Body Beast: Bulk Back

Sagi Kalev
Year Released: 2012

Categories: Upper Body Strength

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Part of the Body Beast set, the Bulk workouts are the second phase of the program after Build. Each Bulk workout focuses on one muscle group. Sagi adds in new types of strength sets - "progressive sets" and "force sets" - to maximize muscle growth and provide a change of pace from the Build workouts.

The format and set are the familiar ones: stripped-down gym setting, Sagi and two very muscular male backgrounders, unobtrusive music as background filler. There is a countdown clock that shows total workout time as well as the time left in whatever you're doing at the moment: warmup, lifting or resting between sets. There is a readout with the name of the upcoming exercise and the rep count, and a countdown clock on the reps while you're lifting. This workout is 29 minutes long, with 3.5 minutes total of warmup and stretch and 25.5 minutes of weights work. You get a LOT done in those 29 minutes.

You will needs dumbbells, a barbell, a bench or aerobic step, and a pull-up bar (or band substitute) for this workout. One backgrounder is the designated equipment modifier who does the workout using only dumbbells, stability ball in place of the bench/step, and bands with door attachment in place of the pull-up bar.

The workout starts with a brief warmup: jogging in place/high knees, arm circles, short sets of rows, rear flyes and deadlifts with very light dumbbells, and high knees to end.

The exercises in order are:

SUPER SET of pullovers and pullups. The pullovers are done as a drop set, with 15 reps at your light weight, 12 reps at heavier weight, 8 reps at your heaviest and another set of 8 at a lighter-than-heaviest weight. There is no rest between the two sets of 8. The pull-ups are done as three sets of 10 reps. In the super set you alternate exercises: do your 15-rep set of pullovers, then 10 pull-ups; 12 pullovers, then 10 pull-ups; and two sets of 8 pullovers, followed by your last set of pull-ups.

PROGRESSIVE SET of reverse grip (underhand) row with barbell. The rep count in a progressive set is 15 reps light, 12 reps heavy, 8 reps heaviest with no rest between sets; pause; then 8 reps heaviest, 12 reps heavy, 15 reps light with no rest. Sagi does these reps fast: the rep count is hasty and you have just enough time to add/take off barbell plates before you're doing the next set.

FORCE SET of one-arm dumbbell rows. A force set is 5 sets of 5 reps each, same weight, very short (10 seconds, plus or minus) between sets, hold the weight during the rest. I started this set holding my normal "medium-heavy" dumbbell and had to decrease my weight after the third set. Tough, tough set.

DROP SET of deadlifts with dumbbells. Sagi does a deadlift variation in which you bend your legs deeply and your torso over at least 45 degrees; then straighten both legs and torso to full upright as one rep. He encourages your to squeeze your upper back as you come to upright to work it as well as your lower back. The trick is to keep your torso straight, back straight and arms retracted while coming to upright. You could substitute another deadlift variation (stiff-leg, bent-leg, wide leg, narrow stance) if you don't like all the up-and-down'ing of Sagi's variation.

SUPER SET of reverse flyes and plank rotations. You do a set of 15 flyes, then 30 seconds of plank rotation (get into plank, grab a dumbbell and row it to back height, then twist your torso while extending the dumbbell to the ceiling; come back to plank, drop the dumbbell, and do on the other side). End with a set of 12 flyes and another 30 seconds of plank rotation.

SHORT stretch.

This workout is paced more quickly than Build back with a faster rep count and shorter rests between sets. I was well worked out and sweaty at the end.

The backgrounders are NOT annoying in this workout, thank goodness. Eric/"Smiley" and Brian/"Pretty Boy" provide the scenery. Sagi enjoys teasing Brian, especially when he takes off his shirt.

Instructor Comments:
Sagi is his typical self in this workout: does his typical encouragement/chatter "the is the BEAST talking!" "the BEAST is WITH YOU!" "ALL the WAY!" As usual, he demonstrates each exercise with excellent form. He does one full set occasionally, but spends much of the time encouraging his backgrounders and correcting their form.