Chris Bumstead Uses Mind-Muscle Connection to Build a Dense, Muscular Back

The reigning Classic Physique Olympia champion explains how to build a wide V-taper in the waning days of his off-season.

Three-time reigning Classic Physique champion Chris Bumstead filmed a heavy back workout for a video he published on his Youtube channel on Aug. 18, 2022. Bumstead is deep into his off-season, growing as much as possible before he begins his prep for the 2022 Olympia. More specifically, he is improving his back, which he feels is a weak point.

Achieving a wider, thicker back is of particular interest to Bumstead for his posing routine at the 2022 Olympia, scheduled for Dec 16-18, 2022, in Las Vegas, NV. It would be his fourth consecutive championship if he achieved all his training goals and claimed the Olympia title.

Bumstead performed his heavy back workout at the Revive Gym in Stuart, FL. Check it out below, followed by the full workout details:

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Pre-Workout Meal

Bumstead opened the video by scarfing down his pre-workout meal consisting of wild caught haddock, white rice, and zucchini before heading to the gym.

Already starting with the fish because it’s time to get shredded for the Olympia!

Bumstead weighed 260 pounds at the time of this video’s publication.

Warm Up

Bumstead warmed up with some band stretches and wide grip bodyweight pull-ups to ready his joints and rotator cuffs.

For once in my life, back workouts are not going to start with pulldowns…a big change to the program — going to get huge.

Bumstead performed two sets of standard overhand wide-grip pull-ups and two underhand-grip chin-ups before moving on to compound movements.

Wide-Grip Barbell Bent-Over Rows

Bumstead opened back workout consisted of heavy bent-over barbell rows, starting with 135 pounds and working up to 225 pounds. He then backed off to 135 pounds. Typically, Bumstead lifts between 315 to 405 pounds, but he has laid off heavier weights recently to focus more on form as he hasn’t seen the growth he’d like in his back development.

“Focusing on trying to stand up straight, contract my glutes, hamstrings lats, and then lowering to a secure position where my lower abs are really tight and engaged,” Bumstead said. “My glutes are really tight and engaged, so I am not moving my core or lower body at all, and then I bring my elbows in, straighten the bar and slowly row the bar up my leg — kind of in a backward arc motion, the whole time focusing on my lower lat Christmas tree.”

This new and improved form makes lighter sets more challenging than when he threw tremendously heavy weight around.

Feeling a really big ego check today. I’m going to have a Phil Heath 2013 back on stage at the Olympia this year — feathered and everything.

Not only is Bumstead likely safer lifting less weight, but it could result in more significant muscular development from the added stimulation via his improved form.

Chest-Supported Hammer Row

The second movement in Bumstead’s back workout is a chest-supported hammer row with a neutral grip to hit his lower lats and bring out his width.

Bumstead believes his lower lats and lower back are two of his weak points. He aims to improve both for the 2022 Olympia stage, resulting in a more well-rounded package to defend his title.


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Bumstead started with a single 45-pound weight plate on each side and worked his way up to eight 45-pound plates total, focusing on pulling low in a docking motion to keep the emphasis on the lower lats. He performed a triple drop set to close out the exercise.

Wide-Grip Seated High Rows

Bumstead’s third working movement was a seated cable row with a wide grip, focusing on form and tempo instead of weight. His chosen pace was a slow concentric, squeezing at the top of each repetition before a slow eccentric.

Usually, Bumstead would hit another seated plate-loaded machine at this point in his back programming. 

Trying to keep focus on my upper back and upper traps right now, try to fill it out.

Bumstead’s line of pull was intended to add thickness to upper lats and traps via a shrug-row hybrid movement.

Standing Dumbbell Curls and Barbell Curls

Bumstead channeled his inner “bro” at the dumbbell rack to finish his workout with some impromptu biceps work. He performed standing dumbbell curls.

My back is actually pretty toasted, and I went lighter than normal. So the lesson of the day: muscular connection over everything.

Bumstead focused on rotating his wrists with the cue of bringing his pinkies up for a stronger contraction of the biceps. He followed those with standing barbell curls to end his session. 

Chris Bumstead’s Back and Biceps Workout

Below is each exercise in the order performed by Bumstead at Revive Gym during his back and biceps workout:

  • Wide Grip Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups
  • Bent Over Barbell Rows
  • Chest Supported Rows
  • Wide Grip Seated High Rows
  • Standing Alternating Dumbbell Curls
  • Barbell Curls

Bumstead trained lighter than usual but still trained intelligently — he did a thorough warm-up, performed drop sets, and programmed for form and function over weight. He maintained his intensity and volume with weight within a range he could control through his full range of motion.


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[Related: Check Out Bodybuilder Logan Franklin’s Olympia Prep Back Workout]

Bumstead remained steadfast about keeping the weight relative to stimulate the muscle fully. His mind-muscle connection was a feature of this workout so that he could grow a better back for the competition stage. We’ll see if the comparison photos from the 2021 Olympia display an overall improved package for Bumstead after he attempts his fourth title win on the 2022 Olympia stage.

Featured image: @cbum on Instagram