Category Archives: How To

How to Program Your High-Intensity Cardio

Conditioning is a vital component of being strong and able to perform.  Not only do you need it to stay lean and mean, but building up your work capacity is the only way to push yourself in the gym on a continual basis and amp up your volume.  If you are out of shape, you cannot progress.  Bottom line.

For many people, they fear conditioning will take away from their gains and they are unsure of how to fit it into their programming.  Have no fear.  If you are training the right way, and not running yourself into the ground, you will shed some fat and build some muscle at the same time.

First of all, you should know what kind of cardio to limit yourself to.  Read this: Cardio For Getting Shredded

Sprinters
Now, as far as programming goes, you have a number of options.

The main thing you need to realize is that you should treat your cardio as you would a lifting session.  What I mean is that you should base your programming around the effort you use for those conditioning sessions and the frequency and timing in which you do it.

So, to throw an example out there, you don’t want to go through a heavy squat workout and then go perform a 100% puke inducing hill sprint session the following day (or vice versa).

There are two simple ways to fit in your high-intensity cardio.

The first is to pair your conditioning sessions with your lifting.  Tack on an extra 20 minutes to your workout to get your hill sprints and sled work in.  Then give yourself a full 48 hours of rest before you tackle another conditioning session.  Some of you may have the discipline to do this. Others read this and probably say “F*ck!  The last thing I want to do after lifting my ass off is do a conditioning session.”

The remedy to this would be two-a-days.  Separate your sprinting from your lifting session by 6 hours or so.  Back in the day, I would jump and sprint at 10am, then go lift at 4pm.  For those of you really trying to cut the fat, hitting up your sprinting sessions first thing in the morning in a fasted state might help you burn more fat than you otherwise would later in the day. Just make sure you drink some coffee or caffeine to increase the thermogenic effect and take in about 10 grams of amino acids to prevent any form of muscle loss.  If you are keeping your sessions to 20 minutes or less and only a couple of times a week, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about anyway.

By doing either of the above, it ensures you are resting on your rest days instead of trying to fit a conditioning session in.

Shredded Girl 2

If you must run a day after lifting, you should tackle those sprints at 60-75% of your max effort instead of going 100% max effort.  A lot of times, these sprints may even help in your recovery after the previous day of hard lifting.  When running on off days just take into account what you did the day before and base your effort on that.

For most people, two 20 minute sessions a week will do the trick for staying lean and maintaining the ability to put on muscle mass.  If you are above 15% bodyfat, or fat loss is your main goal, you can tack on an additional session or perform a couple of high-intensity finishers at the end of your lifting workouts. Five minutes of things like battle ropes or medium height box jumps work really well here.

As a side note, I know I stress high-intensity cardio, and that should in fact be the focus of your conditioning.  But do not underestimate the power of a 30 minute walk upon waking.  Back in the golden age of bodybuilding, and even dating up to Arnold himself, walking on an empty stomach in the morning was mostly all they did to keep fat off.  Not to mention it does wonders for mental focus and your psyche to start the day.

Don’t make conditioning too complicated.  Vary your efforts and allow yourself enough rest so you don’t jeopardize what you are doing in the weight room.  Follow these rules and you will be well on the road to making gains and shredding fat.

Evolve!!

— Tank

7 Tips to Develop Crushing Grip Strength

Grip strength is one of the most overlooked aspects of training, yet it can be one of your most important assets in your quest to get stronger.

grip strength

The stronger your grip, the better you will perform at all of the big lifts like the bench press and deadlift.

This all stems from something called “radiant tension”.  For every lift, you should be gripping the sh*t out of the bar.  When you do this, the tension will travel from your hands, into your forearms, through your upper arms and into your shoulders and so on.  This is radiant tension.  Any experienced lifter knows that to get stronger and press more weight, you have to be able to create not only radiant tension, but also total body tension.  Grip strength is your starting point.

If you want to test this concept, do a light set of bench presses with a slack or just loose grip.  You will notice that your control over the bar isn’t that great and you aren’t recruiting a ton of muscle to do the lift.  Then do a set with as much radiant tension as you can muster by really death clutching the bar, and I guarantee you will be able to feel a difference in your muscle recruitment, efficiency, and force production.

