If you're looking for a stronger back, put these exercises, tips and techniques to use in your workout.

How To Get a Thick Neck.

man-muscular-neckSure, a strong, thick neck can look great. But it’s also a great way to help guard against injury and enhance performance.

First, it’s worth noting that proper form and supervision is an absolute must. If your necks becomes overstressed and strained, the training can be counterproductive or even dangerous. It’s important to work with a professional and to consult your physician.

If a bigger, thicker and stronger neck is one of your fitness goals, then I recommend shrugs. Though it’s a classic, time-tested exercise, many people cheat their way through it. Here’s how you perform a proper shrug:

  1. Select a pair of dumbbells that will allow you to do around 8 shrugs. If you can do 15 shrugs, it’s too light to build muscle.
  2. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand. Stand in an athletic stance with a slight bend in your knees. Your back should be straight and your abs should be engaged. Keep your shoulders back.
  3. Shrug upwards and backwards as though you were trying to simultaneously touch both shoulders to your ears. When you get to the top of the movement, try to pull your shoulders backwards an extra inch.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position in a controlled manner. Don’t bounce or let momentum help you into the next repetition.
  5. Repeat.
  6. Lastly, make sure you increase the amount of resistance you use over time. If you start with 40 pound dumbbells, go up to 45 and then 50. You need to progressively overload your muscles to increase their size and strength.

Shrugs are great at training your trapezius muscle. It’s the large muscles that spans your neck, shoulders and top of your back. As it gets bigger and more developed, the girth of your neck will increase.

In addition, an exercise called neck curls can be beneficial. To perform neck curls, lie down on a bench. Face upwards, let your neck and head overhang the edge of the bench. Hold a weight plate against your forehead, and curl your neck upward. It’s like performing a crunch with your neck. Go slowly, be gentle and don’t overdo it. It’s not worth risking an injury.



5 Most Important Exercises.

There are no shortage of exercises to add variety to you workout - and switching things up can prevent a stale workout and plateaued results. By incorporating kettlebells, changing the base of stability, taking a new class or trying new exercises, it’s easy to keep you workout fresh and challenging.

Having said that, there are five tried and true exercises that every workout regime should include. These exercises have passed the test of time and have been used by bodybuilders, powerlifters and workout enthusiasts for generations.

  1. Bench press. The godfather of strength training, any gym worth your time will have a handful of bench presses. Some are flat, some are inclined and some are declined - but all are a great way to build strong and powerful chest muscles. In fact, the bench press is one of the three lifts in the sport of powerlifting. Though this exercise primarily works your pectoralis major muscle (i.e., your pecs), supporting muscles like the anterior deltoids, serratus anterior, coracobrachialis, scapulae fixers, trapezii, and the triceps are also trained.
  2. Barbell bicep curl. Of all the bicep exercises that I’ve tried, none compare in their effectiveness to the barbell bicep curl. By adding a barbell, you’re able to increase the amount of resistance that your muscles work against - and the results speak for themselves. Though you’ll primarily work your biceps brachii muscles, your brachialis (lower biceps) and brachioradialis (forearm) are also trained.
  3. Squats. Want a bigger and stronger butt? No exercise compares to the squat in its effectiveness. Also performed in powerlifting, squats primarily work your gluteus maximus, quadriceps and hamstrings. Your erector spinae, transverse abdominus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, adductors, soleus and gastrocnemius will also get some love. Proper form is essential for a safe and effective squat, so it’s important to do your homework or consult with a trainer before you jump into your gym’s squat rack or power cage.
  4. Shoulder press. Sometimes called the overhead press, there are innumerable variations of this popular exercise. In terms of building size or strength, there are no shoulder exercises that can touch the effectiveness of a good barbell or dumbbell shoulder press. Specially, this exercise is great for your deltoids - but it also engages your triceps brachii and trapezius muscles.
  5. Deadlift. Also one of the three powerlifting exercises, the deadlift is a compound exercise that engages a large number of muscles including your latissimus dorsi, trapezius, erector spinae, gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexors. In other words, your leg, butt and back muscles will all be screaming after a good set of deadlifts. Even your forearms, to a lesser degree, and obliques will be engaged. Though the deadlift is extremely effective, it’s not for everyone. For individuals with back injuries or certain joint issues, other exercises may be a better fit.

Of course, you don’t want to do each of these exercises in every workout. It’s best to break your gym sessions out so that each workout targets different muscle groups. Incorporate the bench press on a chest day, the barbell bicep curl on arm days and so on.

In my opinion, these are the top five exercises to include in any workout regime - but I’d love to hear what you think. Which five exercises top your list? Let me know in the comments below.

Lower Back Dimple / Venus Dimple Workout.

Of all the hundreds and hundreds of posts that I’ve written about meaningful topics, none have had as many views as a silly article that I wrote about getting back dimples. Also known as Venus dimples, these are the sexy impressions that you’ll see on the backsides of some men and women. And, apparently, they’re in demand!

In the post, I outlined a few exercises to help strengthen the muscles that help make Venus dimples pop - but today I’d like to follow up with a lower back workout that you can do at home!

Check out the video via my Davey Wavey Fitness channel on YouTube.

Lat Pulldown Grip: Wide Vs. Close.

Lat muscles for days...

Dear Davey,

Does it matter how far apart or close my hands are when doing a lat pulldown? Is one more effective than the other?


Dear Jacob,

The lat pulldown is a great exercise for your back. Primarily, it works the lat muscles (hence the name) - but you’ll also feel this exercise in your biceps and traps. There are four basic variables involved in a lat pulldown: The distance between your hands on the bar (wide or close grip) and the type of grip you employ (overhand or underhand).

When it comes to close vs. wide grips and underhand vs. overhand, researchers at Penn State put lat pulldowns to the test:

Twelve healthy men performed the 4 grip variations using an experimentally determined load of 70% of 1 repetition maximum. Two trials of 5 repetitions were analyzed for each grip type.

The researchers measured the effectiveness of each grip variation and found that a overhand

The lat pulldown machine.

(pronated) grip is the most effective:

We conclude that… a pronated grip is recommended for safely and optimally training the LD [latissimus dorsi muscle], irrespective of the grip width.

An pronated or overhand grip is when your palms face away and your fingers turn downward over the bar. Interestingly, as the research notes, there is no difference in effectiveness between a wide or close grip - so hold the bar at a width that feels comfortable.

Bottom line: Use an overhand grip at any width when performing a lat pulldown.

I hope that helps!


Shrug Your Way to a Stronger Back.

Dear Davey,

Do you know of any good trapezius exercises? I’m having trouble finding any.


Dear Jeff,

The trapezius is a large superficial muscle that runs along your upper back, shoulder blades and neck. It performs a number of important functions in the body - but it is often overlooked in workouts.

Recently, I’ve incorporated a very simple but powerful trapezius exercise called “shrugs” into my workout. You can perform shrugs at home or at the gym - it just requires a set of dumbbells, a resistance band, barbell or two equally weighted items (you could use two large water jugs, for example).

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Stand upright and hold the dumbbells at your side. Palms should be facing each other. Be careful not to move your head or bend your arms during the exercise.
  2. Keep your shoulders relaxed - and shrug them upwards as though you were trying to touch your shoulders to your ears.
  3. Hold here, then gradually lower to the starting position.
  4. Repeat as necessary.

If you’re looking to build your trapezius, you’d opt for heavier weights and lower reps. If you’re looking to maintain - or to increase strength and endurance - lighter weights with a higher number of reps is appropriate.

I hope that helps!