July 20, 2011Read: Exodus 4

"The Lord said, 'Throw it on the ground." --Exodus 4:3

Moses was reluctant to part with his staff but when he finally laid it down in obedience, it became the rod of God. Abraham was asked to lay down his own son upon the alter, and Peter was asked to lay down his nets after catching nothing all night.

 You know, we talk a lot about picking up the weights or picking up the pace in our pursuit of a fitter lifestyle, but God is honored most by what we're willing to lay down. What are you holding that's keeping you from living a healthier, more abundant life? Whatever it might be, just know that Moses, Abraham and Peter know first hand that it's alright to let go.



Now firmly in the grasp of summer, most of us are suddenly concerned with our arms and stomachs -- bodyparts that are on display in every tanktop or swimsuit. But no matter the season, one of the most neglected parts of our training programs is the back. Because it's not something you see in the mirror everyday, it's easy to minimize it's importance in your training split. But training the back hard and often not only makes for a stronger, more eye-catching physique but a healthier one at that. Strengthening the muscles of the back makes you stronger at nearly everything else, not to mention "mundane," everyday tasks like sitting, standing and walking. Often, people find that by training their backs, they have less back, hip or neck pain. Go figure.

This week's workout is for the gym-goer who wants a great back workout using primarily cables, which challenge the back with constant tension throughout each move. The back is a tough bodypart but, if done correctly, it can be one of the most gratifying training sessions all week. So here we go. After a good general warm-up such as jogging or riding a stationary bike:

Lat Pulldown: A good place to start, hitting the upper lats primarily, but also serving as a great overall warm up). Reverse-Grip Pulldown: This brings the biceps into play to a greater degree, which is why you can move more weight on this version. And by flipping your grip, you increase the range of motion, shifting more focus to the lower lat area. Wide-Grip Seated Row: This move targets not only the upper lats, but also the middle back, including the rhomboids and middle traps. Swimmers: A bodyweight-only move where you lie on your stomach and extend your legs and arms up and down in a swimming motion,  stimulating the lower back with laser-like precision.

So do 3-4 sets of the first three cable exercises with 10-12 repetitions. On the swimmers move, do 3-4 sets of 15 repetitions (or 15 seconds of controlled reps per set). You can do all your sets for each exercise before moving on to the next exercise or, to add a cardio element, you can perform this in circuit fashion, going from one exercise to the next with little rest.

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