From Prince To King Of Back Training

I was a young lad of 19 when I started training with a man with an awesome physique that took me under his wing, literally.

My third training training partner up to that point in my training life who probably made the biggest influence to my young mind and training that still stand me today.

His name was Ian Prince a 27-year-old policeman that must have seen something in me to allow me to train with him.

Ian took no prisoners –if you pardon the pun and trained incredibly hard with a style that was pure quality and instilled in me hard work, mind connection and free but perfect style of exercise.

Now Ian also impressed me with the way he presented himself.

As you can see from the photos here he was and still is a good size.

I never saw Ian move other than like a cat, strong supple athletic. Yes even at his size there was no edge to him at all, something I have never forgotten.

You would think also by the photos his best body part would have been legs, they where huge-but yet he walked normal, not like Godzilla like so many do with half the size legs Ian had.

Ian’s whole physique was awesome but his back was otherworldly –I asked Ian for an article on training back …enjoy.


Ian Prince

Ian Prince


Hi Ian thanks for inviting me to comment on back training.

I have always thought that this area is one of the hardest to get to grips with, not only are you unable to view your progress very well- but in order to effectively train and isolate your back muscles and progress you need to have a fair bit of strength in your hands and forearms and be able to get your mind into those complex set of muscles to get sufficient stimulus without using your arms and shoulders.


I remember being in Scarborough during the summer. I had been training for a couple of years and looked quite good it was 1981. I was wearing a vest and shorts and attracted quite a lot of looks, as bodybuilders weren’t very common I was looking in a shop window when I felt a hand on my shoulder.

I turned around and two middle-aged women were next to me.

One of the women said, ” You look good but you’re back needs sorting out ”

I was startled but before I had chance to say anything they walked off.

Well, I was training at home in my garage at the time as there were no good gyms in the Hull area I had some homemade equipment and plenty of weight but nothing for a great back workout.

I decided chins were the answer so I open ended the garage doors slightly, wedged them and placed a steel bar across the top and started chinning.

I did sets of 12 reps working up to a total of 10 to 12 sets varying hand spacing and using a false overhand grip.

I continue to chin to this very day I have a chinning bar in my home gym and do sets of 12 to 20 and use 4 different hand spacing’s. Close, wide, underarm and a fist grip where my hands are on a bar which is at 90 degrees to the chinning bar which is obviously the stronger more natural position.


As I have said to be able to work your back properly you need good core strength, be strong in the hand, wrist and forearm so these don t tire out first before your back.

So in back training your hands are just hooks and your arms rods which attach to the back and it is important to see them like that, nothing else.


In chinning I always use a false grip that is all fingers and thumbs over the bar, which takes emphasis from the flexor and extensor in the forearm.

I use thin strap on padding which cushions the palm of my hand on the bar for the simple reason that the callouses I do have on my hands don t become too painful and take my mind off the exercise.


Ian was balanced and fluid x

Ian was balanced and fluid x


I grip the bar with the overhand and allow my body to drop bending the bottom of my legs up backward I then relax and slowly forgetting about my hands and arms concentrate on using the bottom of my lats to start the upward pull as I get higher towards the bar I bring the rest of my lats into play and at the top of the range tilt my head back to allow the top of my chest to come near the bar at this point I am at full contraction, the rest of my body is still, hence the need for good core strength, I then lower myself slowly and completely stretch out at the bottom.

It is probably quite hard for any beginner to be able to isolate the lats in this fashion that’s why back training is so hard.

I currently do 8 to 12 sets of 12 to 20 reps in this fashion and use the varying hand spacing’s to hit the lats in differing areas


When I have taught beginners the art of chinning I always get them to start with the under arm grip with hands supinated as it is a much stronger pulling position for them as biceps give assistance and it is only by sheer practice and hard work that good chinning can be achieved It just is not easy and many give up and resort to lat pull downs and other similar exercises


Once the beginner has gained chinning strength and control of their core therefore being able to keep steady through the movement and has built up to 10 or more good reps in this fashion do I progress them onto the overhand grips.


I never chin to behind the neck as I feel this is un-natural movement for the body and does not allow for a good stretch and contraction I also find it very uncomfortable.


Once a person has mastered the art of back isolation and built up the required strength in hands arms and core then they will find chinning very rewarding and let’s face it you don t need a fancy bit of gym equipment to do it either.


I find chinning quite a spiritual experience believe it or not that keeps me in touch with the muscles in my body.


I also do other back exercises such as bent over rows deadlifts and pull downs but chins are the epitome of back training for me.

Cheers Ian




Thank you Ian for this article –see you soon my friend Ian

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