So, what if your grip sucks?  How the hell do you fix it?  Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.  Here are 7 ways to develop crushing grip strength:

#1: Death Grip the Bar

I already mentioned this is the key to creating radiant tension.  You should be doing this on every single rep of every single set.  If you want to get good at something, you have to practice.  Frequently grabbing the bar as hard as possible will improve your grip strength over time.

#2: Use a Thicker Bar

Thick bar training is not only what I attribute my grip strength to, but also my forearm development.  In fact, I haven’t used a standard size barbell in years.  Using a thick bar will challenge your grip and force you to get stronger.

If you don’t have thick bars at your gym, pony up $40 and invest in a pair of Fat Gripz.  This is what I use and they are ALWAYS in my gym bag.  You can purchase them on the right hand side of this page.

grip strength

#3: Do Not Lift With a Bar At All

If you missed my post on imperfection training, check it out here.

Training with odd objects can be one of the best things you can do to help develop your grip strength.  Why?  Because odd-objects typically have no grip!

Sandbags and stones for example have nowhere for you to naturally put your hand around.  You simply have to grip it wherever you can get your hands placed in order to move the weight, and your hand position will rarely be in the same place twice.  This is a sure-fire way to force your body to use radiant tension, whether or not you even realize it.

This will also take your fingers out of some of the lifts, forcing you to be more proficient with your entire hands and upper body muscles to help maintain a hold on whatever you are lifting.  This brings me to the next technique for maximizing your gripping power…

#4: Use False Grip

A false grip is simply switching up how you grip things, taking the emphasis off of your fingers, and gripping anything you might be holding deeper into your hands.

For those of you trying to learn muscle ups, using a false grip is crucial.  But this also applies to your various strength training exercises as well.  Using this kind of grip gives you more surface area on the things you are gripping, naturally giving you more power and ability to sustain gripping power.

Watch this video.  Travis Bagent gives a great breakdown on the false grip and how that has helped him in his arm wrestling career.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9235-tIBkA[/tube]


#5: Ditch the Straps

For the longest time I didn’t use straps.  I viewed them as cheating.  However, my outlook on that has since changed and I think there is a time and place for them.

If you want to emphasize a muscle group, but don’t want your reps to suffer and fail prematurely because of your grip, it makes sense to use straps.  But they are a slippery slope.  I started using them too frequently during a training cycle, and then when I started training without them again, I immediately noticed my grip had weakened.

Use them strategically but not too frequently.

#6: Deadlift

If you are picking up heavy weight off the floor repeatedly, you will develop serious gripping power.  Deadlifting is awesome for this because you inherently squeeze the hell out of the bar anyway.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone deadlift with a slack grip.

So, not only will you be moving serious weight with a strong grip, you will be utilizing radiant tension that will carry over into your other lifts.

grip strength

#7: Farmers Carries

Anybody that knows me knows that I have a special place in my heart for farmers carries.  In fact, I think they are one of the top 5 exercises of all time.

Picking up heavy sh*t and walking is the ultimate grip test.  You can also carry light to moderate weight over longer distances to develop your “grip endurance” that will help you maintain a strong grip over the course of long training sessions.

So get a grip Primal Nation.  Without it, I can promise you that your performance is suffering.

Evolve!!

— Tank

How to Build Bigger Arms

When I was a little kid, I always envied Hulk Hogan’s “24-inch pythons”.

strength training big arms

Fast forward 15 years later, and I probably trained my arms harder than anything else in the gym. Truth be told, I got good results but the rest of my body suffered. Rookie mistakes…

Now that I am a little older and a little wiser, I take a more well-rounded approach to building my arms that not only gives me more mass on my biceps and triceps, but improves my overall body mass and strength as well.

Want to make sure your gun show is a hit?

Let’s break down a good strength training approach to building bigger arms.

Top 3 Arm Building Exercises

#1: Dips

These are my go-to tricep builders.  I usually hit these after a heavy pressing exercise like the bench or overhead press.  Knocking out 4 sets of this with 12-16 reps should do the trick.  Once you can crush these with regularity using bodyweight, load up some plates on a weight belt or strap some chains around your neck and get to work.

Avoid doing these with your body straddled between 2 benches, feet propped up on one and your hands on another.  This style is a recipe for a pec tear and is not good on your shoulders.  Go with the classic approach on a dip stand.  Make sure your elbows remain tucked in; no flaring out like a chicken.

