Justin Hayward


Justin Hayward Double biceps



Justin Hayward is a 23-year-old Boston native who started training for competitive bodybuilding when he was 16. He takes bodybuilding very seriously and has the muscle gains and physique contest results to prove it. In 2008 he took 3rd Place, Teen Division, in the Bev Francis Atlantic States Bodybuilding Championships. He also took 2nd Place, Teen Division, in the 2008 NPC Long Island Bodybuilding Championships. Justin is 6’2”, and considers 210 a good competition weight – for now! Off-season he can carry upwards of 250 lbs. Justin’s immediate goals are improving his own physique and helping other competitors with their bodybuilding careers.

Justin graduated from Hofstra University on Long Island in the spring of 2010 with a degree in business and communications. He has worked at ShreddedRx, the sports supplement retailer, and Big Back Grips dealer, in East Meadow, Long Island. He also worked three years as a rep for Anabolic Xtreme. He now manages a chiropractic office and provides personal training. He was one of the founders of Shredded-RX. You can find his personal training services through www.newstarathletics.com.

Interview Questions

Justin is also a fan of Big Back Lifting Grips. “An unstable or uncomfortable grip on the bar can really kill that mind/muscle connection,” he says. “I found Big Back Grips on Facebook and liked them as soon as I tried them.” He tells us Big Backs grab the bar better than anything else he’s tried so he’s not constantly adjusting his grip throughout his set. Why doesn’t he use one of the fancier solutions like lifting straps or weightlifting gloves?

“Weight lifting gloves don’t grip weights. They slide right off. And lifting straps strangle and pull at the wrist joints. You see a lot of bruised wrists among strap users. Not good. And bare hands sweat and calluses from lifting tear. Big Back Grips are a pretty simple way to go, but they work better than anything I’ve tried and let me focus on the muscle I’m training. That’s all I really need.” We also asked Justin if he has an approach to working back he’d like to share. This is what he sent us.

My Back Workout by Justin Hayward

There are so many issues that people have in developing the perfect looking back. Their waists could be too big which takes away from their taper; or they don’t have the valleys and mountains that great detailed muscular backs possess; or they just don’t have enough mass!

What makes training back different?

The challenge you face is the number of different muscles that create the width and thickness of a really muscular back. Plus all the secondary muscles that activating the back’s complex machinery requires. The basic movements of upper back training involve pulling the upper arms, from any angle, in toward your torso, and pulling the shoulders back (the “squeeze.”) Yet just counting the superficial back muscles – just the ones that show – you’re working the trapezius, the rhomboid major and minor, the infraspinatus, the teres major and minor and the latissimus dorsi. You’re also involving the rear deltoids and biceps and the muscles of the forearms, palms and fingers as your hands wrap around whatever you’re grasping to pull that weight toward you. And your back includes your lower back, a fact many lifters seem to forget.

With all these muscles to think about when doing your back workout, form, focus and maintaining that “mind to muscle connection” throughout the entire set is key. The “distraction point” for many people is their grip. There is nothing more counterproductive to working back than slippery palms, torn calluses and constant grip readjustments when all you’re trying to do is work your back. If “grip fatigue” sets in before genuine lat, trap and rhomboid fatigue, you will simply not have the great back workout you need for real muscle growth. So a solid, comfortable grip on the barbell or lat handle is essential. One thing I recommend doing is taking a “thumbs over-the bar” grip (thumb on the same side of the bar as your fingers, not wrapped around like an “O”) on many exercises to take pressure off the biceps and forearm muscles. Image captions:

A killer back workout needs a stable grip.

The quality of your set depends on your grip. An unstable or uncomfortable grip will distract you and impair your focus. The back workout. After getting your grip squared away, you can think about what kinds of lat exercises you would like to include in you back workout. Below are a few exercises that I recommend for basic yet thorough back training. But make sure you see my comments at the end about including variety of different back exercises. Barbell Rows: After the warm-up, we will hit 4 sets of barbell rows, heavy to failure. You should bend reasonably close to a 90 degree angle and raise the barbell to your stomach. This will work a full range of back muscles better than if you bend only slightly, which I see a lot of bodybuilders doing. This slight bend focuses too much of the weight up onto your traps instead of your lats and lower and middle back where you want it. If your lower back feels unstable, try using a belt.

