Try these 6 Back Building Exercises From IFBB Pro Justin Shier

Shier uses all angles of pull to build his back.

When IFBB Pro Justin Shier steps into the gym for a back workout, he doesn’t leave until he’s worked every muscle. This gym warrior leaves it all in the gym through varied movements and differing loads. In a recent video uploaded to his YouTube channel on Sept. 7, 2022, the bodybuilder walked his 42,100 subscribers through his process step-by-step with six back builders. Check it out below:

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Pullover Machine

“We’re going to get the lats warmed up and go through a full range of motion, big stretch, hard contraction,” says Shier as he slowly builds up from lighter weight to his top set. The big man believes pullovers are a great way to get the blood circulating through his back, readying him for the work ahead. For someone as wide as Shier, however, he first needs to get seated inside the machine. The IFBB Pro takes his time raising the bar and pauses at the pinnacle before powering it back down.

Once Shier reaches his top weight, he performs a rest-pause set. The rest-pause set typically consists of sets that are one rep from failure, with a short break between. However, Shier ups the ante by doing three sets to failure, separated by 15 deep breaths.

Shier adds a 25 pound-plate to the stack, blasts out 13 reps, then six reps, and completes with a further six reps. “That’s hard,” he shares.

Hammer Strength Lat Pulldown

Unlike regular pulldown machines, Shier faces away from the weight for this variation. He executes single-arm pulldowns, holding the handles towards the endpoint.

I’m able to drop the elbow, right into the hip, as close to the body as possible.

Shier uses this type of grip to focus on his lats without rowing too far, which would bias his rhomboids and trapezius muscles instead. Shier works his way up to his top weight, where he attempts 12 reps with both his left and right arms. To provide balance, he suggests setting the pace with the weaker arm.

I didn’t do that, but that is what I would suggest.

Shier completes a back-off set with each arm, reducing the weight but still aiming for failure — in the 16-rep range with each arm.

Bent Over Rows

 “So, we started with two lat movements, very specific lat movements; now, we’re coming to this bent-over row with the smith machine,” says the former BMX rider. “I would like to bias the lats, [bent over rows are] not really that type of movement. In my opinion, I’m going to work the whole back. Erectors, lats, traps, rhomboids. My glutes and hams are activated because I’m hinged at the hips. So, this is just really a great overall back movement.”

When performing the bent-over row, Shier looks for a fixed position so that he is not squatting or rocking during the exercise but only moving his arms. Shier does three to four reps per set to get acclimated to the range of motion, building up the weight to his top working set; performed to failure — 13 solid reps.


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Seal Rows & Lat Pulldowns

Continuing with the upper back, Shier advises that the key to the seal row is to spread the dumbbells as wide as possible when lifting them, as this will target the shoulders. He runs through one quick warm-up set before jumping into his top set, where the bodybuilder gets to work, completing 15 reps.

Shier targets his lats and mid-back by utilizing the seated lat pulldown machine. He leans back slightly and drives the bar towards his chest. He worked up to his top set and performed to failure, cranking out 15 reps.

Next, Shier repeats his top weight in the fashion of a drop set to exhaust the muscles further, forcing them to recruit surrounding fibers and encouraging hypertrophy. He completes sets of 12, seven, then nine. 

Seated Cable Lat Row

In his final exercise, the powerhouse returns to a lat movement but is no longer fixed on chasing heavy loads as he closes the workout by aiming for 15 reps, concentrating on perfect form.

We’re really dropping the shoulders and the elbows, driving into the hips, and finishing off with the lats.

Shier uses the multi-exercise bar as he says this gives him a neutral handle, preferring the fact that it is a little wider than the traditional V-bar because it aligns with the lats more accurately and relieves pressure on the elbow. This is not a leg press, so the movement should be instigated by the arms and supported by the back for each row. He performs two sets, increasing the weight for set two.

Thus ends this gigantic workout, taking in a combination of movements designed to hit all parts of the back. “The back is a pretty complex body part,” says the gym veteran. “There’s a lot of angles to nail everything. So hopefully, you can learn a little something from this.” Indeed, we have.

 Featured image: @justin_shier on Instagram