#2: Curl Variations

Everybody can do curls.  These are great bicep builders and an exercise you can do with a relatively high frequency since your bi’s are able to recover so quickly.  I tend to favor them with an EZ curl bar.  A straight bar is okay if that’s all you got, but they can be hard on your wrists and elbows.

I don’t ever recommend curling heavy.  Curl for “the pump” by using high volume and moderate weights.  Rep ranges should be in the neighborhood of 8-20 depending on the resistance and keep your rest periods low.

Work the variations into your training.  Concentration curls, reverse curls, and dumbbell work are all good.  One thing you don’t see much are power curls, but if you need to get some volume in with heavier than normal weights, these are a great way to do it.

#3: Close Grip Bench Press

Aside from dips, this is one of the best tricep exercises you can do.  Take a narrow grip on a flat bench, and press a loaded barbell.  Obviously, you will be pressing much less weight than a normal bench press, so pick something you can handle for 16-20 reps.  Again, you could work these in after a normal pressing exercise.  Here I like to keep my tempo pretty fast, almost as if I was doing speed work per Westside methods.

Focus on keeping your elbows tight to your body to emphasize your tri’s.  At least 4 sets here with 12-20 reps a piece.  Focus on volume, not intensity.strength training close grip bench press

Anything else?

When you are doing direct arm work, those are the 3 exercises that I would emphasize.  Others, like skull-crushers or dumbbell presses are fine, but listen to your body.  If you are experiencing elbow or shoulder pain, ditch them.  Injury simply isn’t worth it, and the 3 I laid out above work.  No need to re-invent the wheel.

Arm Building Principles to Live By

#1: Focus on volume

Getting big guns is all about volume.  Volume may be the most important factor to gaining mass in your arms; more so than it is in other parts of your body.  So don’t waste your time trying to train too heavy with curls or dips.  Gradually build your strength but maintain high rep ranges.

Your arms are quick to recover too.  Hit them with a higher frequency during the week, capitalizing on a day or two of rest instead of 4 or 5.

#2: Triceps > Biceps

strength training dips

Big arms are based around big triceps.  A nice peak to your guns looks nice and all, but arm size and strength is mostly concentrated on your tri’s.  So if you want bigger arms, what you are really saying is that you want bigger triceps.

Plus, the bigger and stronger your triceps are, the more success you will have in your other big pressing lifts like the bench and overhead.  In fact, I train my triceps strictly to get better at those lifts, rather than just trying to get bigger arms.  If you want bigger arms, I’m guessing you want mass everywhere else too, so the more you can press, the better off you will be.

#3: Build Your Arms with Indirect Arm Work

This is by far the most important principle to remember.  If you take nothing else from this post, please at least take this.

Spend less time doing direct arm work and hit them indirectly instead.  This will free up a ton of time for you to build more total body mass by focusing on compound lifts like the bench, overhead press, row variations, pull-ups, pushups, etc.

Even though you aren’t isolating your arms, pull-ups and row variations will build your biceps, and presses will crush your triceps.  You will be hitting your arms far more than you realize and then you can supplement this work with curls and dips, albeit spending far less time isolating just one part of your body.

Trust me, your arms won’t shrink if you don’t do 20 sets of bicep curls a week.

I didn’t touch my arms for 6 months, meaning I only did indirect arm work, and they still grew.  Since then, I’ve added curls and dips once a week in addition to standard pressing exercises on my 2 upper body days, and the gun show is in full effect.

So by following this principle, not only will your arms get bigger, the rest of your body will too.  If your guns aren’t growing as fast as you’d like, spend an extra 20 minutes a week getting in more volume but try not to sacrifice the other critical parts of your training.

strength training curls

Wrapping Up

So there ya go.

3 exercises and 3 principles that will get you bigger arms in a hurry.

If you missed the other parts of this series, check them out here:

How to Get Bigger Legs

How to Get A Bigger Chest

How to Get a Bigger Back

Evolve!!

— Tank
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Underground Strength Coach

How to Build A Bigger Chest

Everybody loves a nice set of pecs.strength training

Aside from some bulging guns, nothing fills out a shirt better than a big chest.

“But Tank, my chest is flat as a pancake.”

It’s ok.  I’m here to help.

So what’s first?

If you want to build a rack like this, then your training should focus around 2 exercises.

#1: Bench Press

The bench is the undisputed numero uno mass builder for your chest.

