IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Douglas Fruchey performed a pull day in the gym with bodybuilder, fitness model, and podcast host Mike O’Hearn. Fruchey competes in the Men’s Open division, toting a gargantuan 300-pound physique.
O’Hearn approached the session as a student, picking up tips from Fruchey on his specific techniques for back training. On Aug. 28, 2023, O’Hearn published a video of their workout on his YouTube channel. The entire training session can be seen below:
Douglas Fruchey’s Lat Pulldown Technique
Fruchey trains his lower back first and works his way up. He opens his back training with close-grip lat pulldowns to target the lower lats. At the bottom of the movement, the contraction should be felt most in the lower lats. Ideally, a decent squeeze while pausing in the fully shortened position is achieved for each rep of the set.
Fruchey explained the importance of remaining upright when performing a lat pulldown with the goal of training the lower lats. Staying in an upright position during the movement prevents excess involvement from the rhomboids and biceps to pull the weight.
As you finish, you’re almost pressing downward. That’ll really activate the lower lats.
With lat pulldowns, immobilizing the shoulders for the first reps of a set is crucial for establishing sufficient mind-muscle connection with the lower lats. Immobilizing the shoulders throughout the set ensures the lats are engaged and effectively targeted.
As the set grows harder with each rep, Fruchey allows his shoulders to come up near his ears but depresses the scapula before cueing the pull through the elbows in one fluid motion. He calls it “shoulder, elbows, wrists,” driving each one down after the other.
Fruchey’s Bodybuilding Philosophy
Halfway through the session, Fruchey and O’Hearn discuss the differences between bodybuilding and powerlifting in terms of engineering and biomechanics. Fruchey calls powerlifting or traditional lifting “cheating” because one tries to make it as easy as possible on the body to move a weight.
In the lat pulldown example, arching backward and pulling with the biceps and back is a physiological way to lift something as easily. However, Fruchey specifically doesn’t want that.
As a bodybuilder, Fruchey wants to make a lift more difficult, meaning that the weight is being moved by the targeted muscle group and therefore receiving the desired stimulus. The old adage that bodybuilding is about training muscles, not movements, rings true, as does the opposite for powerlifting.
Powerlifters spread their feet on a squat or optimize form to move the most weight. A bodybuilder’s primary concern is less about strength and more about hypertrophy. Therefore, bodybuilders must feel the maximum tension in specific body parts for aesthetic purposes. This is the foundation of Douglas Fruchey’s bodybuilding training philosophy.
O’Hearn and Fruchey suggest that bodybuilders should treat the lighter weights like they’re heavy and the heavier weights like they’re light. The lifter should remain engaged and focused from warm-up sets through the final working rep.
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Featured image: @douglasfruchey on Instagram