January 14, 2022
IFBB Pro Valerie Ratelle recently met up with Dorian Hamilton, prep coach, to learn as much as she can about how to work her back, an area she has been focusing on improving for her next show. Valerie recently took to her Youtube channel to share the back workout she did with Dorian. There are some great pro-tips shared by Hamilton that you don't want to miss.
Valerie is from Quebec, Canada, and began competing in bodybuilding in 2015. She took 1st place at the Toronto Pro Qualifier in 2019 then again won the Canadian Pro Qualifier in 2019. Valerie placed 11th last year in the 2021 IFBB Toronto Pro Supershow and is eager to compete with an improved physique this year.
Dorian is the head trainer at TeamHD in Ontario, Canada. He is a prep coach making waves in bodybuilding after spending over 10 years learning from the masters in the game, such as Chris Aceto, George Farah, Layne Norton, and Milos Sarcev. He's trained some notable names in the sport, including Antoine Vaillant, Regan Grimes, and Quinton Eriya.
The video starts with Valerie mixing her intra-workout shake, one scoop of CarbHD, two scoops of EAAHD, and a very small scoop of salt. All the supplements she is seen using in this video are from HDMUSCLE. She explains that she has been focusing on building up her back and plans on working with Dorian to learn as much as she can.
After a quick camera transition, the video goes straight into the workout, with Dorian explaining the first exercise. This entire video is instructional, so every exercise is broken down into pieces, and very few actual working sets are shown.
The workout video goes straight into Dorian, explaining the importance of hand placement while doing an avenger row. Dorian seems to be going light to start, with just a 45 on each side to focus more on form and the eccentric/concentric parts of the lift. Valerie takes her first set on the machine and can be seen adjusting her body and hands based on Dorian's instructions.
Dorian explains not to overthink the exercise because you tend to break the exercise into separate parts instead of focusing on it being one fluid motion, which is the way it is supposed to be executed. According to Dorian, by treating this exercise as an isolated hold, you are forcing the muscle to contract harder without adding extra weight.
Up next is a single-arm bent-over row with a dumbbell. Dorian can be seen explaining to Valerie how to grip a dumbbell to ensure that the weight was in line with her wrist. Next, he can be seen explaining that your weight should be on your lead foot when executing the lift (the lead foot is on the same side as the side you are working on). Workout reps were in the 12-15 range with a slightly lighter weight to work on form.
A bent-over barbell row is more complex than the last couple of movements, so Dorian takes some extra time to go over some good tips while completing a barbell row. You can see in the video that his hands are just outside of shoulder-width apart.
Some of the other tips he describes are:
Dorian says that he tends to struggle with this exercise a lot and then proceeds to complete a set with 6-8 reps, with a squeeze for a couple of seconds at the top of each rep. Valerie gives it a go while Dorian gives her a tempo count for the first couple of reps.
The machine seems to be a mixture of lat pulldown and a high row. Dorian can be seen starting with his right arm fully extended out to put tension on the lat; then, he cracks the elbow, which starts the movement backwards into a high row.
Weight-wise there is a 45 lb plate on each side, and each rep is done slowly with a focus on the stretch and squeeze of each rep. Reps appear to be high again in the 10-12 range. Dorian tells Valerie that there was another machine very similar that he wanted to show her because he wanted to see how it worked with her body. But, of course, everybody is different, so not all machines or exercises have the same effect.
This second machine seems to have a shorter range of motion than the first one for this exercise. This is the first exercise so far that Dorian appears to be completing a working set; you can hear him straining and putting effort into it. He also steps up the weight by adding a 25 lb plate on each side of the 45 lb plate.
For the last exercise, Dorian briefly explains that they will be letting the elbows stay out to work more of the upper back for this exercise. Valerie then asks Dorian how to work on her back's width and thickness. He explains that the back is very complex and full of muscles, so you have to do different exercises to create a properly formed back. You don't always need more lats to create a better back; sometimes, you need to work your rhomboids and other muscles that tend to not get as much attention. Dorian shows Valerie two different hand positions for this exercise that would work for her; rotate her palms in as she brings the handles down or keeps the palms forward throughout the rep.
Valerie believes that one of her mistakes while previously trying to build her back was doing the wrong exercises. She needs to focus on 3-4 exercises to get the best muscle contractions during her back workouts.
Dorian reveals that she will be doing a pro show in 2022 in Toronto or Vancouver. During her off-season, she will be working to improve her back, legs, and thickness in her shoulders by removing variables in her programming.
Here is an excellent workout variation inspired by the video that you can try out at the gym the next time you go.
Warm-up: Seated Single Arm Row: 3 sets x 10 reps
Rest breaks should be 45-90 seconds between sets.
It's nice to a see two rising talents working together in the gym. We're excited to see what the future holds for both Ratelle and Hamilton.
If you give this workout a try, let us know what you think about it in the comments below.
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