of the band down, and place one bent knee into the loop, ensuring it won't slip out. Take a medium to wide grip on the bar. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull yourself upward by contracting the lats as you flex the elbow. The elbow should be driven to your side. Pull to the front, attempting to get your chin over the bar. Avoid swinging or jerking movements.
  • After a brief pause, return to the starting position.

Band Pull Apart

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: isolation
Equipment: bands
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Begin with your arms extended straight out in front of you, holding the band with both hands.
  • Initiate the movement by performing a reverse fly motion, moving your hands out laterally to your sides.
  • Keep your elbows extended as you perform the movement, bringing the band to your chest. Ensure that you keep your shoulders back during the exercise.
  • Pause as you complete the movement, returning to the starting position under control.

Barbell Deadlift

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • calves
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • lats
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Stand in front of a loaded barbell.
  • While keeping the back as straight as possible, bend your knees, bend forward and grasp the bar using a medium (shoulder width) overhand grip. This will be the starting position of the exercise. Tip: If it is difficult to hold on to the bar with this grip, alternate your grip or use wrist straps.
  • While holding the bar, start the lift by pushing with your legs while simultaneously getting your torso to the upright position as you breathe out. In the upright position, stick your chest out and contract the back by bringing the shoulder blades back. Think of how the soldiers in the military look when they are in standing in attention.
  • Go back to the starting position by bending at the knees while simultaneously leaning the torso forward at the waist while keeping the back straight. When the weights on the bar touch the floor you are back at the starting position and ready to perform another repetition.
  • Perform the amount of repetitions prescribed in the program.

Barbell Rear Delt Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Stand up straight while holding a barbell using a wide (higher than shoulder width) and overhand (palms facing your body) grip.
  • Bend knees slightly and bend over as you keep the natural arch of your back. Let the arms hang in front of you as they hold the bar. Once your torso is parallel to the floor, flare the elbows out and away from your body. Tip: Your torso and your arms should resemble the letter "T". Now you are ready to begin the exercise.
  • While keeping the upper arms perpendicular to the torso, pull the barbell up towards your upper chest as you squeeze the rear delts and you breathe out. Tip: When performed correctly, this exercise should resemble a bench press in reverse. Also, refrain from using your biceps to do the work. Focus on targeting the rear delts; the arms should only act as hooks.
  • Slowly go back to the initial position as you breathe in.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Barbell Shrug Behind The Back

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: isolation
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • traps
Secondary Muscles:
  • forearms
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Stand up straight with your feet at shoulder width as you hold a barbell with both hands behind your back using a pronated grip (palms facing back). Tip: Your hands should be a little wider than shoulder width apart. You can use wrist wraps for this exercise for better grip. This will be your starting position.
  • Raise your shoulders up as far as you can go as you breathe out and hold the contraction for a second. Tip: Refrain from trying to lift the barbell by using your biceps. The arms should remain stretched out at all times.
  • Slowly return to the starting position as you breathe in.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Bent Over Barbell Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Holding a barbell with a pronated grip (palms facing down), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward, by bending at the waist, while keeping the back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Tip: Make sure that you keep the head up. The barbell should hang directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your torso. This is your starting position.
  • Now, while keeping the torso stationary, breathe out and lift the barbell to you. Keep the elbows close to the body and only use the forearms to hold the weight. At the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a brief pause.
  • Then inhale and slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Bent Over Low-Pulley Side Lateral

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: isolation
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • lower back
  • middle back
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Select a weight and hold the handle of the low pulley with your right hand.
  • Bend at the waist until your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Your legs should be slightly bent with your left hand placed on your lower left thigh. Your right arm should be hanging from your shoulder in front of you and with a slight bend at the elbow. This will be your starting position.
  • Raise your right arm, elbow slightly bent, to the side until the arm is parallel to the floor and in line with your right ear. Breathe out as you perform this step.
  • Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position as you breathe in.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions and repeat the movement with the other arm.

Bent Over One-Arm Long Bar Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • lower back
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Put weight on one of the ends of an Olympic barbell. Make sure that you either place the other end of the barbell in the corner of two walls; or put a heavy object on the ground so the barbell cannot slide backward.
  • Bend forward until your torso is as close to parallel with the floor as you can and keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Now grab the bar with one arm just behind the plates on the side where the weight was placed and put your other hand on your knee. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull the bar straight up with your elbow in (to maximize back stimulation) until the plates touch your lower chest. Squeeze the back muscles as you lift the weight up and hold for a second at the top of the movement. Breathe out as you lift the weight. Tip: Do not allow for any swinging of the torso. Only the arm should move.
  • Slowly lower the bar to the starting position getting a nice stretch on the lats. Tip: Do not let the plates touch the floor. To ensure the best range of motion, I recommend using small plates (25-lb ones) as opposed to larger plates (like 35-45lb ones).
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions and switch arms.

Bent Over Two-Arm Long Bar Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Put weight on one of the ends of an Olympic barbell. Make sure that you either place the other end of the barbell in the corner of two walls; or put a heavy object on the ground so the barbell cannot slide backward.
  • Bend forward until your torso is as close to parallel with the floor as you can and keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Now grab the bar with both arms just behind the plates on the side where the weight was placed and put your other hand on your knee. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull the bar straight up with your elbows in (to maximize back stimulation) until the plates touch your lower chest. Squeeze the back muscles as you lift the weight up and hold for a second at the top of the movement. Breathe out as you lift the weight. Tip: Use a stirrup or double handle cable attachment by hooking it under the end of the bar.
  • Slowly lower the bar to the starting position getting a nice stretch on the lats. Tip: Do not let the plates touch the floor. To ensure the best range of motion, I recommend using small plates (25-lb ones) as opposed to larger plates (like 35-45lb ones).
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Bent Over Two-Dumbbell Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: dumbbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • With a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing your torso), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward by bending at the waist; as you bend make sure to keep your back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Tip: Make sure that you keep the head up. The weights should hang directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your torso. This is your starting position.
  • While keeping the torso stationary, lift the dumbbells to your side (as you breathe out), keeping the elbows close to the body (do not exert any force with the forearm other than holding the weights). On the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second.
  • Slowly lower the weight again to the starting position as you inhale.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Bent Over Two-Dumbbell Row With Palms In

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: dumbbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • With a dumbbell in each hand (palms facing each other), bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward, by bending at the waist, while keeping the back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Tip: Make sure that you keep the head up. The weights should hang directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your torso. This is your starting position.
  • While keeping the torso stationary, lift the dumbbells to your side as you breathe out, squeezing your shoulder blades together. On the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second.
  • Slowly lower the weight again to the starting position as you inhale.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Bodyweight Mid Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Begin by taking a medium to wide grip on a pull-up apparatus with your palms facing away from you. From a hanging position, tuck your knees to your chest, leaning back and getting your legs over your side of the pull-up apparatus. This will be your starting position.
  • Beginning with your arms straight, flex the elbows and retract the shoulder blades to raise your body up until your legs contact the pull-up apparatus.
  • After a brief pause, return to the starting position.

