Not every upper body workout should be focused on your arms. If you want a balanced, strong physique, you’ll need to concentrate on more than just what you can see in the mirror—your back needs love too.
Take it from Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., who doesn’t just ignore all of those muscles. He uses exercises like this incline pause row series to build up a solid, broad back.
“This isn’t the kind of move you lead off a workout with, but it’s a perfect move to drop into the end game, as a third or fourth exercise that finishes off your mid-back,” says Samuel. “This one will attack your abs more than you think, too, if you focus on keeping your hips and shoulders square to the ground.”
To take on the incline pause row series, you’ll need a set of dumbbells and an incline bench. Just make sure that you don’t get too far ahead of yourself with the weights. “You won’t be able to go crazy-heavy with this exercise,” says Samuel. “Take about 15 to 20 pounds off your max incline row weight so you can own the form on this one.”
If you want to try this out at home, check out this set of adjustable dumbbells from Bowflex.
Men’s Health/Eric Rosati
Get on the incline bench in a strong front-facing position, resting your chest on the bench and bracing your glutes and core. Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
Your back is getting a ton of work, but your core is also working overtime. “There’s all kinds of underrated postural benefit to doing this, and it’s another way that we get to teach our abs to keep our ribcage contained,” says Samuel. “Make sure to continue pulling upwards when you’re maintaining that half-iso, really firing with both rhomboids and lat muscles. That continued upward pull and all the abdominal tension you create on those first two stages should carry you into those final squeeze reps at the end. You’ll walk away from this move with tight, controlled posture.”
Add the incline pause row series to your workout with 4 sets of the series to smash your back on an upper body day. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Eb and Swole workouts. If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Eb’s New Rules of Muscle program on our All/Out Studio app.
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