If I’m going for pure strength, I’ll stick with flat bench and really load up some plates.  But for hypertrophy, you are far better off setting the bench to a slight incline (around 30 degrees) and working with loads 70-85% of your 1RM.  Flat bench will build chest width, but targeting your upper chest with the incline will help build “peaks”, and really add mass to your frame.

Bench is one of those exercises that you can “brute force” your way through it, but I encourage you to really fine tune your form.  You will get much more out of benching this way; I’d bet that your 1RM would go up at least 10lbs in some cases by just making a few adjustments.

Feet firmly anchored into the floor, legs and glutes tightened, lower back off the bench with your chest high and shoulder blades firmly retracted into the bench.  Do not simply sink into the bench.  These are all things you should be thinking of each and every rep, including your warm ups.

After a few warm up sets, you are ready to work.  Hit about 3-5 working sets.  Normal strength training law applies; 3-5 reps for strength, and 6-12 for mass gain.  You should be aiming to get stronger since the more weight you can press, the bigger you will get, but to gain mass you will need to amp up the volume.

Vary your grips from time to time.  Forget about the decline.  Throw some fat gripz on the bar to build Popeye forearms and protect your shoulders.  Dumbells are good too for this same reason.  In fact, after benching for a few months with a barbell I encourage you to switch to dumbbells for a while to save you from some wear and tear.strength training incline press

#2: Pushups

This classic can be easily overlooked, but truth be told, aside from bench this should be your go to chest destroyer.  The beauty of these is that you can do them anywhere, anytime, with countless numbers of variations.  Your goal should be to perform at least 20 normal perfect pushups before even thinking about doing any of the other variations.

women's strength trainingQuickest way to get better?  Do them every single day.  Even if they are not a core part of your training that day, at a minimum they should be worked into your warmup.  I will also do these as a finisher, typically in ladder fashion.  1 pushup, 1 second rest.  2 pushups, 2 seconds rest.  3, 3, 4, 4.  You get the idea.  All the way up to 10.  That will get you 55 reps in less than two minutes.  Keep working at these and you will be a pushup master in no time.

Just make sure you are doing them properly.  You’d be surprised how many people think they are doing them right, but they aren’t.

Your body should be aligned as if you were doing a plank.  Legs, glutes, and core tight.  No saggy ass or arched back.  Your elbows should be tucked towards your sides and pointing backwards; do not let them flare out to the sides.  Hands about shoulder width apart and your thumb should line up just under your armpits.  Lower yourself down until your chest almost touches, and then press yourself back up.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIVTUUSBYQM[/tube]

 

“But Tank, only 2 exercises?  What about dumbbell and cable flyes, dumbbell pullovers, and the pec deck machine?”

Good question.

Listen, I know it is easy to get wrapped up in doing all of this other chest sh*t that you read in magazines, but unless you know how to program them into your training properly, they can be a waste of time.

First of all, machines suck.  Don’t use them.  And dumbbell chest work (aside from presses) is usually isolation.  If you don’t know how I feel about isolating your muscles, read here and hereCompound exercises are king. 

Now if you are trying to add more volume to your chest work and need to save wear and tear on you joints and shoulders, dumbell flyes and other isolations may be okay for a few sets a week, but they should never be your focus.  Beginners (those who have been training for less than 2 years) need to stick the basics.  If you are more advanced, you may be more qualified to work these into your training.

Besides, if you are benching properly with the right program, and mastering the pushup variations, you really don’t need to worry about anything else.

“Alright Tank, what else should I know?”

Glad you ask!

Strengthen Your Triceps

strength training triceps

Your tris are a critical part to any pressing movement, and other than your chest, the main muscle used in the two most important chest exercises.  So it is natural to train up your triceps to help you bench more weight and for more reps.  And I’m not sure about you, but whenever I do pushups, my triceps are the first thing to go.

Dips are my go to here.  I keep my rep ranges moderate to high, usually in the 12-20 range.  As you progress, strap on a weight belt and add some plates to the mix.  Perform these on a dip stand.  Propping your feet up on a bench is a recipe for a pec tear or shoulder problems…

You can also do exercises like skull-crushers or behind the neck dumbbell presses, but some of you may experience elbow pain as you crank up the weight.  If this applies to you, back off the weight and/or reps and just focus on dips.

