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Get the classic v shape

A well-developed back will enhance the appearance of your whole physique, even from the front. The key to building an impressive back is to develop both muscle width and thickness, which will give your whole torso more of a '3D, V-shaped look'.

Effective back training requires excellent technique and good nutrition to fuel your workouts and promote muscle growth. The back is a very large group of muscles, consisting of three major muscles and numerous smaller muscle groups. To get the best development, you'll need to use a variety of exercises. Although your back consists of many muscles, you can effectively train your whole back by focusing on the 3 main back muscles, this will also work the smaller back muscles. Here's a summary of the major ones and the exercises that work them.

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    The Trapezius (traps)

    Using exercises that hit your traps will quickly add upper back thickness. Deadlifts and shrugs build thick, heavy traps.

    The Latissimus Dorsi (lats)

    Well developed lats are crucial for adding width to your back and achieving the sought after V-shape. Deadlifts, lat pull-downs and chin ups are great to work the lats.

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    The Spinal Erectors

    Developing your erectors will give you lower back thickness and definition, while supporting your back for good posture and heavy lifting. Hyper-extensions and straight leg deadlifts are particularly good for developing spinal erectors.

    Have you found it difficult to achieve that perfect 'V' shape?

    Here are the key principles that will give you a V-shaped look.

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    Eat for growth

    Adding muscle mass requires the average gym user to consume around 500 extra calories a day. If you aren't gaining weight, you'll need to increase your food intake before you can expect any significant muscle growth. If you're looking for an easy way to consume an optimal ratio of muscle building nutrients, without bloating yourself, then Maximuscle's Progain is specifically designed to supply the extra nutrition needed to stimulate gains in muscle mass and size.

    Don't overtrain

    Because the back consists of large muscle groups, it requires intense training to stimulate growth. However, because you'll be blasting your back with tough workouts, you'll need significant rest to recover and grow, especially if you do heavy deadlifts. You risk over-training if your workouts last more than 60 minutes, or if you perform more than 2 back workouts every 7 days. Remember, your muscles grow when you give them adequate rest and nutrition.

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    Use correct technique

    Strict technique is vital to prevent injury and to enhance your back development. Lift your weights in a controlled, focused manner. Most gym users use bad form to lift heavier weights and rarely make any progress! Because you can't see your back muscles when you train, it's important to try and focus on them and fully contract the muscles being worked.

    Train hard

    To increase muscle size, you need to keep overloading your muscle. This is done by increasing the number of repetitions performed during each set, and in each training session. When you hit 10 or 12 reps, you must increase the amount of weight (even if only by a tiny amount), so you start at 6-8 reps again. This is vital to achieve continuous growth.

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    Take Creatine

    Creatine is a safe, natural and highly effective muscle-building ingredient. Creatine will enable you to train with more intensity, recover more quickly and boost muscle size and strength. Maxinutrition's Creatamax Extreme or Cyclone are at the cutting edge of Creatine technology and are designed to deliver fast results.

    Fuel your recovery

    Post-workout nutrition plays an important role in building an impressive back. The pre/post workout meal, ideally 15-30 minutes after training, is the golden time to prime your muscles for growth. The latest research suggests that consuming whey protein before and after you train boosts muscle growth more than just consuming it afterwards, so a fast-digesting protein drink such as Promax is key to preparing your body for the growth you'll stimulate when you train.

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    Perform Deadlifts

    Build your back routine around the deadlift. While it may be a very effective exercise, the deadlift is also extremely taxing, so you'll need total physical and mental focus for maximum results. Because the deadlift works so many major muscles (legs, arms, lats, traps, back and more) it's excellent as an overall muscle builder, stimulating protein synthesis and the hormonal response necessary for muscle growth. Start light, learn the technique and build up your weights. You'll soon learn to love the deadlift and your back will reward you with new found strength and size.

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    The Routine

    Here's a simple but intense routine that will blast your whole back and stimulate serious growth. It's based on basic compound exercises (working many muscles), so you won't be wasting time with lots of unproductive isolation movements. Warm up with some light weights before going heavy, and spend a good few weeks learning the technique or asking for advice before lifting heavy weights and doing personal bests ? otherwise you'll end up with an injury! Perform the workout every 5-7 days and pack in the calories and protein.

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    Deadlifts 3 sets x 4-8 repetitions

    Bent Over Rows 3 sets x 6-12 repetitions

    Chin-ups 3 sets x 6-12 repetitions

    Lat Pulldowns 3 sets x 6-12 repetitions

    Close Grip Seated Cable Rows 3 sets x 6-12 repetitions

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