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Junior's experiences in soccer gave opportunity and form to another lifelong passion: advanced fitness and fitness modeling. He believes the body, with its astounding capabilities for health, performance, and beauty, should be maximized in appreciation for the Creator who designed it. He occasionally weaves this into his ministry and professional counseling, where he encounters many Christians who have become imbalanced and unhealthy in their daily habits.

Junior has been a personal trainer since his teens, helping scores of people cherish their bodies as gifts. His specialty is coaching competitive athletes, developing soccer players, advanced exercisists, and aspiring fitness models. Via his own successful soccer and bodysculpting journey, he has learned well the dietary, training, and lifestyle calibrations needed to be truly elite.

Junior engages fitness media by modeling for websites, modeling for fitness pictures and posters that decorate gyms, and conducting fitness interviews or tutorials in person or on television. See photo gallery below for a sample. To book Junior for your fitness media, please use the Contact page. Also, in response to increasing questions about Junior's training regimen, diet, etc., he will post a periodic fitness tip below based on those questions. Please be aware these tend to be geared towards advanced exercisists and competitive athletes, and may not always be relevant or safe for beginners.

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Fitness Tips, Your Questions

"I have been frustrated trying to grow my lats and back muscles, what do I need to do to get better results? Can you share what you do for your back?"

Greetings athletes and exercisists! Thank you for the specific question about lats. Growing your back muscles, like any muscle in the body, means four things: (1) stress the muscle enough, (2) rest the muscle enough, (3) eat strategically, and (4) time. Together, these four maximally trigger the body's intrinsic growth mechanisms.


(1) Stress the Back Muscles Enough


There is an assortment of ways to develop any given muscle. All of them work to a greater or lesser degree depending on your genetics, fitness level, overall fitness program, eating habits, whether you are trending upward or starting to plateau, and so on. Today's perfect workout is tomorrow's plateau, so realize you need a diverse arsenal of muscle-building philosophies to continually mix, match, innovate, and challenge your muscles with to trigger new growth. Here are a few modules I use that work really, really well.

Strategizing Width

The back muscles can be developed for both width and thickness. For width, the two greatest exercises are, without a doubt, standing lat pulldowns and widegrip pullups.


Standing Lat Pulldowns

Standing lat pulldowns stress the muscles precisely associated with frame width, the upper lats near your armpit and rear delts (shoulders). You can variate the standing lat pulldown by bending over to a roughly 45-degree angle. This puts additional stress on the middle tier of the lats, the base of your "wings" behind the ribcage.
I start with light weight, sets of 12-20 reps, slowly building to heavy weight, sets of 6-8 reps, then finishing with moderate weight, sets of 12ish reps. I stop at around ten sets, then move to the next cornerstone of my back workout: pullups.



Pullups are the gift that keeps on giving. You can change your hand position to stress different muscles, but to focus on the width of your wings use a (a) wide grip, palms facing forward or a (b) shoulderwidth grip, palms facing back at you. I do around six to eight sets of 6-plus reps, with one or two minutes rest in between. Do the pullup through the full range of motion. Use the assisted pullup machine if you need.


Other Width Exercises

After pullups I "burn out" or finish off my lats with some kind of machine exercise. I go for higher reps, 12-20, and simply try to burn out whatever my lats have left. Of course by this point they are largely exhausted, so I prefer the safety and controllability of a machine exercise, lighter weight, and higher reps.


Constant Modifications to Avoid Plateau

The aforementioned is a flexible outline I use for width work. However, constant micro-modifications are an emphatic must to avoid plateauing.
    Keep increasing the weight by a small amount every three workouts.
    Keep varying the rest periods between sets. Sometimes I rest thirty seconds, sometimes two minutes, sometimes I progressively increase or decrease rest periods, sometimes I creatively mix and match rest periods.
    Use rest-pause. This means, instead of doing a full rest period after a set, rest or "pause" for five to ten seconds, then grind out a few more reps, rest or "pause" again for five to ten seconds, then grind out a few more reps, then do a full rest period.
    Use drop-sets. Instead of doing a full rest period after a set, drop the weight to a doable amount and keep going. Do it again if you want. And again. And again. Sometimes I will do as many five drops before I do a full rest period. Sometimes I will do only one or two drops before resting.
    Use up-sets. Up-sets are like drop-sets, but going the other way. Instead of doing a full rest period after a set, increase or "up" the weight a bit more and keep going. A crucial word of caution: on your first set only do a moderate weight and only moderately tire your muscles. Do not take your muscles to their threshold on the first set of an up-set; that will almost certainly lead to injury. On the first set do a moderate weight only and only moderately tire your muscles. After 8-12 reps, up the weight and then take your muscles near their threshold. I recommend against doing more than one up-set, unless your first set is light, your second set is moderate, and your third set is to threshold.
    Constantly mix and match and innovate these micro-modifications and your body will perpetually stay in adaptation mode, i.e., fitness improvement/hypertrophy.


