‘If you watch Marvel Avengers: Age Of Ultron, there are two things you’ll notice about Chris Hemsworth throughout the movie,’ says Joe Wicks, The Body Coach. ‘First, his arms are massive and his veins are popping in every scene. And second, you’ll notice the size of his back and lats. His wide frame makes every other character look tiny, unless he’s standing next to the Hulk of course (who has a CGI-enhanced advantage).’ The workout below will help you build a mighty back to rival the Norse god himself.
1 Wide-grip pull-up
Reps To failure
‘The pull-up is the king of all upper-body exercises,’ says Wicks. ‘Not only does it put your forearms and biceps to the test, it zeroes in on your lats, which are the muscles that give your back shape and size.’
Grasp a bar with an overhand grip so your palms are facing away from you and your hands are double shoulder-width apart. Contract your upper back muscles to help pull your sternum towards the bar. Then lower under control.
2 Single-arm bent-over dumbbell row
Reps 10-12 each side
‘This exercise allows you to go heavy but also keep your lower back safe, because you rest one knee on the bench,’ says Wicks. ‘This enables you to keep your spine straight and really engage your lat muscles as you pull the dumbbell towards your hip.’
Support your knee on the bench with the other leg planted wide for balance. Keep a natural arch in your back and your core braced. Keeping your elbow tucked in, lift the weight slowly to the side of your chest. Pause, then return slowly. Complete all reps on one side, then the other.
3 Lat pull-down
‘If your back, biceps and forearms aren’t pumped already, this really will be the finisher,’ says Wicks. ‘Make sure you focus on squeezing your back muscles when you pull the bar down towards your chest.’
Adjust the pad so it sits snugly on your thighs to minimise movement. Grasp the bar with a wide grip, looking forward with your torso upright. Retract your shoulder blades and pull the bar down in front of you to your upper chest. Squeeze your lats at the bottom of the move. Resist the temptation to lean back too far to aid the movement.