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WWE wrestlers Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre joined me in the gym recently for a light back workout prior to wrestling later in the evening. When you are an athlete, you cannot forgo your workout entirely in order to preserve energy for your sport. Athletes must learn how to train in-season but know how to modify their workouts to stimulate without preventing recovery for competition. In this video, we take some traditional back exercises and apply intensity techniques to each to deliver an effective back workout that still leaves energy in the tank for them to compete.
The key to getting more from your back exercises and back workouts in general is to figure out ways that you can apply more intensity to the moves you are doing. This has the end effect of potentially lightening up the weights you are using but not compromising the effect and tension that you are able to deliver to the muscles you are training.
Here, we covered some pretty basic back and lat exercises with the goal of getting more out of each of them. The first back exercise we did was barbell rows. The angle of the back during this traditional heavy pull exercise is critical if you want to deliver as much force and tension into the lats as you can. It is important to sit back and hinge at the hips in order to angle your torso almost parallel to the ground. Taller athletes will tend to have more difficulty with this but it is no less important, so they have to learn how to drop the hips back further.
One of the best techniques available to you when you do get this right however is that you can easily perform a drop set and intensify the set you are doing simply by changing the angle of your body. When you can no longer perform reps of the barbell row in good form when bent over parallel to the floor, you can simply stand taller and take away some of the steepness of the angle of the back. This allows the weight to be moved easier and additional reps to be performed when already fatigued.
Next we covered the dumbbell pullover for the back. Here the key is elbow positioning and the initiation of the move through the lats instead of the elbows. Too many times, people performing this move will let the triceps take over and do the majority of the work. This is fine if you are trying to build bigger triceps but not if you are trying to build a bigger back!
You also want to increase the stretch on the working muscle, in this case the lats, by remembering to drop the pelvis and hips lower to the floor while reaching back with the hands since we know that this will stretch the lats. The lats have attachments on the back of the upper arm and to the pelvis, so it stands to reason that increasing the distance between these two areas will do that.
Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre performed each of these movements with these new tips and tricks and felt immediate differences in the effect the exercises had on their backs. We continued on to perform other back exercises like one arm high cable pulls, seated rows, deadlifts and lat pulldowns. All of these are pretty classic back workout exercise selections and each have unique tips that can be applied to them to help you get more out of every one of them.
When you are an athlete, all of the exercises you do matter. You need to be able to select the ones that are going to give you the best bang for your buck without compromising your ability to recover in time to perform in your sport. The WWE and wrestling in general is a highly physical, incredibly demanding sport that also brings an element of fatigue into play due to the strenuous travel schedule. All of this must be managed if you want to look and perform at your best.
The ATHLEAN-X Training System is literally a step by step blueprint to training like an athlete and getting the most out of every workout you do. You can find this exact plan over at and start seeing how much more you can achieve and how quickly you can change your body by training smarter.
For more videos on Jinder Mahal’s workout and assessment as well as other athlete back workouts, be sure to subscribe to our channel here on youtube at