Bent Over Rows
Unlike deadlifts, this exercise focuses almost entirely on the back. Because of the bar path and its perpendicular angle to the body, you can also count this exercise as a horizontal pull. As a result, it strengthens the upper back's scapular muscles (like the rhomboids, teres, rear deltoids and lower traps).
Strengthening these muscles pays off in terms of shoulder stability and better press motions, as well as adding the necessary back thickness for an impressive physique.
1. You want to look like you're doing a deadlift right now, when the bar is about 6 inches off the ground
2. The back is still flat and the pelvis is under control in this position.
3. The bar is still positioned between the shoulder blades, and the knees are bent.
4. When executing bent over rows, the only change is that the hands are held slightly broader on the bar.
5. Maintain this stance by rowing the weight to the mid-ribcage while keeping the elbows out wide and in line with the barbell.
When done correctly, pull-ups are great. But many lifters learn the pull-up from coaches who teach it in a way that makes it more of an arm exercise than a true back exercise. And while they may use reasonably "safe" techniques, they neglect key components, like putting the scapulae in the depressed, retracted position through the top of each lift.
Pull Up Technique
1. Start at a dead hang and pull yourself upwards until your eyes go above the bar
2. Pull ups depend largely on how well you can move your scapulae - if they stay immobile during the lift, you can guarantee you’ll end up using your arms for most of your reps.
3. You need to develop the strength to pull the shoulders down while baring the load of your body weight as you hang from the bar. This is the first step before pulling yourself up.
4. Keep your legs down (or bent backwards),
5. Control your descent to a full hang, and repeat.
The lat pulldown is vital for back growth in bodybuilding, especially in light of the challenges with pull-ups. It creates a more secure and controlled environment for technically sound reps that target important muscles.
Though the pulldown and pull-ups aren't as focused on the real mid-back, pausing at the pinnacle of contraction (when the handle is at its lowest) can be humbling. A modest second or two wait can add enough mid-back activation to cause deep muscular discomfort that lasts for days after your workout.
Pull-ups and pulldowns in the traditional sense just pass through this region with little attention for speed control. When you can control weight at your point of maximum contraction, it's a great testimonial to your mid-back strength.