Cable Rope Rear-Delt Rows

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Sit in the same position on a low pulley row station as you would if you were doing seated cable rows for the back.
  • Attach a rope to the pulley and grasp it with an overhand grip. Your arms should be extended and parallel to the floor with the elbows flared out.
  • Keep your lower back upright and slide your hips back so that your knees are slightly bent. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull the cable attachment towards your upper chest, just below the neck, as you keep your elbows up and out to the sides. Continue this motion as you exhale until the elbows travel slightly behind the back. Tip: Keep your upper arms horizontal, perpendicular to the torso and parallel to the floor throughout the motion.
  • Go back to the initial position where the arms are extended and the shoulders are stretched forward. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Cable Seated Lateral Raise

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: isolation
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Stand in the middle of two low pulleys that are opposite to each other and place a flat bench right behind you (in perpendicular fashion to you; the narrow edge of the bench should be the one behind you). Select the weight to be used on each pulley.
  • Now sit at the edge of the flat bench behind you with your feet placed in front of your knees.
  • Bend forward while keeping your back flat and rest your torso on the thighs.
  • Have someone give you the single handles attached to the pulleys. Grasp the left pulley with the right hand and the right pulley with the left after you select your weight. The pulleys should run under your knees and your arms will be extended with palms facing each other and a slight bend at the elbows. This will be the starting position.
  • While keeping the arms stationary, raise the upper arms to the sides until they are parallel to the floor and at shoulder height. Exhale during the execution of this movement and hold the contraction for a second.
  • Slowly lower your arms to the starting position as you inhale.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions. Tip: Maintain upper arms perpendicular to torso and a fixed elbow position (10 degree to 30 degree angle) throughout exercise.

Cat Stretch

Category: stretching
Force: static
Level: beginner
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Position yourself on the floor on your hands and knees.
  • Pull your belly in and round your spine, lower back, shoulders, and neck, letting your head drop.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.

Child's Pose

Category: stretching
Force: static
Level: beginner
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • glutes
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Get on your hands and knees, walk your hands in front of you.
  • Lower your buttocks down to sit on your heels. Let your arms drag along the floor as you sit back to stretch your entire spine.
  • Once you settle onto your heels, bring your hands next to your feet and relax. "breathe" into your back. Rest your forehead on the floor. Avoid this position if you have knee problems.

Chin-Up

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: body only
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • forearms
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Grab the pull-up bar with the palms facing your torso and a grip closer than the shoulder width.
  • As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, keep your torso as straight as possible while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position. Tip: Keeping the torso as straight as possible maximizes biceps stimulation while minimizing back involvement.
  • As you breathe out, pull your torso up until your head is around the level of the pull-up bar. Concentrate on using the biceps muscles in order to perform the movement. Keep the elbows close to your body. Tip: The upper torso should remain stationary as it moves through space and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work other than hold the bar.
  • After a second of squeezing the biceps in the contracted position, slowly lower your torso back to the starting position; when your arms are fully extended. Breathe in as you perform this portion of the movement.
  • Repeat this motion for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

Clean and Press

Category: strength
Force: push
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • calves
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • lower back
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • shoulders
  • traps
  • triceps
Instructions:
  • Assume a shoulder-width stance, with knees inside the arms. Now while keeping the back flat, bend at the knees and hips so that you can grab the bar with the arms fully extended and a pronated grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width. Point the elbows out to sides. The bar should be close to the shins. Position the shoulders over or slightly ahead of the bar. Establish a flat back posture. This will be your starting position.
  • Begin to pull the bar by extending the knees. Move your hips forward and raise the shoulders at the same rate while keeping the angle of the back constant; continue to lift the bar straight up while keeping it close to your body.
  • As the bar passes the knee, extend at the ankles, knees, and hips forcefully, similar to a jumping motion. As you do so, continue to guide the bar with your hands, shrugging your shoulders and using the momentum from your movement to pull the bar as high as possible. The bar should travel close to your body, and you should keep your elbows out.
  • At maximum elevation, your feet should clear the floor and you should start to pull yourself under the bar. The mechanics of this could change slightly, depending on the weight used. You should descend into a squatting position as you pull yourself under the bar.
  • As the bar hits terminal height, rotate your elbows around and under the bar. Rack the bar across the front of the shoulders while keeping the torso erect and flexing the hips and knees to absorb the weight of the bar.
  • Stand to full height, holding the bar in the clean position.
  • Without moving your feet, press the bar overhead as you exhale. Lower the bar under control .

Clean Deadlift

Category: olympic weightlifting
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • hamstrings
Secondary Muscles:
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • lower back
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Begin standing with a barbell close to your shins. Your feet should be directly under your hips with your feet turned out slightly. Grip the bar with a double overhand grip or hook grip, about shoulder width apart. Squat down to the bar. Your spine should be in full extension, with a back angle that places your shoulders in front of the bar and your back as vertical as possible.
  • Begin by driving through the floor through the front of your heels. As the bar travels upward, maintain a constant back angle. Flare your knees out to the side to help keep them out of the bar's path.
  • After the bar crosses the knees, complete the lift by driving the hips into the bar until your hips and knees are extended.

Close-Grip Front Lat Pulldown

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Sit down on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to the top pulley. Make sure that you adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height. These pads will prevent your body from being raised by the resistance attached to the bar.
  • Grab the bar with the palms facing forward using the prescribed grip. Note on grips: For a wide grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance wider than your shoulder width. For a medium grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance equal to your shoulder width and for a close grip at a distance smaller than your shoulder width.
  • As you have both arms extended in front of you - while holding the bar at the chosen grip width - bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.
  • As you breathe out, bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary (only the arms should move). The forearms should do no other work except for holding the bar; therefore do not try to pull the bar down using the forearms.
  • After a second in the contracted position, while squeezing your shoulder blades together, slowly raise the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched. Inhale during this portion of the movement.
  • 6. Repeat this motion for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

Deadlift with Bands

Category: powerlifting
Force: pull
Level: expert
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • To deadlift with short bands, simply loop them over the bar before you start, and step into them to set up. For long bands, they will need to be anchored to a secure base, such as heavy dumbbells or a rack.
  • With your feet, and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and bend the knees until your shins contact the bar. Look forward with your head, keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward. After the bar passes the knees, aggressively pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar.
  • Lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.

Deadlift with Chains

Category: powerlifting
Force: pull
Level: expert
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • You can attach the chains to the sleeves of the bar, or just drape the middle over the bar so there is a greater weight increase as you lift.
  • Approach the bar so that it is centered over your feet. You feet should be about hip width apart. Bend at the hip to grip the bar at shoulder width, allowing your shoulder blades to protract. Typically, you would use an overhand grip or an over/under grip on heavier sets. With your feet, and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and bend the knees until your shins contact the bar.
  • Look forward with your head, keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward. After the bar passes the knees, aggressively pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar.
  • Lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.

