Q | I want to give my torso a dramatic V taper, but I’m worried that if I work my lower back and abs, I will thicken my midsection and negate this effect. How do I keep my lower torso strong without taking away from my overall appearance?
A | Don’t worry about your midsection overpowering your upper torso. Rarely does a bodybuilder develop such muscularity around his abdominal and lumbar regions that they detract from his physique. Although you can conceivably build up the external obliques to a point where they jut out past the hip bones, even this should not concern you nearly as much as simply adding mass to your physique.
It’s important to understand that you need to develop the muscles surrounding your midsection not merely for appearance’s sake, but for general health. The abdominal and lumbar muscles, sometimes referred to as the “core” muscles, form the foundation to which your limbs are attached. Without a strong core, you will be more susceptible to lower-back injury and age-related degeneration of the spine. The stronger your midsection, the better your posture and the more resistant you become to these common byproducts of aging.
Of course, having a strong midsection is of great value to the weight-training athlete, as well. Without powerful core muscles, you open yourself up to injury every time you step into a gym. From squats to deadlifts–and even to exercises such as barbell curls and lateral raises–the lower back and abdominal region come into play time and again as you train your body. Making these areas stronger will make you an overall stronger lifter, allowing you to lift heavier weights and, thus, build larger muscles, which is what we’re all after anyway, isn’t it?
As far as aesthetics go, as I mentioned earlier, it is quite difficult to develop the muscles of your midsection to the point where they actually detract from your physique. The truth is that deeply etched abdominals actually make a waist appear smaller than does a midsection with little or no definition. The same goes for the lower back. I have heard of a few people who have gone so far as to avoid deadlifting for fear that they will somehow build lumbar muscles that extend past their glutes. This is simply impossible.
I made deadlifts a staple of my back workout, and although my lumbars were known for their thickness and detail, these attributes only enhanced my physique. Deadlifts will carve detail into not just your lower back, but your glutes and hams as well, resulting in back poses that are far more striking than those of someone who ignores this vital exercise.
I suggest performing deadlifts and hyperextensions (another excellent lower-back developer) once a week and hitting abs twice a week, using the high-intensity style of training I have long advocated.
Remember, you can’t make a muscle too big, you can only let it stay too small!
Dorian Yates welcomes your questions on any topic of bodybuilding.
Send your queries to Ask Dorian, FLEX magazine, 21100 Erwin St., Woodland Hills CA 91367.
Visit Dorian’s Web site at www.dorianyates.net.
By Dorian Yates
SIX-TIME MR. OLYMPIA
DORIAN YATES’ OLYMPIA BACK ROUTINE
EXERCISE SETS REPS
Hammer Strength pulldowns 1* 15
(or Nautilus pullovers) 1 8-10
Barbell rows 1* 12
One-arm Hammer Strength rows 1 8-10
Cable rows 1 8-10
Hyperextensions 1 10-12
Deadlifts 1* 8
* Warm-up set
Notes: Beginners and intermediate bodybuilders should perform two or
three sets of each exercise. Yates also trains rear delts with back.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group