Kai Greene On Back Training

 

By Greg Merritt Flex

 

He’s No. 2 now. In all of the world, there is only one bodybuilder ahead of Kai Greene,and that’s the man he finished second to at the last two Olympias: Phil Heath. No. 2’s greatest advantage over No. 1 is lat width. It wins him the rear-relaxed shot. On theother hand, one of the things the current Mr. O has over the top contender is backseparation—especially in the lower traps. That and Heath’s fuller delts win him the rear double biceps. Rear lat spread is a toss-up—Greene is wider, Heath features more density and details, especially mid-back.

 

Greene knows what he needs to do to improve his back poses: Beef up his traps, rear delts, and the smaller muscles of his upper back. Kai is hard at work on these improvements and he filled us in on the 10 principles behind his unique back workouts.

 

1. WARMUP: The most unorthodox aspectof Greene’s back training is evident before the workout even begins, when he warms up for 15 minutes with trisets of various exercises, including bent over dumbbell rear laterals (which focus on the rear deltoids), upright rows (which focus on the traps),and dips (which target thechest as well as the front delts and triceps). In one workout we observed, he did six warmup exercises: trisets of wide-grip pullups, dips, and parallel-grip pullups followed by trisets of rear laterals, upright rows, and straight-arm pulldowns. Weights are kept light, and the sets fall well short of failure.“This is just to get the blood flowing and get my mind into it and kick things off,” he says of the warmup exercise selection.Greene never thinks of one bodypart in isolation. He’s always focused on the complete pictureof his physique, thus he’ll include dips with pullups, and he’ll string together work for rear deltsand traps with lats. “I’m alwaysthinking of different ways of contracting my muscles and getting the most effective rear doublebiceps and rear lat spread.”

 

2. EXERCISE SELECTION: Another purpose of Greene’s warmup trisets is to feel how his various muscles are working together. This helps determine which exercises he’ll select and in what order he’ll perform them. Before he enters the gym, he has a rough idea of how the workout will go. As he warms up, it comes into focus. “I’m not doing the warm ups just to go through the motions. I’m focused on the task ahead of me. I’m taking a mental inventory, to work my back from the top of my traps all the way down my spine to just above my glutes.The feedback I get from my body determines what exercises I do and in what order I choose to do them.” Lately, he’s been selecting more rows (mostly for thickness) than pulldowns andchins (mostly for width). This is because his low-hanging lats fan out like a golf umbrella. He doesn’t need more width, but he wants more upper-back density.

 

3. WEIGHT: Greene is ludicrously strong. We watched him rep out 495-poundbench presses in August 2010. But, especially when it comes to back, he’s more concerned with the feeling of his muscles working than the amount of metal he moves. “I go by feel. Rather than have to lift a house or the entire gym, I figured it was better to be led by feel and try to make some really sharp connections with the muscles I’m trying to hit. The weight is just a tool. If you’re trying to hammer a nail, do you focus on the hammeror the nail? You better focus on the thing you’re trying to hit—the nail— and not the tool for hitting that thing—the hammer. It’s the same with bodybuilding training. Focus on the thing you’re trying to hit, your muscle, and not the tool for hitting that thing, the weight.”

 

4. REPS: As with most of the factors in Greene’s back workouts, the amount of reps he does each set is largely a matter of feel. He rarely goes under 10, but he may do more than 20. “It just depends on how Ifeel,” the world’s No. 2 bodybuilder says. “I don’t go into a set knowing precisely how many reps I want to get because I don’t want to set limits on what I can achieve. I go by feel, and I let my muscles determine how many reps I get without my mind telling them what they can and can’t do. Your muscles are capable of so much more than your mind imagines.”

 

5. CONTRACTIONS: “When I’m doing machine rows, I’m thinking about the contractions. I can control machine rows better and focus more on the contractions than I can when I do barbell rows. I do barbell rows, but I’ve been emphasizing machine rows morerecently because I want to isolate my inner lats, middle traps, and rear delts more. Those are my target areas, and you hit those more by pulling your elbows back as far as possible on rows and getting those really strong contractions that you can feel down deep in the fibers.”

 

6. STRETCH: Greene also emphasizes the stretches of each rep. This is especially true of the one-arm dumbbell row, where he has no regard for how much weight he uses but instead turns it into a supreme isolation exercise. He gets a full stretch on each rep so he feels a tug on the muscles of his middle back (lower traps). “While doing the one-arm dumbbell rows, my traps and rear delts can work a lot, and I’m doing this movement primarily to address the need for development in those areas,” he explains. “I don’t do any half reps. A lot of people cut out the contractions and stretches and work that middle area of reps. To me, the stretches and contractions are the hardest parts of reps, especially when training back. So I always put a special emphasis on the stretches at the start of reps and the contractions at the end of reps.”

 

7. MIND-MUSCLE CONNECTION: This is a crucial component of all Greene’s workouts, and it’s vitally important when training back because you typically can’t see the muscles working. Instead, you have to feel them working. “The mind- muscle connection is the No. 1 factor in training. You develop it over time by posing your muscle, and also by paying close attention to how your muscles feel when you work them. Eventually, you get to where your mind can read the feedback your muscles are providing, and your muscles can react to the stimulus your mind is providing. Practice posing between sets or anytime. And feel your muscles working throughout your sets. Eventually, your mind and muscles will speak the same language and communicate back and forth.”

 

8. ISO-TENSION: Posing isn’t just crucial for the mind-muscle connection, it’s also a form of exercise. “I’ll often flex my muscles between sets. That iso-tension effect lets me hit muscle fibers that the set may miss, and it lets me target those muscle fibers in my next set. Posing isn’t just something you do on a stage in front of an audience. It should be part of your bodybuilding program for hitting those areas like the inner lats, rhomboids, and rear delts. Sometimes the best way to really activate those muscles is to consciously flex them during a set, after a set, and after your workout.”

 

9. SYNERGY: Greene typically ends his back workouts with deadlifts. Because his back is already pre-exhausted by his other exercises and because he does 12–15 reps per set, he needs to go up to only 405 pounds on deads. “I’m not trying to lift the whole gym,” he says.“I’m just trying to work the muscles I’m targeting that day. I think about my spinal erectors. I think about my lats. I think about my traps and rear delts. For most people, deadlifts are just about picking up a weight and putting it down. But for me it’s about working my backfrom the top to the bottom and getting the muscles to work synergistically. My whole back comes alive during deadlifts, and I’m able to contract very intensely with each rep. I like to put it at the end of my workout because it allows me, while doing each rep, to mentally walk through and revisit every muscle that I’ve trained in the back routine before then.”

 

10. VISUALIZATION: This is a crucial component to every Greene workout. He visualizes how sets will progress as well as how he wants his muscles to grow over time.“Visualization is an essential bodybuilding tool, but also an essentialtool for success for life in general,” No.2 explains. “In order to achieve something great you first have to be able to see yourself achieving that thing.”What Greene is visualizing before and during every back workout is the next time he will be standing next to Phil Heath with his back to the judges and both men strike a rear double biceps followed by a rear lat spread. He’s visualizing the new muscle, new separation between the muscles, new details in the muscles. He’s visualizing winning what are generally regarded as the two most crucial poses inany bodybuilding contest—the rearshots—in what everyone regards as the ultimate bodybuilding contest: the Mr.Olympia. And he’s visualizing a triumph over his ***** that results in him being the last man standing.

 

Source: http://www.flexonline.com/training/k…ack-principles

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