Deficit Deadlift

Category: powerlifting
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Begin by having a platform or weight plates that you can stand on, usually 1-3 inches in height. Approach the bar so that it is centered over your feet. You feet should be about hip width apart. Bend at the hip to grip the bar at shoulder width, allowing your shoulder blades to protract. Typically, you would use an overhand grip or an over/under grip on heavier sets.
  • With your feet, and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and bend the knees until your shins contact the bar. Look forward with your head, keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to move the weight upward. After the bar passes the knees, aggressively pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar.
  • Lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.

Dumbbell Incline Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: dumbbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • forearms
  • lats
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Using a neutral grip, lean into an incline bench.
  • Take a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip, beginning with the arms straight. This will be your starting position.
  • Retract the shoulder blades and flex the elbows to row the dumbbells to your side.
  • Pause at the top of the motion, and then return to the starting position.

Dumbbell Lying One-Arm Rear Lateral Raise

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: isolation
Equipment: dumbbell
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • While holding a dumbbell in one hand, lay with your chest down on a slightly inclined (around 15 degrees when measured from the floor) adjustable bench. The other hand can be used to hold to the leg of the bench for stability.
  • Position the palm of the hand that is holding the dumbbell in a neutral manner (palms facing your torso) as you keep the arm extended with the elbow slightly bent. This will be your starting position.
  • Now raise the arm with the dumbbell to the side until your elbow is at shoulder height and your arm is roughly parallel to the floor as you exhale. Tip: Maintain your arm perpendicular to the torso while keeping your arm extended throughout the movement. Also, keep the contraction at the top for a second.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbell to the starting position as you inhale.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Dynamic Chest Stretch

Category: stretching
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Primary Muscles:
  • chest
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Stand with your hands together, arms extended directly in front of you. This will be your starting position.
  • Keeping your arms straight, quickly move your arms back as far as possible and back in again, similar to an exaggerated clapping motion. Repeat 5-10 times, increasing speed as you do so.

Elevated Cable Rows

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Get a platform of some sort (it can be an aerobics or calf raise platform) that is around 4-6 inches in height.
  • Place it on the seat of the cable row machine.
  • Sit down on the machine and place your feet on the front platform or crossbar provided making sure that your knees are slightly bent and not locked.
  • Lean over as you keep the natural alignment of your back and grab the V-bar handles.
  • With your arms extended pull back until your torso is at a 90-degree angle from your legs. Your back should be slightly arched and your chest should be sticking out. You should be feeling a nice stretch on your lats as you hold the bar in front of you. This is the starting position of the exercise.
  • Keeping the torso stationary, pull the handles back towards your torso while keeping the arms close to it until you touch the abdominals. Breathe out as you perform that movement. At that point you should be squeezing your back muscles hard. Hold that contraction for a second and slowly go back to the original position while breathing in.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Face Pull

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Facing a high pulley with a rope or dual handles attached, pull the weight directly towards your face, separating your hands as you do so. Keep your upper arms parallel to the ground.

Full Range-Of-Motion Lat Pulldown

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Either standing or seated on a high bench, grasp two stirrup cables that are attached to the high pulleys. Grab with the opposing hand so your arms are crisscrossed about you and your palms are facing forward.
  • Keeping your chest up and maintaining a slight arch in your lower back, pull the handles down as if you were doing a regular pulldown. The range of motion will be more of an arc. During the movement, rotate your hands so that in the bottom position your palms face each other rather than forward. Return slowly to the starting position and repeat.

Gironda Sternum Chins

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Grasp the pull-up bar with a shoulder width underhand grip.
  • Now hang with your arms fully extended and stick your chest out and lean back. Tip: You will be leaning back throughout the entire movement. This will be your starting position.
  • Start pulling yourself towards the bar with your spine arched throughout the movement and your head leaning back as far away from the bar as possible. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: At the upper end of the movement, your hips and legs will be at about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  • Keep pulling until your collarbone passes the bar and your lower chest or sternum area touches it. Hold that contraction for a second. Tip: By the time you've completed this portion of the movement; your head will be parallel to the floor.
  • Slowly start going back to the starting position as you inhale.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Incline Bench Pull

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: isolation
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • lats
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and lie face down on an incline bench that is set to an incline that is approximately 30 degrees.
  • Let the arms hang to your sides fully extended as they point to the floor.
  • Turn the wrists until your hands have a pronated (palms down) grip.
  • Now flare the elbows out. This will be your starting position.
  • As you breathe out, start to pull the dumbbells up as if you are doing a reverse bench press. You will do this by bending at the elbows and bringing the upper arms up as you let the forearms hang. Continue this motion until the upper arms are at the same level as your back. Tip: The elbows will come out to the side and your upper arms and torso should make the letter "T" at the top of the movement. Hold the contraction at the top for a second.
  • Slowly go back down to the starting position as you breathe in.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Inverted Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Position a bar in a rack to about waist height. You can also use a smith machine.
  • Take a wider than shoulder width grip on the bar and position yourself hanging underneath the bar. Your body should be straight with your heels on the ground with your arms fully extended. This will be your starting position.
  • Begin by flexing the elbow, pulling your chest towards the bar. Retract your shoulder blades as you perform the movement.
  • Pause at the top of the motion, and return yourself to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Inverted Row with Straps

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Hang a rope or suspension straps from a rack or other stable object. Grasp the ends and position yourself in a supine position hanging from the ropes. Your body should be straight with your heels on the ground with your arms fully extended. This will be your starting position.
  • Begin by flexing the elbow, pulling your chest to your hands. Retract your shoulder blades as you perform the movement.
  • Pause at the top of the motion, and return yourself to the start position.
  • Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Keg Load

Category: strongman
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • biceps
  • calves
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • shoulders
  • traps
Instructions:
  • To load kegs, place the desired number a distance from the loading platform, typically 30-50 feet.
  • Begin by grabbing the close handle of the first keg, tilting it onto its side to grab the opposite edge of the bottom of the keg. Lift the keg up to your chest.
  • The higher you can place the keg, the faster you should be able to move to the platform. Shouldering is usually not allowed. Be sure to keep a firm hold on the keg. Move as quickly as possible to the platform, and load it, extending through your hips, knees, and ankles to get it as high as possible.
  • Return to the starting position to retrieve the next keg, and repeat until the event is completed.

Kipping Muscle Up

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • biceps
  • forearms
  • middle back
  • shoulders
  • traps
  • triceps
Instructions:
  • Grip the rings using a false grip, with the base of your palms on top of the rings.
  • Begin with a movement swinging your legs backward slightly.
  • Counter that movement by swinging your legs forward and up, jerking your chin and chest back, pulling yourself up with both arms as you do so. As you reach the top position of the pull-up, pull the rings to your armpits as you roll your shoulders forward, allowing your elbows to move straight back behind you. This puts you into the proper position to continue into the dip portion of the movement.
  • Maintaining control and stability, extend through the elbow to complete the motion.
  • Use care when lowering yourself to the ground.

Kneeling High Pulley Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Select the appropriate weight using a pulley that is above your head. Attach a rope to the cable and kneel a couple of feet away, holding the rope out in front of you with both arms extended. This will be your starting position.
  • Initiate the movement by flexing the elbows and fully retracting your shoulders, pulling the rope toward your upper chest with your elbows out.
  • After pausing briefly, slowly return to the starting position.

