8-Time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney’s Back Workout Explained

Each bodybuilder has their very own method to physique improvement — it’s some of the charming features of the game.

On stage, bodybuilders are judged by the identical standards, however how they select to fulfill stated standards is at their very own discretion within the health club.

Eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney, some of the profitable and famend athletes to ever grace the largest stage in bodybuilding, constructed his physique and profession across the ideology of “stimulate, don’t annihilate.”

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That form of surgical method to understanding helped Haney develop top-of-the-line backs the game has ever seen, however make no mistake — a calculated method doesn’t imply he took it straightforward within the weight room. Removed from it. 

Right here’s how Haney preferred to coach his again, and how one can comply with in his footsteps. 

First, a Disclaimer

Whereas Haney might have used this workout (amongst others) to craft an enormous, mountainous again, don’t make the error of considering that you just’ll get the very same outcomes simply by copying it to the letter.

Whereas it’s good to have a task mannequin in bodybuilding whom you look as much as, perceive that bodybuilders are skilled athletes like another. As such, they function underneath a distinct ruleset from the common particular person.

What labored for Haney in his prime might not give you the results you want for those who’re simply getting began within the health club. Past that, there are different components at play that made Haney into the showstopper he was. Give his workouts a whirl, however mood your expectations alongside the best way.

The Lee Haney Again Exercise for Bodybuilding

This workout, pulled from Muscle & Health, showcases a portion of Haney’s method to back-building. 

Whereas some bodybuilders most popular a litany of various exercises for every particular person muscle on their backs, Haney’s method was surprisingly easy. 

The Exercise

To carry out Haney’s again workout, you’ll want entry to a barbell (and weight plates, after all), a cable station for pulldowns and horizontal rows, in addition to a chin-up bar.

As you’ll be able to see, Haney utilized customary, easy actions to craft some of the visually-appealing and well-developed backs in bodybuilding. 

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With just some items of apparatus yow will discover in most business gyms, you shouldn’t have any concern following his coaching to the letter. 

Modify (and Progress) the Lee Haney Again Exercise

Notice, although, that simply because you’ve gotten entry to the gear for Haney’s again workout doesn’t imply it’s essentially a good suggestion to carry out it as written. 

Mr. Olympia rivals have to coach more durable than the common health club rat in the event that they wish to place properly on the most prestigious competitors within the sport. That may imply Haney’s again day is a bit out of your league, besides, there’s no cause to throw the child out with the bathtub water. 

If You’re a Newbie

You would possibly wish to think about slicing down on a number of the quantity right here. Haney’s workout as-written consists of 18 complete units, all of that are heavy compound actions that may be fairly taxing.

Taking one (or two) units off every train would possibly make it extra palatable for those who’re newer to the health club, since newbie bodybuilders could make loads of progress off comparatively little quantity. 

If You’re Strapped for Time

You may nonetheless carry out Haney’s again workout even for those who’re on the clock, so long as you’re keen to make some amendments.

Performing the lat pulldowns and chin-ups as a superset (or another pairing, most of them would work properly collectively) would shave minutes off your session and pump your again up one thing fierce. 

Notice that supersetting two compound again exercises will make the latter motion fairly tough, so perhaps ratchet down the load you’re utilizing. 

If It’s Not Sufficient For You

If, in some way, Lee Haney’s 18-set monstrosity of a again day looks like straightforward pickings, you can intensify issues a bit. 

Haney’s again day is devoid of many frequent depth methods that different bodybuilders depend on. For instance, you could possibly end off your final set of T-bar rows with a double (or triple) drop set.

Or, alter the rep scheme on the cable rows to be a reverse pyramid, asking extra of your muscular endurance every time you choose up the deal with. 

It might not be clever to change each single train, even for those who’re seeking to critically problem your self. Begin conservatively and carry out the workout as it’s, then return the week after and dial issues up. 

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Your Again Anatomy

Whether or not you want to prepare like Haney or another bodybuilder, you must have a working information of your individual anatomy beforehand. 

Realizing the ins and outs of your individual physique will assist you to prepare it higher within the health club, irrespective of for those who’re a newcomer or an eight-time Olympia winner. 

