Try Cydney Gillon’s Back Workout for Beginners

Seven-time Figure Olympia champion Cydney Gillon has shared her recommended back workout for those new to training and bodybuilding. It can be modified based on one’s fitness level and goals. 

“If you have no idea what you’re doing and you’re in the gym for the first time, this workout is what you can start with,” said Gillon. 

Cydney Gillon’s Beginners-Friendly Back Workout

Here is a summary of the training session:

Seated Cable Row

Lat Pulldown

T-Bar Row

Dumbbell Row

Check out the video below:

[Related: A Guide to the Best Pre-Workouts in 2024, Tested and RD Approved]

Seated Cable Row

“When I start to pull, I use my lats first, not my arms,” Gillon said. She initiates the row by retracting the scapula and then pulling the elbows behind the midline and the handlebar attachment toward her belly button. 

Gillon suggests experimenting with different variations, including the V-grip, overhand, or underhand grip, to target the muscles from different angles to stimulate growth. Position the feet low on the platform to prevent the knees from obstructing the rowing movement. 

The 31-year-old advises beginners to start with unilateral exercises to develop a better mind-muscle connection and identify strength and muscle imbalances. 

Lat Pulldown

A hypertrophy-focused back workout typically consists of two types of pulling movements — horizontal (i.e., rowing) and vertical (i.e., lat pulldowns). The former biases back thickness and depth, whereas the latter improves back width. 

Gillon encourages making lat pulldowns a staple in one’s back training routine and focusing on proper form over lifting heavy weights. Experiment with different handle attachments to determine what works best for you.

Keep the core braced throughout the exercise to limit momentum, which can lead to unintended secondary muscle engagement. Initiate the movement by retracting and depressing the scapula and pulling the handlebar to the upper chest. Pulling the bar to the upper abs can deliver a deeper middle-back contraction.

Image via @vytamin_c ob Instagram

Performing the exercise facing away from the pulley can enhance upper back engagement by eliminating leg drive and ensuring the lats primarily move the weights. 

Machine T-Bar Row 

Gillon uses T-bar rows to promote back width. To keep her torso parallel to the floor, she maintains a proud chest, slight knee flexion, and a neutral spine. If a T-bar machine isn’t available, use a landmine attachment. Gillon recommends using 25-pound weight plates on the barbell for better range of motion (ROM) — bigger plates limit the range of motion when lifting barbells from the floor.

Dumbbell Row

The Georgia native concludes the beginner back workout routine with unilateral bent-over dumbbell rows, keeping the core tight and maintaining a neutral spine throughout the exercise to eliminate the risk of lower back strain. Gillon prefers a staggered stance for better stability.

Following the training cues from the previous exercises, she begins the row by retracting the scapula. While keeping her shoulders square, she drives her elbows behind the midline, bringing the dumbbell to hip level.

“Your back workouts don’t need to be extremely extravagant,” said Gillon. “Stick to the basics and keep progressively overloading…to gain muscle.”

Gillon will aim for her eighth-consecutive Figure Olympia title at the 2024 Olympia, scheduled for Oct. 10-13 in Las Vegas, NV. If she succeeds, she will be the fifth bodybuilder after Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman, Lenda Murray, and Iris Kyle to win at least eight Olympia titles.

Featured image: @vytamin_c on Instagram

The post Try Cydney Gillon’s Back Workout for Beginners appeared first on BarBend.


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