Kneeling Single-Arm High Pulley Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Attach a single handle to a high pulley and make your weight selection.
  • Kneel in front of the cable tower, taking the cable with one hand with your arm extended. This will be your starting position.
  • Starting with your palm facing forward, pull the weight down to your torso by flexing the elbow and retract the shoulder blade. As you do so, rotate the wrist so that at the completion of the movement, your palm is now facing you.
  • After a brief pause, return to the starting position.

Leverage High Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: machine
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Load an appropriate weight onto the pins and adjust the seat height so that you can just reach the handles above you. Adjust the knee pad to help keep you down. Grasp the handles with a pronated grip. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull the handles towards your torso, retracting your shoulder blades as you flex the elbow.
  • Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then slowly return the handles to the starting position.
  • For multiple repetitions, avoid completely returning the weight to the stops to keep tension on the muscles being worked.

Leverage Iso Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: machine
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Load an appropriate weight onto the pins and adjust the seat height so that the handles are at chest level. Grasp the handles with either a neutral or pronated grip. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull the handles towards your torso, retracting your shoulder blades as you flex the elbow.
  • Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then slowly return the handles to the starting position. For multiple repetitions, avoid completely returning the weight to the stops to keep tension on the muscles being worked.

Log Lift

Category: strongman
Force: push
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • chest
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • lower back
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
  • triceps
Instructions:
  • Begin standing with the log in front of you. Grasp the handles, and begin to clean the log. As you are bent over to start the clean, attempt to get the log as high as possible, pulling it into your chest. Extend through the hips and knees to bring it up to complete the clean.
  • Push your head back and look up, creating a shelf on your chest to rest the log. Begin the press by dipping, flexing slightly through the knees and reversing the motion. This push press will generate momentum to start the log moving vertically. Continue by extending through the elbows to press the log above your head. There are no strict rules on form, so use whatever techniques you are most efficient with. As the log is pressed, ensure that you push your head through on each repetition, looking forward.
  • Repeat as many times as possible. Attempt to control the descent of the log as it is returned to the ground.

London Bridges

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • forearms
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Attach a climbing rope to a high beam or cross member. Below it, ensure that the smith machine bar is locked in place with the safeties and cannot move. Alternatively, a secure box could also be utilized.
  • Stand on the bar, using the rope to balance yourself. This will be your starting position.
  • Keeping your body straight, lean back and lower your body by slowly going hand over hand with the rope. Continue until you are perpendicular to the ground.
  • Keeping your body straight, reverse the motion, going hand over hand back to the starting position.

Low Pulley Row To Neck

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Sit on a low pulley row machine with a rope attachment.
  • Grab the ends of the rope using a palms-down grip and sit with your back straight and your knees slightly bent. Tip: Keep your back almost completely vertical and your arms fully extended in front of you. This will be your starting position.
  • While keeping your torso stationary, lift your elbows and start bending them as you pull the rope towards your neck while exhaling. Throughout the movement your upper arms should remain parallel to the floor. Tip: Continue this motion until your hands are almost next to your ears (the forearms will not be parallel to the floor at the end of the movement as they will be angled a bit upwards) and your elbows are out away from your sides.
  • After holding for a second or so at the contracted position, come back slowly to the starting position as you inhale. Tip: Again, during no part of the movement should the torso move.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Lying Cambered Barbell Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: isolation
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Place a cambered bar underneath an exercise bench.
  • Lie face down on the exercise bench and grab the bar using a palms down (pronated grip) that is wider than shoulder width. This will be your starting position.
  • As you exhale row the bar up as you keep the elbows close to your body to either your chest, in order to target the upper mid back, or to your stomach if targeting the lats is your goal.
  • After a second hold at the top, lower back down to the starting position slowly as you inhale.

Lying T-Bar Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: machine
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Load up the T-bar Row Machine with the desired weight and adjust the leg height so that your upper chest is at the top of the pad. Tip: In some machines all you can do is stand on the appropriate step that allows you to be at a height that has the upper chest at the top of the pad.
  • Lay face down on the pad and grab the handles. You can either use a palms down, palms up, or palms in position depending on what part of your back you want to emphasize.
  • Lift the bar off the rack and extend your arms in front of you. This will be your starting position.
  • As you exhale slowly pull the weight up and squeeze your back at the top of the movement. Tip: Keep the upper arms as close to the torso as possible throughout the movement in order to better engage the back muscles. Also, do not lift your body off of the pad at any time and refrain from using the biceps to lift the weight.
  • After a second contraction at the top of the movement, as you inhale, slowly go back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Middle Back Shrug

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: isolation
Equipment: dumbbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Lie facedown on an incline bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Your arms should be fully extended hanging down and pointing towards the floor. The palms of your hands should be facing each other. This will be your starting position.
  • As you exhale, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold the contraction for a full second. Tip: This movement is just like the reverse action of a hug, or trying to perform rear laterals as if you had no arms.
  • As you inhale go back to the starting position.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Middle Back Stretch

Category: stretching
Force: static
Level: beginner
Mechanic: isolation
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • lats
  • lower back
Instructions:
  • Stand so your feet are shoulder width apart and your hands are on your hips.
  • Twist at your waist until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds, then twist to the other side.

Mixed Grip Chin

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: expert
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Using a spacing that is just about 1 inch wider than shoulder width, grab a pull-up bar with the palms of one hand facing forward and the palms of the other hand facing towards you. This will be your starting position.
  • Now start to pull yourself up as you exhale. Tip: With the arm that has the palms facing up concentrate on using the back muscles in order to perform the movement. The elbow of that arm should remain close to the torso. With the other arm that has the palms facing forward, the elbows will be away but in line with the torso. You will concentrate on using the lats to pull your body up.
  • After a second contraction at the top, start to slowly come down as you inhale.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
  • On the following set, switch grips; so if you had the right hand with the palms facing you and the left one with the palms facing forward, on the next set you will have the palms facing forward for the right hand and facing you for the left.

Muscle Up

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • biceps
  • forearms
  • middle back
  • shoulders
  • traps
  • triceps
Instructions:
  • Grip the rings using a false grip, with the base of your palms on top of the rings. Initiate a pull up by pulling the elbows down to your side, flexing the elbows.
  • As you reach the top position of the pull-up, pull the rings to your armpits as you roll your shoulders forward, allowing your elbows to move straight back behind you. This puts you into the proper position to continue into the dip portion of the movement.
  • Maintaining control and stability, extend through the elbow to complete the motion.
  • Use care when lowering yourself to the ground.

One Arm Chin-Up

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: expert
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • forearms
  • lats
Instructions:
  • For this exercise, start out by placing a towel around a chin up bar.
  • Grab the chin-up bar with your palm facing you. One hand will be grabbing the chin-up bar and the other will be grabbing the towel.
  • Bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.v
  • Pull your torso up until the bar touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary as it moves through space and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work other than hold the bar.
  • After a second on the contracted position, start to inhale and slowly lower your torso back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched.
  • Repeat this motion for the prescribed amount of repetitions.
  • Switch arms and repeat the movement.

