The Kovacian: Secrets to a Big Back & Chest!

Ever since I started training athletes, I have been observing and studying their unique biomechanics, form, and exercise execution; and there is one reoccurring issue I see ARNOLD-ROWINGwith every single one of these bodybuilders. There are two body parts that I routinely see them not getting a strong mind-muscle connection with--chest and back. Rounding of the shoulders during the execution of rowing movements (for back) seems to be all too common, nowadays. Lifters think that by rounding the back they are stretching the back muscles and they believe if they rotate their shoulders forward as they press a weight to lockout, a greater chest contraction is achieved. But the opposite is true. In any press or row your shoulders should be rounded backward and your ribcage should be held high to fully stimulate these antagonistic muscle groups.

Because of this truth, I've had my clients with these issues start training chest and back in superset fashion to get them to feel these opposing muscle groups working properly and it has worked quite well. So well in fact that I recommend it for anyone looking to get an amazing upper torso pump. If you're properly training your chest you'll get a pump in your lats and upper back so it really makes sense to combine these two bodyparts. When you lower the weight while doing bench presses, for example, you have to strongly contract the back to control the weight and you should keep them tight as you press the weight back to the top of the movement.

Conversely, when training back, contracting your pecs during the extension or negative part of a rowing exercise will keep your shoulders retracted and prevent you from extending past a desirable level. Try this just sitting there. Pull your arms back as though you're doing a cable row. Now, heavily contract your pecs as you move your arms forward. You will feel a point where you can no longer contract your chest without rounding your shoulders forward. This is the point where the extension ends and the pull back for the next rep should begin. That is why I feel supersets are ideal. As you train your back, the load is on your back muscles with self-imposed contractile forces on the pecs. If you, immediately, follow this with a chest exercise, the load is on the chest while the self-imposed contractile force is on the back muscles and visa-versa.

Here's a great chest-back superset workout that will blow up your entire torso and will give you an improved mind-muscle connection.


Incline dumbbell presses followed by close grip pull-downs...4 sets x 12 to 15 reps.

Flat barbell bench presses superset followed by barbell rows...4 sets x 12 to 15 reps .

Low incline dumbbell flyes superset followed by cable rows...4 sets x 12 to 15 reps.

Then finish and tie it all together with dumbbell pullovers...4 sets x 15 reps

So if you are having trouble really feeling your chest and back workouts when you train or just want a crazy pump to shock your body a bit, give this forgotten method a try. It's not a surprise that Arnold, Sergio, Louie and many other champions from their era all had huge pecs and high ribcages. They all did a lot of chest-back supersets in their prime-- an old-school practice that was lost along the way. And remember, there is no school like old school! Try it out and let me know what you think.

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