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Back Drills

This is an excerpt from Weight Training: Steps to Success, Fourth Edition by Thomas R. Baechle, Roger W. Earle.


Back Drill 2.
Warm-Up and Trial Loads for Basic Exercises

This practice procedure answers the question “How much weight or load should I use?” Using the coefficient associated with the back exercise you selected and the formula shown in figure 5.5, determine the trial load. Round your results down to the nearest 5-pound (2.3 kg) increment or to the closest weight-stack plate. Be sure to use the coefficient assigned to the exercise you selected. Use half of the amount determined for the trial load for your warm-up load in the exercise. These loads will be used in drills 4 and 5.

Success Check

  • Determine your trial load by multiplying your body weight by the correct coefficient.
  • Determine your warm-up load by dividing your trial load by two.
  • Round down your trial and warm-up loads to the nearest 5-pound (2.3 kg) increment or to the closest weight-stack plate.

Back Drill 3.
Determine Trial Load for *Lat Pulldown

If you are an experienced lifter who decided to add the *lat pulldown, follow the directions to determine the trial load.

Based on your previous experience and knowledge of the weight that you can lift, select a weight that will allow you to perform 12 to 15 repetitions. Calculate the warm-up load by multiplying the trial load by 0.6 and round down to the closest weight-stack plate (figure 5.6). These loads will be used in drill 4.

Success Check

  • Select a weight that will allow 12 to 15 repetitions.
  • Determine the warm-up load by multiplying the trial load by 0.6.
  • Round down the warm-up load to the closest weight-stack plate.

Back Drill 4. Practice Proper Technique

In this procedure, you are to perform 15 repetitions with the warm-up load determined in drill 2 (bent-over row, machine row, or seated row) or drill 3 (*lat pulldown). If you are an experienced lifter who decided to add the *lat pulldown, practice it last.

Review the photos and instructions for the exercise, focusing on proper grip and body positioning. Visualize the movement pattern through the full range of motion. Perform the movement with a slow, controlled velocity, remembering to exhale through the sticking point. Ask a qualified professional to observe and assess your technique.

Success Check

  • Check movement pattern.
  • Check velocity.
  • Check breathing.

Back Drill 5. Determine Training Load

This practice procedure will help you determine an appropriate training load designed to produce 12 to 15 repetitions. For basic exercises, perform as many repetitions as possible with the calculated trial load from drill 2. Make sure that you perform the repetitions correctly. If you are doing the free-weight bent-over row, also check that your hips are lower than your back and that the bar touches at or near the nipples.

If you performed 12 to 15 repetitions with the trial load, then your trial load is your training load. Record this weight as your training load for this exercise in the workout chart. If you did not perform 12 to 15 repetitions, go to drill 6 to make adjustments to the load.

Success Check

  • Check that you are using the correct load.
  • Maintain proper and safe technique during each repetition.

Back Drill 6. Make Needed Load Adjustments

If you performed fewer than 12 repetitions with your trial load, the load is too heavy, and you need to lighten it. On the other hand, if you performed more than 15 repetitions, the trial load is too light, and you need to increase it. Use figure 5.7 to determine the adjustment you need to make and the formula for making load adjustments.

Success Check

  • Check correct use of load adjustment chart (figure 5.7).
  • Write in your training load on the workout chart.


Read more from Weight Training: Steps to Success, Fourth Edition by Thomas R. Baechle, Roger W. Earle.



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