One Arm Lat Pulldown

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Select an appropriate weight and adjust the knee pad to help keep you down. Grasp the handle with a pronated grip. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull the handle down, squeezing your elbow to your side as you flex the elbow.
  • Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then slowly return the handle to the starting position.
  • For multiple repetitions, avoid completely returning the weight to keep tension on the muscles being worked.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: dumbbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Choose a flat bench and place a dumbbell on each side of it.
  • Place the right leg on top of the end of the bench, bend your torso forward from the waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor, and place your right hand on the other end of the bench for support.
  • Use the left hand to pick up the dumbbell on the floor and hold the weight while keeping your lower back straight. The palm of the hand should be facing your torso. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull the resistance straight up to the side of your chest, keeping your upper arm close to your side and keeping the torso stationary. Breathe out as you perform this step. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. Also, make sure that the force is performed with the back muscles and not the arms. Finally, the upper torso should remain stationary and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work except for holding the dumbbell; therefore do not try to pull the dumbbell up using the forearms.
  • Lower the resistance straight down to the starting position. Breathe in as you perform this step.
  • Repeat the movement for the specified amount of repetitions.
  • Switch sides and repeat again with the other arm.

One-Arm Kettlebell Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: kettlebells
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Place a kettlebell in front of your feet. Bend your knees slightly and then push your butt out as much as possible as you bend over to get in the starting position. Grab the kettlebell and pull it to your stomach, retracting your shoulder blade and flexing the elbow. Keep your back straight. Lower and repeat.

One-Arm Long Bar Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Position a bar into a landmine or in a corner to keep it from moving. Load an appropriate weight onto your end.
  • Stand next to the bar, and take a grip with one hand close to the collar. Using your hips and legs, rise to a standing position.
  • Assume a bent-knee stance with your hips back and your chest up. Your arm should be extended. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull the weight to your side by retracting the shoulder and flexing the elbow. Do not jerk the weight or cheat during the movement.
  • After a brief pause, return to the starting position.

Pin Presses

Category: powerlifting
Force: push
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • triceps
Secondary Muscles:
  • chest
  • forearms
  • lats
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Pin presses remove the eccentric phase of the bench press, developing starting strength. They also allow you to train a desired range of motion.
  • The bench should be set up in a power rack. Set the pins to the desired point in your range of motion, whether it just be lockout or an inch off of your chest. The bar should be moved to the pins and prepared for lifting.
  • Begin by lying on the bench, with the bar directly above the contact point during your regular bench. Tuck your feet underneath you and arch your back. Using the bar to help support your weight, lift your shoulder off the bench and retract them, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Use your feet to drive your traps into the bench. Maintain this tight body position throughout the movement.
  • You can take a standard bench grip, or shoulder width to focus on the triceps. The bar, wrist, and elbow should stay in line at all times. Focus on squeezing the bar and trying to pull it apart.
  • Drive the bar up with as much force as possible. The elbows should be tucked in until lockout.
  • Return the bar to the pins, pausing before beginning the next repetition.

Power Clean

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • hamstrings
Secondary Muscles:
  • calves
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • lower back
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • shoulders
  • traps
  • triceps
Instructions:
  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and toes pointing out slightly.
  • Squat down and grasp bar with a closed, pronated grip. Your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart outside knees with elbows fully extended.
  • Place the bar about 1 inch in front of your shins and over the balls of your feet.
  • Your back should be flat or slightly arched, your chest held up and out and your shoulder blades should be retracted.
  • Keep your head in a neutral position (in line with vertebral column and not tilted or rotated) with your eyes focused straight ahead. Inhale during this phase.
  • Lift the bar from the floor by forcefully extending the hips and the knees as you exhale. Tip: The upper torso should maintain the same angle. Do not bend at the waist yet and do not let the hips rise before the shoulders (this would have the effect of pushing the glutes in the air and stretching the hamstrings.
  • Keep elbows fully extended with the head in a neutral position and the shoulders over the bar.
  • As the bar raises keep it as close to the shins as possible.
  • As the bar passes the knees, thrust your hips forward and slightly bend the knees to avoid locking them. Tip: At this point your thighs should be against the bar.
  • Keep the back flat or slightly arched, elbows fully extended and your head neutral. Tip: You will hold your breath until the next phase.
  • Inhale and then forcefully and quickly extend your hips and knees and stand on your toes.
  • Keep the bar as close to your body as possible. Tip: Your back should be flat with the elbows pointed out to the sides and your head in a neutral position. Also, keep your shoulders over the bar and arms straight as long as possible.
  • When your lower body joints are fully extended, shrug the shoulders upward rapidly without letting the elbows flex yet. Exhale during this portion of the movement.
  • As the shoulders reach their highest elevation flex your elbows to begin pulling your body under the bar.
  • Continue to pull the arms as high and as long as possible. Tip: Due to the explosive nature of this phase, your torso will be erect or with an arched back, your head will be tilted back slightly and your feet may lose contact with the floor.
  • After the lower body has fully extended and the bar reaches near maximal height, pull your body under the bar and rotate the arms around and under the bar.
  • Simultaneously, flex the hips and knees into a quarter squat position.
  • Once the arms are under the bar, inhale and then lift your elbows to position the upper arms parallel to the floor. Rack the bar across the front of your collar bones and front shoulder muscles.
  • Catch the bar with an erect and tight torso, a neutral head position and flat feet. Exhale during this movement.
  • Stand up by extending the hips and knees to a fully erect position.
  • Lower the bar by gradually reducing the muscular tension of the arms to allow a controlled descent of the bar to the thighs. Inhale during this movement.
  • Simultaneously flex the hips and knees to cushion the impact of the bar on the thighs.
  • Squat down with the elbows fully extended until the bar touches the floor.
  • Start over at Phase 1 and repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Pullups

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: body only
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Grab the pull-up bar with the palms facing forward using the prescribed grip. Note on grips: For a wide grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance wider than your shoulder width. For a medium grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance equal to your shoulder width and for a close grip at a distance smaller than your shoulder width.
  • As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.
  • Pull your torso up until the bar touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary as it moves through space and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work other than hold the bar.
  • After a second on the contracted position, start to inhale and slowly lower your torso back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched.
  • Repeat this motion for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

Reverse Band Bench Press

Category: powerlifting
Force: push
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • triceps
Secondary Muscles:
  • chest
  • forearms
  • lats
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Position a bench inside a power rack, with the bar set to the correct height. Begin by anchoring bands either to band pegs or to the top of the rack. Ensure that you will be position properly under the bands. Attach the other end to the barbell.
  • Lie on the bench, tuck your feet underneath you and arch your back. Using the bar to help support your weight, lift your shoulder off the bench and retract them, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Use your feet to drive your traps into the bench. Maintain this tight body position throughout the movement. However wide your grip, it should cover the ring on the bar.
  • Pull the bar out of the rack without protracting your shoulders. Focus on squeezing the bar and trying to pull it apart. Lower the bar to your lower chest or upper stomach. The bar, wrist, and elbow should stay in line at all times.
  • Pause when the barbell touches your torso, and then drive the bar up with as much force as possible. The elbows should be tucked in until lockout.