Latissimus Dorsi

Your latissimus dorsi, or lats, are the biggest muscle tissue in your higher again. Broad and fan-shaped, they join your higher arm and shoulder blade to your backbone and thoracolumbar fascia. 

Your lats are primarily answerable for creating the long-lasting v-taper look you see in bodybuilding. In addition they present quite a lot of your total pulling energy, serving as prime mover on all method of row and pulldown you carry out.


The “traps” are a three-pronged slab of muscle that sits in the course of your higher again, protecting your shoulder blades and reaching upward over your cervical backbone towards the bottom of your cranium.

The first operate of your traps is to shelter and stabilize the scapula. Your traps will help in drawing your shoulder backward once you row, or elevating your shoulder once you carry out shrugs. 


You may’t actually see your rhomboids simply by flexing within the mirror — they’re a deeper tissue that originates in your thoracic backbone and inserts onto your scapula. Nonetheless, they’re a lot necessary for bodybuilding.

Man flexing back muscles
Credit score: Monkey Enterprise Photos / Shutterstock

Your rhomboids carry out lots of the identical capabilities because the traps, so that you gained’t want to fret about coaching them distinctly. Furthermore, they may contribute to the aesthetic look of your “yoke” by thickening the world round your shoulder blades. 

Shoulder Girdle

There are an array of small muscle tissue that span your higher again. When correctly developed, these tissues create that iconic “mountain vary” look that Haney and different professional bodybuilders are identified for.

Your shoulder girdle incorporates muscle tissue just like the rear deltoid, supra and infraspinatus, teres main and minor, and a complete lot extra. 

Many of those tissues carry out comparable anatomic capabilities (reminiscent of shoulder abduction and retraction), so that you needn’t fear about giving them devoted consideration — until you’re already working on the highest ranges of the game. 

Erector Spinae

Your erector spinae, or decrease again, isn’t only for help. This fan-shaped muscle on the base of your backbone might assist present stability whilst you row, squat, or deadlift, however a shredded decrease again additionally helps win bodybuilding competitions.

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Your lumbar backbone will get loads of isometric train throughout most free-weight compound lifting, however you’ll be able to goal it particularly for progress with exercises just like the again extension or good morning as properly. 

Who Is Lee Haney?

Profitable the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competitors is nothing to sneeze at. However to take action an unbelievable eight instances as Lee Haney did places you proper up there with the best physique athletes to ever dwell.

Whereas bodybuilding icons like Ronnie Coleman (the one different athlete to safe as many Olympia wins as Haney, ever) and Dorian Yates might have ushered within the proverbial “mass monster” period within the Nineteen Nineties, Haney clenched his fist across the sport within the 80s with a extra refined, aesthetic physique.

[Related: Terrence Ruffin’s Off-Season Bulking Diet Revealed]

After his first Olympia look in 1983 (third place), Haney returned one 12 months later to win the factor altogether, kicking off a run that might be thought-about some of the spectacular within the historical past of bodybuilding.

Lee Haney Mr. Olympia Competitions

Haney shares the excellence of profitable all his Mr. Olympia competitions in sequence with Ronnie Coleman, who additionally gained eight titles (1998 – 2007).

  • 1983: third place
  • 1984: 1st place
  • 1985: 1st place
  • 1986: 1st place 
  • 1987: 1st place 
  • 1988: 1st place
  • 1989: 1st place
  • 1990: 1st place
  • 1991: 1st place

Haney additionally gained a string of competitions exterior of the Worldwide Federation of Bodybuilding & Health (IFBB), together with the 1987 Grand Prix Germany. 

Following his resignation from competitors in 1991, Haney was additionally appointed as Chair of the President’s Council on Bodily Health & Sports activities in the course of the Clinton administration, making use of his experience from the load room to public coverage.

Construct Your Again, Higher

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronnie Coleman might have presided over skilled bodybuilding within the Seventies and Nineteen Nineties, respectively, however within the Nineteen Eighties the game all however belonged to Lee Haney.

Haney’s refined, meticulous method to hypertrophy — centered round stimulating the muscle tissue, not pounding them into submission — helped him create top-of-the-line physiques within the historical past of the game.

His again coaching was only one (admittedly integral) piece of that puzzle. With Haney’s again workout by your facet, you’re all however assured to construct your finest again ever. 

Featured Picture: @lee_haney_official on Instagram 

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