Recently out of curiosity I decided to experiment and see which movements work my muscles best from a hypertrophy perspective.
Not exactly very scientific but to keep it simple, I just used muscle soreness as my KPI for how effective the movement was. Basically the more sore the muscle was, the better the movement (I know this is flawed).
I kept sets and reps the same and I moved between a different movement each week.
I would then just blast that single movement for that particular week doing 8 work sets of 8-15 reps after warm ups. To start with, I have been focusing on upper back thickness.
The movements I tested were:
- Chest supported T-Bar rows
- Cable rows
- Bent over rows
- DB rows
- Free weight T-Bar rows
There were two stand out winners here, bent over rows and free weight T-Bar rows. Both these movements left me as sore as hell. Weird though, as I thought the chest supported T-Bar rows would be better as it would allow me to focus more on the contraction but these I found left me with a great pump but not much muscle soreness afterwards?
I think the Free weight T-Bar rows are the winner just because I find them less stressful on my lower back and if my legs are knackered after a heavy legs days, I can still move some decent weight on this compared to bent rows where I would need to significantly reduce the weight.
I remember Arnold wrote about this in his encyclopedia, so nothing that hasn’t been done before. Saying that it was a good learning experience and gave me very good insights into which movements provided the most bang for their buck.
Going forward I’m just going to use the free weight T-Bar rows as my sole back thickness movement to see what happens long term – these kind of experiments give a little spin to training and makes it a bit more interesting.
I thinks as long as I increase the weight when appropriate I should continue to get a lot of benefit out of these. I remember back in da day when I used to train at home, all I had was a barbell and a pull up bar and I manage to build up a pretty decent upper back just by doing chins/pull ups and a tonne of bent rows.
Sometimes you get a bit spoiled with all the fancy equipment in the gym and it helps to take a step back and remember what worked in the first place – going back to basics and lovin it!
Don’t forget everyone is different, give it a go and see what movements work best for you.