Rope pull downs on cable machines?  Nope!  Remember, machines suck.

Stretching

I’ll admit I wasn’t as privy to chest stretching until I did a cycle of DoggCrapp.  I know that sounds funny, but if you aren’t familiar with “DC”, you should check it out, especially since you are reading this article and trying to gain mass.  It is a great program.

Anyhow, following DC protocol, you have to stretch your muscles in between each exercise for 60 seconds.  The chest stretch was my favorite.  You simply take two dumbbells that are light weight (I did 40’s), lay on a flat bench, let them fall out to your sides and hold them there for a minute.  The position should look like the very bottom of a chest fly.  Brutal, but worth it.

women's strength trainingIf you missed my post on how to build bigger legs, you didn’t hear me talk about how long muscles are strong muscles.  The longer the muscle, the more room you have for adding mass.

Bottom line?  Stretch!

That’s it people.  You’ve got the recipe for building a mountain of a chest.  Now go and make it happen.

When your man-cleavage starts busting out of your t-shirts, don’t hate me…

Evolve!!

— Tank

How to Build Bigger Legs

When explaining the human body to people, I generally compare it to a house.

strength bigger legs

Your legs are the foundation, your torso the frame, and everything else is supporting structure.

Without the foundation, the house sinks and crumbles over time.  It is not built to last.

Your body is no different.  Your legs are the most important part of your body and only become more important over time as you get older.

Top 5 Leg Exercises

#1: Squat Variations

There are dozens of squat variations out there with hundreds of different resistance tools to use.  Start with back squats and front squats.  Once you master those you can mix in the other variations, including the single leg variety.

I tend to train squats with low to moderate rep ranges most of the time to build maximal strength.  I rarely go above 8 reps here and train with a lot of heavy doubles and triples.

When you feel like you need more volume, throw in high rep sets every now and then.  If I’m squatting for say, multiple sets of 300+ with low reps, I may throw in one or two sets at 185 for 20 reps.  Your legs will be throbbing, and if you are a pump chaser, this will do the trick.

#2: Deadlift

It is the number one mass builder of all time and one of the top brute strength exercises.

Some people consider this an upper body exercise (and for good reason) because it will pack a lot of muscle on your back.  But it will also build tree trunk legs and help you develop overall body strength and power.

I rarely do these for high reps.  I make sure I’m really stacking the weight on the bar and getting after it.

If you want to do high reps here, really tamper down the weight, somewhere in the 50%-70% of your 1RM and perform reps explosively and with relatively high tempo.  High tempo is not an excuse for poor form.  Form always trumps all.

women's strength legs

#3: Good Mornings

A lot of times we focus too much on the muscles we can see, and neglect the posterior chain.  Good mornings will build football sized muscle on your hamstrings.  The added strength will benefit you in the squat and deadlift as well.

Hit these for moderate to high reps (5-16 reps) for multiple sets.  I do these after squats or deadlifts.  Keep your form tight to protect your back.

#4: Glute Ham Raise

Another great posterior chain exercise that will beef up your hamstrings.  I’d recommend doing these as a warmup, or as a precursor to one of the big leg lifts like the squat.  I’ve heard Joe DeFranco talking about his athletes performing upwards of 100 of these (with resistance) before doing anything else.

If you don’t have a glute ham raise machine, you can do these using TRX bands or a stability ball.  In the beginning, I would do these at least 3 times a week.  When I was trying to strengthen my hamstrings, I did these every single workout, even if I was training upper body.

#5: Jumps (Plyos)

Another great warm up exercise and a key component of training like an athlete.  For a while, my cardio consisted strictly of pulling and pushing sleds, and doing box jumps.  But plyos build a ton of leg strength and explosive power as well.  Coincidently, when I was at peak performance in my jumping, my squat numbers were at all time highs.

Box jumps, broad jumps, one legged jumps; if you can jump it, do it.  Work them into your warmup.  Start with just 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps a piece.  Rest up to 2 minutes in between.  

Focus with each rep because jumping can be dangerous, especially when landing.  Cushion yourself to absorb the fall and stick the landing.

Check this guy out, really damn impressive…

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGl2XFhpX5k[/tube]

Moving on…

Ok, so what else do you need to know? 

In addition to making those exercises are part of your normal training, you need to add the following components as well.

