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Weightlifting Workouts - Back

Updated on September 3, 2012
My back after many heavy back workouts
My back after many heavy back workouts

In this hub I am going to described a high intensity weights workout for the back. By High Intensity I mean you will be aiming to lift your maximum weight for all 3 sets, but don't worry you only have to do 6 – 8 reps.


I suggest warming up for 10 mins on a cardio machine of your choice, the rowing machine or a cross-trainer can be good when doing upper body workouts.

In addition to the warm up with the cardio machine you need to complete a warm up set (12 / 15 reps) for EACH exercise, before starting a heavy set, this is in order to reduce any risk of injury. Insure you rest for at least 1 minute between sets.

You will need to complete this workout in the gym or at least with gym equipment. If you want to complete it at home you will need to sub in other exercises that hit the same muscle groups and use dumbbells or bars.

For some motivation check out Erin Stern's back warm up

Workout details

Below I will describe the workout and provide example lifts, please note I lifted these weights after having been lifting for a long time and I am only providing them as an example, everyone must lift within their own range and that may be less or greater than my own.

Each exercise has a warm up set followed by 3 working sets. During a working set you should work until failure, i.e. you could not lift another rep. If you can lift more than 8 at the chosen weight increase it, if you cannot lift 6 decrease it.

1. Wide grip lateral pulldown:

WARM UP: 1 x 12 / 15 (e.g. 12 x 30kg)

WORKING SETS: 3 x 6 / 8 (e.g. 8 x 40kg; 8 x 40kg; 7 x 50kg)

2. Close grip low row machine:

WARM UP: 1 x 12 / 15 (e.g. 12 x 40kg)

WORKING SETS: 3 x 6 / 8 (e.g. 8 x 60kg; 8 x 65kg; 7 x 70kg)

3. Reverse grip lateral pull down machine:

WARM UP: 1 x 12 / 15 (e.g. 12 x 30kg)

WORKING SETS: 3 x 6 / 8 (e.g. 8 x 40kg; 8 x 40kg; 6 x 45kg)

4. Bent over dumbbell rows:

WARM UP: 1 x 12 / 15 (12 x 14kg)

WORKING SETS: 3 x 6 / 8 (8 x 18kg; 8 x 18kg; 6 x 20kg)

5. Bent over rear deltoids with dumbbells:

WARM UP: 1 x 12 / 15 (12 x 6kg)

WORKING SETS: 3 x 6 / 8 (8 x 10kg; 8 x 10kg; 8 x 8kg)

This workout totals 20 sets and so remember that cooling down is important. I suggest 5 / 10 minutes low intensity cardio. If you complete your cool down cardio on a static bike you can multi-task and stretch your upper body while you are on the bike.

I cannot stress enough the importance of remembering to work to your own maximum weights. If you are only starting out you will find that this workout could leave you sore as your tendons will not be used to lifting so much.

If you are starting out why not try my beginners workout or if you have been working out for a while but are not ready for a heavy weights sessions have a look at my overload circuit.

Finding your maximum weight may take some trail and error, it is best to write down what weights you managed each workout and aim to improve on that the next time. You may be surprised how heavy you can lift.

Did you find this workout useful?

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    • isenhower33 profile image

      Bobby Isenhower 

      6 years ago from Crothersville, IN

      Nice workout plan :) I have a friend, she does these competitions and wins most of them. It's a lot of work but im sure you are pushing through it fine :) good luck with your competitions :)

    • FigureCompetition profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I would do 3/4 heavy weights sessions a week, walking every day, a pilates class to increase flexibility once a week and I try to fit in either metabolic workouts or HIIT twice a week. It is good to mix up your training sessions - keep the body guessing.

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      But it's not the only kind of workout you do each week? You do other, easier workouts too?

    • FigureCompetition profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      I only perform this workout once a week and at that I change the types of workouts I perform every 6/8 weeks. You could reduce it to 3 exercises or only perform 2 working sets per exercise - that way you will still be hitting all the muscle areas.

    • dwelburn profile image


      6 years ago from Birmingham, UK

      Good comprehensive back workout; though personally I would find it too much volume, especially if each set is taken to failure. That's tough. How many times per week do you perform this?

    • DreamerMeg profile image


      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      OK - well I see what I can work up to!


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