Strategizing Thickness

For back thickness, the greatest exercise is row, row, row. There are numerous variations of the row, so experiment to find which ones give your particular frame the best results, and, how much you want your legs involved. I, personally, tend to do single arm bent-over row for light and moderate sets, and a seated row machine for heavier sets. I do this to not overstress my legs because I do more than enough legs on leg day.


Single Arm Bent-Over Row & Seated Row Machine

I warm up with several light sets on some back exercise machine. Then I move to single arm bent-over row, bench slightly raised, five or six sets, light to moderate weight, 6-12 reps. Then I move to a seated row machine, where I do my heaviest sets; seven-ish sets, heavy weight, 6-8 reps.


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Other Exercises, Deadlifts

Many advanced exercisists and fitness professionals swear that deadlifts are the best thickness-builder for back. They are not wrong. Regardless of whether rows or deadlifts are the true #1 mass-builder, the two exercises are essentially 1a and 1b; both are simply that good. The variable you will have to consider is how much you want to involve your legs on back day. As a soccer player, I adore running and doing an expansive variety of leg modules, like sandsprints, stairs, walking lunges, tire flips, jumprope, weighted sprints, the list goes on and on! Therefore, on upper body days, I am conscientious of legs recovery and not retraumatizing them. So I tend to stay away from deadlifts, which involve the legs significantly. This is the kind of calculus you have to figure out when strategizing a regime that works for you, your genetics, your interests, your schedule, etc.


Constant Modifications to Avoid Plateau

The aforementioned is a flexible outline. Without constant micro-modifications, though, you will plateau.
    Keep increasing the weight by a small amount every three workouts or so. Keep varying the rest periods between sets. Use rest-pause. Use drop-sets. Use up-sets. Constantly innovate these micro-modifications and your body will perpetually stay in adaptation mode, i.e., fitness improvement/hypertrophy.


(2) Rest the Back Muscles Enough

After traumatizing your back muscles with a great workout, they need around three full days to recover. If you did not take the muscles to threshold, and your fitness level is high, they can recover with two full days off. If you took the muscles to threshold, they will need a full three days to recover, possibly four, depending on your fitness level and other fitness activities. It is during the recovery period that the muscles are actually growing. They are not growing during the workout, they are breaking down at microscopic levels and merely initiating the hypertrophic cycle.
    Learn to have an intuitive relationship with your muscles. Sometimes they will signal they are ready to go again earlier than expected, sometimes they will signal they need more time. Do not exercise emotionally. Do not exercise as an escape. These almost always lead to overtraining and injury, and other physical and mental problems.


(3) Eat Strategically


In the last fitness article I went into great detail regarding eating, especially eating strategically for advanced exercisists or fitness pros. The article can be found at the Fitness Articles Archive below, the 2023 button.

(4) Time

Depending on your starting baseline, it will take time to build the lats you envision. If you are disciplined and diligent with your program, and you keep micro-modifying to avoid plateaus, and you eat strategically faithfully, you will see inspiring results within six months and more and more every few months after that.
    Do not take the loser's route of steroids. Not only will it damage your body, God's gift to you, but it
 is glaringly unsustainable. Will you really be doing steroids into middle age and beyond to sustain the results? Have you noticed the steady stream of bodybuilders and fitness pros dying in recent years? While the families are not always publicly forthcoming about the true cause of death, behind the scenes it is an open secret.
    The high purpose of advanced fitness is to celebrate and appreciate God's gift to you, to maximize sustainable physical and mental health, to maximize functionality and life activities, to maximize a sense of dignity and healthy love for yourself, to give the gift of your very best body to another, to inspire others toward higher purposes in their fitness journey.


Fitness Articles Archive

Copyright (c) 2024, Junior deSouza. All rights reserved.

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