Figure competitor Julie Michaelson provides nutrition advice, and an incredible back workout along with training tips.
Workout Summary
  • Main Goal
    Build Muscle
  • Workout Type
    Single Muscle Group
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration8 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout30-45 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Machines
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

Workout Description

Julie Michaelson Pull UpsLats: they can make you or break you as a figure competitor. I remember my first competition, standing on stage, hearing people in the audience frantically yelling “OPEN!!! OPEN!!!” I remember being in my back pose on that stage, thinking…”wow, somebody up here really needs to get their lats out.” Lo and behold, that somebody was ME! The bigger issue, however, was that in addition to getting my lats “out”, I just needed to get some lats. Period.

I began my quest to grow my lats (aka: wings) and in 12 months time had added 5 inches of width to my back, naturally, with heavy weight and proper nutrition. Of course, in order to gain muscle, we ladies need to eat a surplus of calories to obtain the growth. That surplus must be the right kind of calories, it’s not simply a license to eat!

The most important nutritional tip for gaining muscle that I can offer is proper post-workout nutrition and supplementation. I have had great results using Scivation’s Xtend. I sip on this during a lift and during cardio. For my post-workout shake I drink 1-2 scoops of Elite Dymatize Whey with Zico Coconut Water, a great natural source of carbs and electrolytes.

The key to a killer lat workout is first knowing how to isolate the lats. For many women, this is a hard muscle to connect with in the mind. It helps to do some “lat-activation” exercises at the beginning of the workout. It’s so easy to use the biceps and other assisting muscle groups when training the back muscles. Real growth comes when you are truly isolating the muscle group you are using which means forming a solid mind-muscle connection.

My favorite “lat-activation” exercise is done by hanging from a pull up/chin up bar and simply using just the lats to move the body. At first you will likely only move just a couple of inches. Go from a dead hang, then use just the lats to create the movement upward. Do 3-5 reps like this, slow and controlled, doing a total of 3 sets before beginning the workout.

The following workout should be performed with the heaviest weight you can lift with PROPER form. Proper form is critical! To really focus on that mind-muscle connection with your back muscles, you don’t want to be using speed and momentum to move the weights. Slow and controlled. This workout should be intense, meaning heavy with short rest intervals. I like to take 60 seconds rests between sets but sometimes will stretch it to 90 seconds if I’m trying to add load. This is a great workout for a 5 day split. If back is your lagging body part move the back workout to the first day of your training week.

Growing Wings Back Workout
Back Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Wide Grip Pull Up 5 8 to 10
Wide Grip Lat Pull Down 4 10
Hammer Strength Unilateral High Row 4 10
Seated Cable Row - Narrow Grip 4 12
One Arm Dumbbell Row 3 12
Straight Arm Lat Pull Down 3 15
Posted on: Sat, 08/09/2014 - 19:48

I love it. Three weeks in and I'm loving this plan. My previous plans weren't working.

Mounir Chadid
Posted on: Fri, 11/15/2013 - 07:16

Do you have special program or class to implement this programme.

Posted on: Thu, 04/18/2013 - 22:56

Are all the workout examples listed meant to be done in one workout session?

Posted on: Tue, 03/06/2012 - 17:50

Hi Steve! Please tell me an alternative for "Hammer Strength Unilateral High Row", because this machine is not available in my gym. If possible, also tell an alternative for "Straight Arm Lat Pull Down". Can "Lying T-Bar Row" be added instead of any one of these exercises?

Posted on: Thu, 10/20/2011 - 06:34

I love working my back. I lost 150# over 1 1/2 yrs ago am 5' tall and weigh 110# looking nothing like I used to as I have been lifting for over 1 year. My body has completely changed. I am concerned with the fact that you added 5" to your back I can't afford to get wider, I'll be as wide as I am tall any suggestions? Also what about just using free weights as I cannot get or afford the gym? Great Look and workout.

Posted on: Wed, 09/21/2011 - 09:59

does this exercise for man to ?

Posted on: Sun, 06/19/2011 - 12:02

Iv had problems isolating lats when training my back back. Today i Lowerd the weight I lift and done this work out really focusing on just using lats, really happy with results can fells like back has had a work out for a change will be doing this more often.

Posted on: Mon, 11/29/2010 - 02:56

Hi i was wondering what hammer strength unilateral high rows are. And good article.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 12/02/2010 - 13:34

Hammer Strength makes a popular line of exercise equipment. One arm rows are simply one arm machine rows.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 06/30/2010 - 10:28

Great article Julie!

Posted on: Thu, 06/24/2010 - 16:23

Great article and awesome back picture!!

Posted on: Wed, 06/23/2010 - 22:37

Good job Julie! Nice article! I like the lat activation exercise as a pre-lift warm up! Bren

Posted on: Mon, 07/11/2011 - 18:58

I heart Brendin