Brandon Hendrickson is a three-time Men’s Physique Olympia champion (2018, 2020-21). However, in search for a fourth title, he was upset in 2022 by Erin Banks. Hendrickson, who holds a lifetime invite to the Men’s Physique Olympia as a former champion, seeks to reclaim his spot at the top and has revamped his training to accomplish that goal.
On Aug. 18, 2023, Hendrickson published a video on his YouTube channel, sharing how his back training has evolved during his 2023 Olympia prep. Check it out below:
Hendrickson’s Back Workout
Below is a complete breakdown of the Men’s Physique back workout:
- Incline Dumbbell Rows
- Cable Wide Bar Pullovers
- Lying T-Bar Rows
- Lat Pulldowns
- Seated Rows
Warm-Up — Pull-Ups
Hendrickson starts with three sets of assisted pull-ups, followed by three sets of unassisted pull-ups. He lowers the assistance weight on each set until he pulls his full body weight. He maintains a wide grip to bias the lats rather than the rhomboids.
Assisted sets allow Hendrickson to pump out more volume. During warm-ups, he trains in higher rep ranges to get as much blood into his back as possible. Each set falls in the 10-15 rep range.
Incline Dumbbell Rows
Hendrickson uses an incline bench during dumbbell rows, ensuring his line of pull derives from contracting his lower lats. He keeps his arm relatively straight and goes from a full stretch in front to a full contraction as he lifts the dumbbell. By not pulling horizontally, his biceps don’t pull load away from the back.
Hendrickson doesn’t need much weight for this exercise, using a 50-pound dumbbell while keeping the chest up, the hips forward, and the feet staggered. His entire form is to ensure the load remains on the lats to maximize his efforts.
By focusing on his lower lats, Hendrickson aims to accentuate V-taper. Earlier in his career, Hendrickson focused more on his upper lats but found better results during his back posing when he filled out his lower lats.
Cable Wide Bar Pullovers
Hendrickson trains for a stretch across his full range of motion during pullovers, meaning that a tight contraction is held at the top of the movement, and a deep stretch is enabled during the fully lengthened position at the bottom. He locks out his arms with the wide bar attachment on the cable machine, bringing the bar down to his hips. He slows down at the end of the eccentric, maximizing his stretch before the next rep.
Hendrickson hits a lot of volume during back training, scoring three to four sets in the double-digit rep range for each exercise. The higher volume gives him a better pump, which has been shown to lead to better hypertrophy. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning found in a 2022 study that “a significant positive correlation was found between muscle swelling and muscle hypertrophy.” (1)
Lying T-Bar Rows & Lat Pulldowns
Hendrickson instructed to stretch until it feels like the arms are coming out of the sockets during lying T-Bar rows with a like grip to bias more load on the back and less on the forearms or delts.
As you come up, pull your elbows. Act like there’s a string on your elbows, pulling your elbows straight up.
Hendrickson keeps his rest between sets between 25 and 90 seconds. He takes longer breaks as the workout progresses when fatigue becomes a limiting factor. He caps his rest at 90 seconds to maintain sufficient training intensity.
Hendrickson’s lat pulldowns are different from most bodybuilders. Instead of pulling the elbows backward, he pushes them in front of his body to limit his trap involvement. This involves a more vertical posture at the machine as his line of pull is straight down from the starting position.
Hendrickson trains with a conventional deadlift using an overhand grip. His focus is on his erectors during this movement, so his lower back appears to flair out with each rep using 70 percent of his one-rep max. He feels lifting more than that percentage would lead to a thicker waist, which is the opposite of his aesthetic target.
At the time of this workout, Hendrickson was two weeks into his calorie deficit to cut weight for the 2023 Men’s Physique Olympia on Nov. 2-5, 2023. He will aim to dethrone Banks to reclaim the Men’s Physique crown. In addition to Banks, Hendrickson will have to contend with former Men’s Physique Olympia runner-up Ryan Terry and the return of former four-time Men’s Physique Olympia champion Jeremy Buendia along the way.
Hirono, T., Ikezoe, T., Taniguchi, M., Tanaka, H., Saeki, J., Yagi, M., Umehara, J., & Ichihashi, N. (2022). Relationship Between Muscle Swelling and Hypertrophy Induced by Resistance Training. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 36(2), 359–364. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000003478
Featured image: @brandon.d.hendrickson on Instagram