Running Spartan races have showed me the importance of strength and conditioning. Aside from your cure, your back plays a huge roll in the stability and strength of your upper body.

A common body part that is included in most back routines are the biceps, personally I don’t really isolate the biceps  when I weight train by doing sets of curl variations. I feel that pull-ups, pulldowns and rows provide a good enough bicep pump.  I may finish my back routine with a set of preacher curls, targeting 12-15 reps for 4 set, if I have anything left in the tank.  In the past, I’ve had some issues with my shoulder and curtain biceps exercises would irritate it, so I found that preacher curls don’t pull on the shoulder as much as a straight bar curl does.

The Routine

My first must have exercise is the Deadlift, why??? Cause it’s the only exercise that targets the upper and lower body. Deadlifts work the glutes, hamstrings, upper thighs, lower back, upper middle back, traps, grip and core, not even squats target that many body parts.  When it comes to deadlifts, it’s super important to start off slow, making sure you have the proper technique down, you want have near to perfect form in order to minimize possible injury.

When I do deadlifts, I like to start of with a lite warm up set of 135 lbs for 15 reps. Then I move up to a second set of 185 lbs for 10 – 12 reps. Then comes the heavy sets, I go for 3 sets of 245 lbs for 8 reps. With these heavy sets, I like to focus on time under tension (TUT).  Because I’m focusing on strength here, my rest is targeted at 2 – 3 minutes, so I can have a good recovery after each set.

Next I move on to Pull-ups, doing 4 sets of 10 – 12 reps. I start off with a weighted belt for the first two sets, but by the third set, I’m struggling to finish 8, so off comes the weighted belt and I finish the pullups with just body weight. The rest time between pull-up sets is a little shorter than the Deadlift sets, shooting for a min and half between sets.

The next two exercises are the Barbell T-Bar Row and the Lat Pulldowns, with these, I go for the burn, shooting for 4 sets of 12 reps for each exercise. You want to pick a weight where the 12th rep is hard to finish and take no more the a 60 sec break between sets.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling good, I’ll add in a five exercise: the Single Arm Cable Rows or Hammer Strength Iso Lat Pulldowns. For this last set, it’s all about time under tension, we’re going to empty the tank on this one. I go for 3 – 4 sets at 12 reps.

So to summarize, here’s the routine:

  • Deadlifts: 2 warm-up sets, 3 heavy sets
  • Pull-ups: 4 sets of 10 – 12 reps
  • Barbell T-Bar Row: 4 sets of 10 – 12 reps
  • Lat Pulldowns: 4 sets of 10 – 12 reps
  • Single Arm Cable Rows: 3 – 4 sets of 10 – 12 reps
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