Reverse Grip Bent-Over Rows

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Stand erect while holding a barbell with a supinated grip (palms facing up).
  • Bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward, by bending at the waist, while keeping the back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Tip: Make sure that you keep the head up. The barbell should hang directly in front of you as your arms hang perpendicular to the floor and your torso. This is your starting position.
  • While keeping the torso stationary, lift the barbell as you breathe out, keeping the elbows close to the body and not doing any force with the forearm other than holding the weights. On the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second.
  • Slowly lower the weight again to the starting position as you inhale.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Rhomboids-SMR

Category: stretching
Force: static
Level: intermediate
Equipment: foam roll
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Lay down with your back on the floor. Place a foam roll underneath your upper back, and cross your arms in front of you, protracting your shoulders. This will be your starting position.
  • Raise your hips off of the ground, placing your weight onto the foam roll. Shift your weight to one side at a time, rolling over your middle and upper back. Pause at points of tension for 10-30 seconds.

Rocky Pull-Ups/Pulldowns

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Grab the pull-up bar with the palms facing forward using a wide grip.
  • As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.
  • Pull your torso up until the bar touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary as it moves through space and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work other than hold the bar.
  • After a second on the contracted position, start to inhale and slowly lower your torso back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched.
  • Now repeat the same movements as described above except this time your torso will remain straight as you go up and the bar will touch the back of the neck instead of the upper chest. Tip: Use the head to lean forward slightly as it will help you properly execute this portion of the exercise.
  • Once you have lowered yourself back down to the starting position, repeat the exercise for the prescribed amount of repetitions in your program.

Rope Climb

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • forearms
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Grab the rope with both hands above your head. Pull down on the rope as you take a small jump.
  • Wrap the rope around one leg, using your feet to pinch the rope. Reach up as high as possible with your arms, gripping the rope tightly.
  • Release the rope from your feet as you pull yourself up with your arms, bringing your knees towards your chest.
  • Resecure your feet on the rope, and then stand up to take another high hold on the rope. Continue until you reach the top of the rope.
  • To lower yourself, loosen the grip of your feet on the rope as you slide down using a hand over hand motion.

Rowing, Stationary

Category: cardio
Level: intermediate
Equipment: machine
Primary Muscles:
  • quadriceps
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • calves
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • lower back
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • To begin, seat yourself on the rower. Make sure that your heels are resting comfortably against the base of the foot pedals and that the straps are secured. Select the program that you wish to use, if applicable. Sit up straight and bend forward at the hips.
  • There are three phases of movement when using a rower. The first phase is when you come forward on the rower. Your knees are bent and against your chest. Your upper body is leaning slightly forward while still maintaining good posture. Next, push against the foot pedals and extend your legs while bringing your hands to your upper abdominal area, squeezing your shoulders back as you do so. To avoid straining your back, use primarily your leg and hip muscles.
  • The recovery phase simply involves straightening your arms, bending the knees, and bringing your body forward again as you transition back into the first phase.

Sandbag Load

Category: strongman
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • quadriceps
Secondary Muscles:
  • abdominals
  • biceps
  • calves
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • lower back
  • middle back
  • shoulders
  • traps
Instructions:
  • To load sandbags or other objects, begin with the implements placed a distance from the loading platform, typically 50 feet.
  • Begin by lifting the sandbag. Sandbags are extremely awkward, and the manner of lifting them can vary depending on the particular sandbag used. Reach as far around it as possible, extending through the hips and knees to pull it up high. Shouldering is usually not allowed.
  • Move as quickly as possible to the platform, and load it, extending through your hips, knees, and ankles to get it as high as possible. Place it onto the platform, ensuring it doesn't fall off.
  • Return to the starting position to retrieve the next sandbag, and repeat until the event is completed.

Scapular Pull-Up

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: isolation
Primary Muscles:
  • traps
Secondary Muscles:
  • lats
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Take a pronated grip on a pull-up bar.
  • From a hanging position, raise yourself a few inches without using your arms. Do this by depressing your shoulder girdle in a reverse shrugging motion.
  • Pause at the completion of the movement, and then slowly return to the starting position before performing more repetitions.

Seated Cable Rows

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • For this exercise you will need access to a low pulley row machine with a V-bar. Note: The V-bar will enable you to have a neutral grip where the palms of your hands face each other. To get into the starting position, first sit down on the machine and place your feet on the front platform or crossbar provided making sure that your knees are slightly bent and not locked.
  • Lean over as you keep the natural alignment of your back and grab the V-bar handles.
  • With your arms extended pull back until your torso is at a 90-degree angle from your legs. Your back should be slightly arched and your chest should be sticking out. You should be feeling a nice stretch on your lats as you hold the bar in front of you. This is the starting position of the exercise.
  • Keeping the torso stationary, pull the handles back towards your torso while keeping the arms close to it until you touch the abdominals. Breathe out as you perform that movement. At that point you should be squeezing your back muscles hard. Hold that contraction for a second and slowly go back to the original position while breathing in.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Seated One-arm Cable Pulley Rows

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • traps
Instructions:
  • To get into the starting position, first sit down on the machine and place your feet on the front platform or crossbar provided making sure that your knees are slightly bent and not locked.
  • Lean over as you keep the natural alignment of your back and grab the single handle attachment with your left arm using a palms-down grip.
  • With your arm extended pull back until your torso is at a 90-degree angle from your legs. Your back should be slightly arched and your chest should be sticking out. You should be feeling a nice stretch on your lat as you hold the bar in front of you. The right arm can be kept by the waist. This is the starting position of the exercise.
  • Keeping the torso stationary, pull the handles back towards your torso while keeping the arms close to it as you rotate the wrist, so that by the time your hand is by your abdominals it is in a neutral position (palms facing the torso). Breathe out as you perform that movement. At that point you should be squeezing your back muscles hard.
  • Hold that contraction for a second and slowly go back to the original position while breathing in. Tip: Remember to rotate the wrist as you go back to the starting position so that the palms are facing down again.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions and then perform the same movement with the right hand.

Shotgun Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Attach a single handle to a low cable.
  • After selecting the correct weight, stand a couple feet back with a wide-split stance. Your arm should be extended and your shoulder forward. This will be your starting position.
  • Perform the movement by retracting the shoulder and flexing the elbow. As you pull, supinate the wrist, turning the palm upward as you go.
  • After a brief pause, return to the starting position.

Side To Side Chins

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • forearms
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Grab the pull-up bar with the palms facing forward using a wide grip.
  • As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at a wide grip, bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.
  • Pull your torso up while leaning to the left hand side until the bar almost touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary as it moves through space (no swinging) and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work other than hold the bar.
  • After a second of contraction, inhale as you go back to the starting position.
  • Now, pull your torso up while leaning to the right hand side until the bar almost touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary as it moves through space and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work other than hold the bar.
  • After a second of contraction, inhale as you go back to the starting position.
  • Repeat steps 3-6 until you have performed the prescribed amount of repetitions for each side.

