Building a Better Back - Training Strength and Hypertrophy

By Alissa Parker, IFBB Figure Pro

As a Gorgo girl, I already know that you understand that having muscle does not make you look big and bulky. So, adding some width to your back can actually create the illusion of a smaller waist and a curvier silhouette. I want to share with you some of my favorite back exercises to create more shape.


Generally, in a week of training I like to hit each body part 2 times at least a few days apart. The first day I train a specific part I will work on strength staying in a lower rep range 5-8 reps.  The second time I train that body part in the week I aim for hypertrophy (muscle growth) and stay in a 12-15 rep range. If you only want to train each body part once per week, use the same protocol just alternate your rep range each week.

Why does incorporating both strength and hypertrophy training work? By training for both strength and muscle growth we will become stronger and be able to lift heavier weight leading to more volume (Volume = weight x reps x sets). More volume equals more muscle. Muscle is not bulky, it is very compact and is nice and shapely. If you want to build some extra metabolism boosting muscle then follow this protocol for training.

When incorporating a cardio routine, it is best performed after lifting, or on a non-lifting day.  I prefer HIIT to steady state cardio which can really be a time saver. Also make sure to get a meal in before each training session including cardio.  You need fuel to perform your best and get the most out of each workout.

Always warm up with at least 2 light sets.

Strength Training Day:


Hypertrophy Training Day:


Alissa Parker:

I am a wife, mother of two girls, an IFBB figure pro and an ISSA certified sports nutrition specialist. I have worked out on and off my whole life. My mom taught aerobics, so I took her classes as a kid. I started lifting in high school. I did go through periods when I didn’t work out at all, I was naturally thin when I was younger.

I had my first daughter at 25 and during that pregnancy I thought I could just eat whatever I wanted, since that was pretty much what I did before anyway. That was not the case! I ended up gaining 60-70 pounds and after I had the baby I was just really fat.

It took me a whole year to get that much weight off just dieting, I didn’t start a work-out routine until my daughter was about nine months when I finally went to the gym and signed my daughter up at the gym’s daycare. It was fantastic! I didn’t know what I was missing, 2 hours of time all to myself, and the daycare was so inexpensive. I was hooked! I began getting in better and better shape and then started competing in figure by the time my first daughter was a year and a half in 2007.