Warming Up

You should be hitting a warm up before every workout.  I have my clients do the same warm up every single time.  It may sound boring, but it is effective and is something I learned from world class strength coach Zach Even Esh.  In our warm-ups, we are hitting bodyweight squats and lunges, various jumps, sprinting, back pedaling, lateral shuffling, and crawling.

This is also a time when you should be foam rolling.  Hit your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and inner and outer thighs.  If you are hitting squats as the main component of your workout that day, take the foam roller with you.  It is not uncommon that I am foam rolling in between sets to keep loosening things up so I can squat deeper.

Hill Sprints and Sled Work

If you know my philosophy, I don’t believe in training muscles as much as I do movements.  One of the primary movements that man must perform to survive is “gait”.  Therefore you must run.  But I also believe in building muscle, so I don’t run for distance.  Instead I train high intensity which almost exclusively means hill sprints and sled work.  I do this a couple times a week to supplement my normal weight training.  Walter Payton emphasized hill sprints in his training and he seemed to have some minor success relying on his legs…

strength bigger legs

Stretching

Long muscles are strong muscles.  Remember that.

The longer your muscles are the more room you have to pack in dense mass, hence you get bigger.  Besides, as you get older, you need to be flexible.  You don’t want to be an old person who can’t tie their own shoes or spends half their morning trying to get out of bed.  If you are a young’en, you may be flexible now, but don’t think that will last forever.  And the more flexible you are, the more range of motion you have; this will come in key for squats, lunges, and jumps.

You can do some static stretching before your workout, but it really should only be the focus after the meat of your training is done.  Stick with foam rolling and active movements prior.  Then afterwards you can static stretch and foam roll some more and call it a day.

What now?

Put all of this together and you will build bigger legs, no doubt.

So if you are serious about training and improving your performance, you must attack your legs with the same ferocity that you would your chest or your biceps. You have the knowledge now, so take action and get it done.

Remember, you don’t build a house without a foundation…

— Tank

 

How to Build A Bigger Back

A well developed back can be one of the biggest indicators of someone disciplined in the strength game. Your back contains a ton of musculature and there are a ton of different ways to attack it, so the key is knowing how to make the most of your back training.

Using compound exercise are key and working in a lot of different variations will help ensure you are hitting all of the different muscles in your back. The following exercises should represent your foundation.

muscle building back

Top 5 Back Building Exercises

  1. Pull-Ups – This classic exercise narrowly missed being in my overall Top 5 Muscle Building Exercises,  but it can easily be argued as the best back builder of all time.  If you are serious about any kind of strength training program, this is a must!  Be sure to try the dozens of variations out there (wide grip, neutral grip, overhand, underhand, static holds, etc.).
  2. Farmer Carries – This is one of my favorite exercises, not only for its effectiveness but also its versatility.  You can carry anything!  You don’t need a gym to do these.  Try performing a couple heavy rounds of these and your back will be crushed.  And not only that, this will develop your gripping power like none other, which will help you in any other heavy lift you do at the gym.
  3. Deadlift – While some may initially think of this as a leg exercise, nothing puts meat on your traps like the deadlift.  Pulling up heavy sh*t off the floor and holding it there is a killer workout.  Nothing measures overall strength like the deadlift, and its full body benefits make it the #1 muscle building exercise of all time.
  4. Hang Cleans – Hang cleans produce 4 times as much power as squats and deadlifts, and 9 times as much as the bench press, according to some research.  It’s an easy lift to learn and one of the most effective exercises for building your shoulders and upper back.  They also develop your explosiveness, which will carry over into your other lifts and directly translate to increase athletic performance.
  5. Bent Over Rows – You can perform these a number of ways, but my personal favorite is using dumbbells.  Barbells allow you to really stack the weight, but can put greater stress on your back and also opens the opportunity for your stronger side to overcompensate for your weaker side.  Dumbbells may expose your weak side, but will also force you to isolate it, making sure both sides get equal work.  This is also a great arm builder and grip strength exercise as well.muscle building back

You should be training your back at least multiple times a week on your upper body days. These 5 exercises should be performed at least once during your weekly training schedule.

With pull-ups and rows, there are so many variations to choose from, so make sure you work them in. Many times I work farmers carries into my conditioning drills on lower body days to get additional back work in. On your active recovery days, pull-ups make a great option as light bodyweight work that will build a ton of muscle.

— Tank