Sled Overhead Backward Walk

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • shoulders
Secondary Muscles:
  • calves
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
Instructions:
  • Attach dual handles to a sled connected by a rope or chain. Load the sled to a light weight.
  • Face the sled, backing up until there is some tension in the line. Hold your hands directly above your head with your elbows extended. This will be your starting position.
  • Walk backwards, keeping your arms raised above your head. Avoid jerky movements.

Sled Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Attach dual handles to a sled connected by a rope or chain. Load the sled to an appropriate weight. Face the sled, backing up until there is some tension in the line.
  • With a handle in each hand, bend the knees slightly, keep your head and chest up, and begin with your arms extended.
  • To initiate the movement, flex the elbow as you retract your shoulder blades, pulling the sled towards you.
  • Take a step or two back to get tension in the line and repeat.

Sledgehammer Swings

Category: plyometrics
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • abdominals
Secondary Muscles:
  • calves
  • forearms
  • lats
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • You will need a tire and a sledgehammer for this exercise. Stand in front of the tire about two feet away from it with a staggered stance. Grip the sledgehammer.
  • If you are right handed, your left hand should be at the bottom of the handle, and your right hand should be choking up closer to the head.
  • As you bring the sledge up, your right hand slides toward the head; as you swing down, your right hand will slide down to join your left hand. Slam it down as hard as you can against the tire. Control the bounce of the hammer off of the tire.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Smith Machine Bent Over Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: machine
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Set the barbell attached to the smith machine to a height that is about 2 inches below your knees.
  • Bend your knees slightly and bring your torso forward, by bending at the waist, while keeping the back straight until it is almost parallel to the floor. Tip: Make sure that you keep the head up.
  • Now grasp the barbell using an overhand (pronated) grip and unlock it from the smith machine rack. Then let it hang directly in front of you as your arms hang extended perpendicular to the floor and your torso. This is your starting position.
  • While keeping the torso stationary, lift the barbell as you breathe out, keeping the elbows close to the body and not doing any force with the forearm other than holding the weights. On the top contracted position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a second.
  • Slowly lower the weight again to the starting position as you inhale.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Smith Machine Upright Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: machine
Primary Muscles:
  • traps
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • To begin, set the bar on the smith machine to a height that is around the middle of your thighs. Once the correct height is chosen and the bar is loaded, grasp the bar using a pronated (palms forward) grip that is shoulder width apart. You may need some wrist wraps if using a significant amount of weight.
  • Lift the barbell up and fully extend your arms with your back straight. There should be a slight bend at the elbows. This is the starting position.
  • Use your side shoulders to lift the bar as you exhale. The bar should be close to the body as you move it up. Continue to lift it until it nearly touches your chin. Tip: Your elbows should drive the motion. As you lift the bar, your elbows should always be higher than your forearms. Also, keep your torso stationary and pause for a second at the top of the movement.
  • Lower the bar back down slowly to the starting position. Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Spinal Stretch

Category: stretching
Force: static
Level: beginner
Mechanic: isolation
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • lats
  • lower back
  • neck
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Sit in a chair so your back is straight and your feet planted on the floor.
  • Interlace your fingers behind your head, elbows out and your chin down.
  • Twist your upper body to one side about 3 times as far as you can. Then lean forward and twist your torso to reach your elbow to the floor on the inside of your knee.
  • Return to upright position and then repeat for your other side.

Straight Bar Bench Mid Rows

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Place a loaded barbell on the end of a bench. Standing on the bench behind the bar, take a medium, pronated grip. Stand with your hips back and chest up, maintaining a neutral spine. This will be your starting position.
  • Row the bar to your torso by retracting the shoulder blades and flexing the elbows. Use a controlled movement with no jerking.
  • After a brief pause, slowly return the bar to the starting position, ensuring to go all the way down.

Sumo Deadlift

Category: powerlifting
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • hamstrings
Secondary Muscles:
  • adductors
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • lower back
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • Begin with a bar loaded on the ground. Approach the bar so that the bar intersects the middle of the feet. The feet should be set very wide, near the collars. Bend at the hips to grip the bar. The arms should be directly below the shoulders, inside the legs, and you can use a pronated grip, a mixed grip, or hook grip. Relax the shoulders, which in effect lengthens your arms.
  • Take a breath, and then lower your hips, looking forward with your head with your chest up. Drive through the floor, spreading your feet apart, with your weight on the back half of your feet. Extend through the hips and knees.
  • As the bar passes through the knees, lean back and drive the hips into the bar, pulling your shoulder blades together.
  • Return the weight to the ground by bending at the hips and controlling the weight on the way down.

Sumo Deadlift with Bands

Category: powerlifting
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • hamstrings
Secondary Muscles:
  • adductors
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • lower back
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • To deadlift with short bands, simply loop them over the bar before you start, and step into them to set up. Ensure that they under the back half of your foot, directly where you are driving into the floor.
  • Begin with a bar loaded on the ground. Approach the bar so that the bar intersects the middle of the feet. The feet should be set very wide, near the collars. Bend at the hips to grip the bar. The arms should be directly below the shoulders, inside the legs, and you can use a pronated grip, a mixed grip, or hook grip.
  • Take a breath, and then lower your hips, looking forward with your head with your chest up. Drive through the floor, spreading your feet apart, with your weight on the back half of your feet. Extend through the hips and knees.
  • As the bar passes through the knees, lean back and drive the hips into the bar, pulling your shoulder blades together.
  • Return the weight to the ground by bending at the hips and controlling the weight on the way down.

Sumo Deadlift with Chains

Category: powerlifting
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • hamstrings
Secondary Muscles:
  • abductors
  • adductors
  • forearms
  • glutes
  • lower back
  • middle back
  • quadriceps
  • traps
Instructions:
  • You can attach the chains to the sleeves of the bar, or just drape the middle over the bar so there is a greater weight increase as you lift. Attempt to keep the ends of the chains away from the plates so you don't hit them when you lower the weight.
  • Begin with a bar loaded on the ground. Approach the bar so that the bar intersects the middle of the feet. The feet should be set very wide, near the collars. Bend at the hips to grip the bar. The arms should be directly below the shoulders, inside the legs, and you can use a pronated grip, a mixed grip, or hook grip. Relax the shoulders, which in effect lengthens your arms.
  • Take a breath, and then lower your hips, looking forward with your head with your chest up. Drive through the floor, spreading your feet apart, with your weight on the back half of your feet. Extend through the hips and knees.
  • As the bar passes through the knees, lean back and drive the hips into the bar, pulling your shoulder blades together.
  • Return the weight to the ground by bending at the hips and controlling the weight on the way down.

Suspended Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Suspend your straps at around chest height. Take a handle in each hand and lean back. Keep your body erect and your head and chest up. Your arms should be fully extended. This will be your starting position.
  • Begin by flexing the elbow to initiate the movement. Protract your shoulder blades as you do so.
  • At the completion of the motion pause, and then return to the starting position.

T-Bar Row with Handle

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: barbell
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Position a bar into a landmine or in a corner to keep it from moving. Load an appropriate weight onto your end.
  • Stand over the bar, and position a Double D row handle around the bar next to the collar. Using your hips and legs, rise to a standing position.
  • Assume a wide stance with your hips back and your chest up. Your arms should be extended. This will be your starting position.
  • Pull the weight to your upper abdomen by retracting the shoulder blades and flexing the elbows. Do not jerk the weight or cheat during the movement.
  • After a brief pause, return to the starting position.

