PNBA Classic Physique athlete Jonathan Harden demonstrates a beginner/intermediate back workout to dramatically increase muscle growth and improve posture.
A well-developed back makes daily tasks easier, protects you from injury, and enhances your physique. And a ripped back is especially important in bodybuilding. However, some back workouts are more advanced than others. And a beginner or intermediate lifter will want to start with exercises that aren’t in an advanced athlete’s plan. Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA) athlete Jonathan Harden walks you through an entire back workout geared towards beginners and intermediate weightlifters, along with the benefits of each exercise.
PNBA Jonathan Harden goes by the name “The Muscle Mentor” on Instagram. He’s a personal trainer and natural bodybuilder, competing in the Classic Physique division. Harden recently earned his PNBA pro card after performing at the 2022 Natural Universe on September 2-3, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. On Instagram, Harden blueprinted the beginner back workout plan and said:
SCAPULA DEPRESSION 3 X 15
*I LIKE TO USE A PULLDOWN BAR FOR THIS. RAISE THE STERNUM UP SLIGHTLY, LOWER THE SCAPULA AS YOU SQUEEZE THE SHOULDERS DOWN AND BACK, DON’T MOVE THE ARMS, RELEASE AND EVALUATE BACK UP
PENDLAY ROW 4 X 8
*THE PENDLAY ROW IS A SIMPLE AND SIMILAR VARIATION OF A BARBELL ROW, EXCEPT IT USES A LOT LESS LOWERBODY AND GETS FAR MORE TRAP, LAT AND RHOMBIOD ACTIVATION INVOLVED*
SINGLE ARM ROWS 3 X 12 *2 SEC SQUEEZE
*UNILATERAL MOVEMENTS ARE NOT TO BE AVOIDED. WE WANT TO TRAIN OUR BODY AS EVENLY AS POSSIBLE SO AS NOT TO CREATE OR FURTHER ANY MUSCLE IMBALANCES.
REAR DELT FLYS 3 X 20 + FACE PULLS
*WHILE THE REAR DELTOIDS DO GET A BIT OF WORK IN THE OTHER EXERCISES, I LOVE TARGETING THEM SPECIFICALLY AS THEY ARE ONE OF OUR PRIMARY MOVER MUSCLES INVOLVED WHENEVER WE ARE DOING ANY PUSH MOVEMENTS. AND THERE GREAT TO LOOK AT WHEN BUILT UP
LAT PUSHDOWN 3 X 12
*THIS EXERCISE HELPS MAKES YOUR WAIST LOOK SMALLER BY WIDEN THE WIDTH OF YOUR BACK. FOR MEN THIS WILL HELP CREATE THE V SHAPE AND FOR WOMEN THE ⌛️ SHAPE”
Jonathan Harden’s Beginner/Intermediate Back Workout
Below are the back exercises Jonathan Harden demonstrated.
- Scapular Depression: 3 sets x 15 reps
- Pendlay Row: 4 sets x 8 reps
- Single Arm Row: 3 sets x 12 reps (2 sec. squeezes)
- Lat Pushdown: 3 sets x 12 reps
- Rear Delt Flys: 3 sets x 20 reps superset face pulls
- Lat Pulldown: 3 sets x 12 reps
Benefits of Each Back Exercise
Jonathan Harden’s Instagram post detailed the benefits of each back exercise.
According to Harden, the Pendlay Row is similar to the barbell bent-over row, except it activates more of your traps, lats, and rhomboids.
Single Arm Row
Harden says this unilateral (single-limb) movement will help prevent muscular imbalances.
Rear Delt Fly
Harden included this movement in the plan because he said that although other exercises will hit the rear delts, it’s good to isolate them specifically since they’re the primary movers in chest movement. And they look good once they’re built.
Harden said the lat pulldown widens the width of your back, enhancing men’s V shape and women’s hourglass figure.