Wide grip Lat Pulldowns: This is easy to remember: wide grip back exercises build a wide back. So next, move onto a width exercise. This will help with that nice V-taper in back. Hit wide grip lat pulldowns for 4 sets, concentrating on each contraction. It’s often debated what the proper form is for cable pulldowns, but personally I lean back about 30-45 degrees. I feel you can lift more weight more comfortably in this position and I also feel it hits the whole lat more effectively. I almost always stick with 8-12 reps for 3-4 sets on this pulldowns. (NOTE: You do not want your torso to swing if you’re leaning back. You want pure, controlled movement of the arms in both directions – no jerking the weight. Your partner can place his thumbs over your traps to keep your torso from moving if necessary.) If you’d like to add this at the end of your workout instead, doing drop sets (work to failure, drop the weight and do another set immediately) for 3-4 sets will really get your back muscles pumped up.

For wide grip lat pull downs, select a weight that you can get for 12 reps. Do those reps, then drop the weight by 1/3 (i.e. from 200 to 140) and pump out as many pulldowns as you can get. (I have to say, here is where using Big Back Grips while doing these drop sets will allow you to effectively fatigue your lats, without the common forearm and bicep pump this exercise is known for.)

Justin Hayward on stage

Close Grip Low Seated Cable Rows

It’s ok to lean forward at the end of the rep, then pull up to a flat back as you reach peak contraction. A well-executed close grip cable pull can really build thickness. If a wide grip gives you width, a narrow grip gives you thickness. I find low rows great for detail in the mid back area as well as for back thickness. For seated cable rows I keep the reps on the higher side with this, not usually going below 10-12. Do 3-4 sets of seated rows at 10-12 reps. Don’t lean back too much (or at all) while rowing. Instead, keep your body straight while pulling to your stomach. As you pull in towards your torso, make sure to concentrate on the muscle contraction, and squeeze your back muscles. It’s ok to lean a little forward at the end of the rep; it helps you hit the lower lats nicely as well. You can also do close-grip pulldowns on the lat pulldown machine. Both are good for back thickness. But you still want to keep That pure, controlled arm-movement with no torso swinging.

Dumbbell Rows

These are great for overall back work, as well as giving you the opportunity to work your back bilaterally. Choose a weight you can do for no more than 12 reps and rip out 8-12 reps on each side. While doing these rows, keep the same position as you did for barbell rows. Make sure you’re keeping a full range of motion and getting a good stretch in your lats at the bottom.


The deadlift is the king of back lifts, and too many people ignore this essential back exercise. Those lifting for muscle quality often do deadlifts at the end of back day, as opposed to those looking to improve their deadlift strength. The reason for putting it at the end is that after you already focused on each area of your back, the deadlift will totally exhaust your entire back at the end of the workout. Keep the reps between 8-12 and lift as heavy as you can for this rep range. Do this for 3 sets, or 4 if you still have the energy. I prefer an overhand grip – you may not be able to lift as much, but it’s better for symmetry and less chance of injuring your traps and shoulders. If you want, you can try an opposing-hand grip using the Big Back Grips, and you’ll find you can focus on your back completely. Your secondary muscles should be fatigued by this point in your workout, so keeping a solid grip will be the key to the effectiveness of this exercise!

Warm up or else

Along with legs, back is probably one of the most injury prone workout days, putting stress on your lats, lower back (big problem area!), traps, biceps, rear delts, etc. So, as with every body part, it’s necessary to thoroughly warm up the back before hitting the weights hard. Always make sure you start with a few solid warm-up sets with a lighter weight before getting into the heavy stuff.

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Contact Information

Justin is available for online training and

nutrition plans and consultations.

You can reach him at justin.hayward88@gmail.com or visit his website at www.newstarathletics.com where you can online training from the guys you see in the magazines!