Ken Waller – Build a better back

The following article was written by bodybuilding photograph Cliff Swan in 1971.

“You probably have heard that Ken Waller moved to Southern California nearly a year ago so he could concentrate his training at Joe Gold’s Gym toward winning the 1971 Mr. America title. While working as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, he has spent every spare moment training at Gold’s.

It has not been all work and training for Ken, for he is now about to join that group of recently wed bodybuilders (Boyer Coe was married last Fall and John Corvalho tied the knot just over a year ago) for, on Valentine’s Day, this year, Ken became engaged to the beautiful Dianne. Here’s wishing them every happiness. Since Waller is noted for his terrific back development, I asked him to shed a little light on his training routine for building a MIGHTY BACK.

Ken believes that a muscular and well-defined back is a must if one is to win top physique contests. He says there are many exercises that will develop the back, however in this article we shall concentrate on the exercises he has employed during the past year while training for competition in the Mr. America Contest.

A thorough warmup is a must before concentrated heavy workouts for two reasons, he says. The first is to put one in the right mental state for the workout session. Concentration is extremely important in your exercise program. To achieve the full benefits of the exercise, one must direct all his energy on the muscle group being trained. The other reason for the warm up is to prevent injury to the muscles.

Ken commences his warm up with five sets of wide grip chins – twelve repetitions. He then does five sets of one-arm rows with 120 pound dumbbells; ten reps. Thus, he has done an exercise for the upper lat and one for the lower lat. Waller feels it is paramount to mix the exercises in order to train both the upper and lower lat muscles.

He then does five sets of wide pull downs on the lat machine; twelve repetitions. Followed by one-arm cable pulls from the floor. In this exercise us much weight as possible with ten reps. This results in twenty sets of lat work, and the routine is followed three days per week.

Other muscle groups must also be worked to have impressive back development. These muscles are the deltoids, trapezius and spinal erector muscles. Erector muscles can be trained effectively by doing hyper extensions, together with stiff-legged dead lifts.

Ken always woks his deltoids and traps simultaneously with his lat work since these muscle groups are so impressive in a back pose. Occasionally he also does super-set behind the neck presses with lat pull downs. This push-pull combination gives Ken a fantastic pump in his shoulders and upper lats.”

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