The Back Workout For Serious Strength & Definition | Mike Hildebrandt

Dymatize athlete Mike Hildebrandt adds some new positions and rep ranges with this spiked back workout for added strength gains.
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Dymatize-athlete Mike Hildebrandt isn’t known for run-of-the-mill workouts, especially on back day. Given his exercise-science degree and extensive personal-training experience, he bypasses simplistic templates for building muscle to create one that’s far more demanding but big on payoff.

The entire routine should take 1-1.75 hours. By the end, Hildebrandt says, you should feel the blood pumping in your lats and your back. This workout is not meant for your arms, but if you do feel a pump in your biceps, that’s OK. It’s hard to keep them disengaged.

Overall, you’ll be hitting a lot of major muscle groups with a lot of sets and reps. Once you finish up, you should feel exhausted, ready for your post-workout nutrition—and ready to start recovering for your next workout.

| Mike Hildebrandt’s Back-Day Workout |
Deadlift – 5 sets of 5 reps to near failure, rest 3 min.
Lat pull-down – 4 sets of 10 reps to failure, rest 60-90 sec.
Dumbbell incline row – 4 sets of 10 reps to failure, rest 60-90 sec.
Prone single-arm lat pull (On hands and knees) – 4 sets of 12 reps per arm, rest 60-90 sec.
Seated cable high row – 4 sets of 14 reps, rest 60-90 sec. [We don’t have this exact exercise in the XDB, but the Low Pulley Row To Neck is similar]
Straight-arm pull-down – 4 sets of 16 reps, rest 60 sec.

| Deadlift |
Posterior-chain exercises like this work every backside muscle group from the calves to the upper traps. Start with 2-3 good warm-up sets to get ready for your working weight. The 5-sets-of-5-reps format will provide both a strength- and size-building stimulus.

| Lat pull-down |
Focus on controlling your tempo and using a wide grip to hit your lats. Proper form is very important, Hildebrandt says; otherwise, this exercise can easily turn into a biceps movement.

| Dumbbell incline row |
By choosing chest-supported dumbbell incline rows, Hildebrandt reduces the tendency to recruit momentum and once again bring the biceps into play.

| Prone single-arm lat pull |
This exercise will take you to the floor, with your head pointing toward a low pulley with a D-handle attached. This will enable you to hit the lats from a completely different angle, using a single-arm pull-down kind of movement.

Hildebrandt starts with an overhand grip, then supinates his hand a quarter turn so his grip is neutral at the end of movement. He reverses this motion on the negative. The higher-rep targets allow you to build more detail into the workout—and into your physique.

| Seated cable high row | In another unique technique alteration, Hildebrandt takes a wide, overhand grip on a lat bar, and instead of pulling it into his midsection, he brings it into his neck, almost like a face pull. The change in grip and angle is going to hit all the muscles in your back, with a focus on the middle-back muscles and rear delts.

| Straight-arm pull-down |
Hildebrandt calls this exercise the perfect finisher for his routine because of the way it targets the lats like almost no other exercise. The way it focuses on the shoulder joint and lat muscle makes it the only true isolation movement in the workout. Use a weight you can control so you can hit your rep count.


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