Two-Arm Kettlebell Row

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: kettlebells
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • lats
Instructions:
  • Place two kettlebells in front of your feet. Bend your knees slightly and then push your butt out as much as possible as you bend over to get in the starting position.
  • Grab both kettlebells and pull them to your stomach, retracting your shoulder blades and flexing the elbows. Keep your back straight. Lower and repeat.

Underhand Cable Pulldowns

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Sit down on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to the top pulley. Adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height. These pads will prevent your body from being raised by the resistance attached to the bar.
  • Grab the pull-down bar with the palms facing your torso (a supinated grip). Make sure that the hands are placed closer than the shoulder width.
  • As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.
  • As you breathe out, pull the bar down until it touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the fully contracted position and keep the elbows close to your body. The upper torso should remain stationary as your bring the bar to you and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work other than hold the bar.
  • After a second on the contracted position, while breathing in, slowly bring the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched.
  • Repeat this motion for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

Upper Back Stretch

Category: stretching
Force: static
Level: beginner
Primary Muscles:
  • middle back
Secondary Muscles:
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Clasp fingers together with your thumbs pointing down, round your shoulders as you reach your hands forward.

Upper Back-Leg Grab

Category: stretching
Force: static
Level: beginner
Primary Muscles:
  • hamstrings
Secondary Muscles:
  • lower back
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • While seated, bend forward to hug your thighs from underneath with both arms.
  • Keep your knees together and your legs extended out as you bring your chest down to your knees. You can also stretch your middle back by pulling your back away from your knees as your hugging them.

V-Bar Pulldown

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Sit down on a pull-down machine with a V-Bar attached to the top pulley.
  • Adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height. These pads will prevent your body from being raised by the resistance attached to the bar.
  • Grab the V-bar with the palms facing each other (a neutral grip). Stick your chest out and lean yourself back slightly (around 30-degrees) in order to better engage the lats. This will be your starting position.
  • Using your lats, pull the bar down as you squeeze your shoulder blades. Continue until your chest nearly touches the V-bar. Exhale as you execute this motion. Tip: Keep the torso stationary throughout the movement.
  • After a second hold on the contracted position, slowly bring the bar back to the starting position as you breathe in.
  • Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

V-Bar Pullup

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: body only
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Start by placing the middle of the V-bar in the middle of the pull-up bar (assuming that the pull-up station you are using does not have neutral grip handles). The V-Bar handles will be facing down so that you can hang from the pull-up bar through the use of the handles.
  • Once you securely place the V-bar, take a hold of the bar from each side and hang from it. Stick your chest out and lean yourself back slightly in order to better engage the lats. This will be your starting position.
  • Using your lats, pull your torso up while leaning your head back slightly so that you do not hit yourself with the chin-up bar. Continue until your chest nearly touches the V-bar. Exhale as you execute this motion.
  • After a second hold on the contracted position, slowly lower your body back to the starting position as you breathe in.
  • Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.

Weighted Ball Hyperextension

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: exercise ball
Primary Muscles:
  • lower back
Secondary Muscles:
  • glutes
  • hamstrings
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • To begin, lie down on an exercise ball with your torso pressing against the ball and parallel to the floor. The ball of your feet should be pressed against the floor to help keep you balanced. Place a weighted plate under your chin or behind your neck. This is the starting position.
  • Slowly raise your torso up by bending at the waist and lower back. Remember to exhale during this movement.
  • Hold the contraction on your lower back for a second and lower your torso back down to the starting position while inhaling.
  • Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions prescribed in your program.

Weighted Pull Ups

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: other
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
Instructions:
  • Attach a weight to a dip belt and secure it around your waist. Grab the pull-up bar with the palms of your hands facing forward. For a medium grip, your hands should be spaced at shoulder width. Both arms should be extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip.
  • You’ll want to bring your torso back about 30 degrees while creating a curvature in your lower back and sticking your chest out. This will be your starting position.
  • Now, exhale and pull your torso up until your head is above your hands. Concentrate on squeezing yourshoulder blades back and down as you reach the top contracted position.
  • After a brief moment at the top contracted position, inhale and slowly lower your torso back to the starting position with your arms extended and your lats fully stretched.

Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: beginner
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Sit down on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to the top pulley. Make sure that you adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height. These pads will prevent your body from being raised by the resistance attached to the bar.
  • Grab the bar with the palms facing forward using the prescribed grip. Note on grips: For a wide grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance wider than shoulder width. For a medium grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance equal to your shoulder width and for a close grip at a distance smaller than your shoulder width.
  • As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, bring your torso back around 30 degrees or so while creating a curvature on your lower back and sticking your chest out. This is your starting position.
  • As you breathe out, bring the bar down until it touches your upper chest by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work except for holding the bar; therefore do not try to pull down the bar using the forearms.
  • After a second at the contracted position squeezing your shoulder blades together, slowly raise the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched. Inhale during this portion of the movement.
  • Repeat this motion for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

Wide-Grip Pulldown Behind The Neck

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: cable
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Sit down on a pull-down machine with a wide bar attached to the top pulley. Make sure that you adjust the knee pad of the machine to fit your height. These pads will prevent your body from being raised by the resistance attached to the bar.
  • Grab the bar with the palms facing forward using the prescribed grip. Note on grips: For a wide grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance wider than your shoulder width. For a medium grip, your hands need to be spaced out at a distance equal to your shoulder width and for a close grip at a distance smaller than your shoulder width.
  • As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar at the chosen grip width, bring your torso and head forward. Think of an imaginary line from the center of the bar down to the back of your neck. This is your starting position.
  • As you breathe out, bring the bar down until it touches the back of your neck by drawing the shoulders and the upper arms down and back. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work except for holding the bar; therefore do not try to pull down the bar using the forearms.
  • After a second on the contracted position squeezing your shoulder blades together, slowly raise the bar back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched. Inhale during this portion of the movement.
  • Repeat this motion for the prescribed amount of repetitions.

Wide-Grip Rear Pull-Up

Category: strength
Force: pull
Level: intermediate
Mechanic: compound
Equipment: body only
Primary Muscles:
  • lats
Secondary Muscles:
  • biceps
  • middle back
  • shoulders
Instructions:
  • Grab the pull-up bar with the palms facing forward using a wide grip.
  • As you have both arms extended in front of you holding the bar, bring your torso forward and head so that there is an imaginary line from the pull-up bar to the back of your neck. This is your starting position.
  • Pull your torso up until the bar is near the back of your neck. To do this, draw the shoulders and upper arms down and back while slightly leaning your head forward. Exhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. The upper torso should remain stationary as it moves through space and only the arms should move. The forearms should do no other work other than hold the bar.
  • After a second on the contracted position, start to inhale and slowly lower your torso back to the starting position when your arms are fully extended and the lats are fully stretched.
  • Repeat this motion for the prescribed amount of repetitions.