Chris Bumstead Shares Unforgiving 2023 Off-Season Back Routine

chris bumstead's back workout routine
Image via Instagram @cbum

CBum ramps up the intensity of his pull routine with his 2023 off-season underway! 

Chris Bumstead is the reigning 2022 Classic Physique division champion, and he doesn’t intend to stop there! Chris Bumstead recently revealed his back workout routine, demonstrating that this determined champion continuously strives for growth. With such an inspiring winner’s mindset, it’s no wonder he made history by continuing to hold onto the title since 2019!

Despite what it looks like, CBum hasn’t had an easy road to victory. He won his last title despite dealing with back, knee, and quad injuries during preparation. He also had to part ways with longtime friend and coach Iain Valliere and even entered a competition with a torn bicep!

Thankfully, Bumstead’s bicep is fully healed, and Generation Iron got an exclusive peek at his biceps and triceps home workout. We’ve also seen him share his off-season diet, and through it all, you can see why having a winning mindset and pushing yourself is essential to be a four-time Olympia champ. 

Full Name: Chris Bumstead
Weight Height Date of Birth
230-260 lbs 6’1” 2/2/1995
Division Era Nationality
Classique Physique 2010, 2020 Canadian

Chris Bumstead’s Off-Season Back Routine 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Chris Bumstead (@cbum)

Check out the bodybuilding tips and tricks from his training session and see what a typical Chris Bumstead back workout looks like below. 

Wide Neutral Grip Lat Pulldowns
Incline Dumbbell Rows
Single Arm Chest Supported Rows
Seated Rows
Reverse Grip Lat Pulldowns
Banded Straight Arm Pulldowns

Wide Neutral Grip Lat Pulldown

Wide neutral grip pulldowns build your lats, traps, major and minor rhomboids, posterior delts, and biceps. However, it mainly focuses on the lats, the massive visible muscle on your outer back. Widespread lats are essential for many bodybuilding poses and looking broad. 

To fully engage your lats when performing this movement, lean back slightly and then focus on getting your elbows to your sides. Neutral grip pulldowns are a great way to train for hypertrophy build muscle mass by increasing the size of your muscle cells (1). In addition, the neutral grip while doing a pulldown is not too taxing for your wrists. 

Chris Bumstead first did about four or five warm-up sets of this to stretch his lats. Then, he did some working sets before completing the entire routine with a drop set. For this routine, CBum used a shovel handle to position his hands in a neutral grip. 

Incline Dumbbell Rows

Nothing will add serious muscles to your back like rows, so it’s no surprise that this exercise routine was next for Chris Bumstead. Incline dumbbell rows also target your lower lats which is excellent if you want to reach your full bodybuilding potential by engaging every portion of your lats. 

Incline dumbbell rows work your middle lats, forearms, and biceps. As a result, they can improve your posture and even increase your grip strength. The incline dumbbell row is easier, as it doesn’t require core stabilization that a single-arm dumbbell row on a flat bench will. 

He does the routine to failure, inhaling before lifting and then exhaling slowly while lowering, which forces him to learn how to breathe correctly while lifting. 

“It’s one of the things where it’s hard to breathe with your chest on the pad but forcing you to practice proper breathing techniques… Remember to breathe; it makes you stronger.”

Single Arm Chest Supported Rows

After performing bilateral movements, Chris Bumstead turned to the unilateral exercise of single-arm chest-supported rows to further train his lats, rhomboids, and traps. Rows are the best for higher back muscle activation (2). Plus, you can focus entirely on your form when doing single-arm chest-supported rows since the machine controls each rep’s weight. 

Bumstead explains that doing it this way gives a better stretch and contraction than a dumbbell row from the floor. He shares a technique for ensuring that your back muscles are worked to the maximum and states: 

“The same arm that we are doing, keep that foot planted forward. A lot of people would put that foot back and the arm forward. This way, you open up your hips and then rotate your body. Your core is moving away. But if you keep your foot forward, your hips are forced to stay forward, and you have to pull from your lats rather than your core. So keep it on your back.”

Seated Rows


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Chris Bumstead (@cbum)

Seated rows target your latissimus dorsi and upper back, such as your rhomboids, traps, and biceps. For the best results with this routine, keep your spine straight and your torso as stable as possible. Or you’ll shift the focus away from your lats to your biceps. Remember to brace your core and do each of your sets slowly.

Bumstead explained that this machine has three horn plate horns at different levels and that he can better lockout on contractions by adding weight on the lower and middle levels. However, putting weight on the highest horn makes this harder as the load is somewhat heavier.

Reverse Grip Lat Pulldowns

The reverse grip lat pulldown was made popular in the 1990s by six-time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. This lat pulldown variation is excellent for your lats, posterior delts, teres major, biceps, and rhomboids. The reverse grip is ideal for all lifters, whether beginner or advanced. But the reverse grip (palms facing you) will emphasize your bicep muscles more and reduce any shoulder strength that a supinated lat pulldown may spur. 

When doing this exercise, it’s best to keep your spine neutral and your chest upright and go through the full range of motion. You should also avoid letting the weight control you by lifting you out of the seated padding since it will mean you’re using momentum instead of your muscles. Pay close attention and focus your mind on your lats to practice mind-muscle connection. Chris Bumstead did a couple of reps before heading to the final movement of his back routine. 

Banded Straight Arm Pulldowns

Banded straight arm pulldowns help you work on mind-muscle coordination while focusing on your lats and the teres minor. Bodybuilders can use this routine to build a broad, well-defined back and blend the size into something aesthetically pleasing. Keeping your arms straight to pull down the load also work on your triceps.

This isolation exercise is done using a machine with a pulley system. To perform it optimally, you should avoid using a weight that’s too heavy; Too much weight and you may use other muscles apart from your lats. Also, it’s easy to let the biceps take over with this exercise, so ensure you focus your attention on your lats. 

CBum picked a weight that was not too heavy and pushed close to failure. He also decreased each set’s weights, aka reverse pyramid training. His bent-over version of this routine fully activated his lower lats.

You can check out Chris Bumstead’s full back workout courtesy of his YouTube channel below:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more IFBB Pro workouts! 


  1. Schoenfeld B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 24(10), 2857–2872.
  2. Fenwick, C. M., Brown, S. H., & McGill, S. M. (2009). Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load, and stiffness. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 23(5), 1408–1417.
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.