IFBB Pro Valerie Ratelle recently sat down with Prep Coach Dorian Hamilton to learn as much as possible about back training, an area she is focusing on improving for her next show. Valerie recently took to her Youtube channel to share the back workout she did with Dorian. There are some great pro tips from Hamilton not to be missed.


Hailing from Quebec, Canada, Valerie began competing in bodybuilding in 2015. She placed 1st in the 2019 Toronto Pro Qualifier and won the Canadian Pro Qualifier again in 2019. Valerie placed 11th at the IFBB Toronto Pro Supershow 2021 last year and is eager to compete this year with an improved physique.


Dorian is the Head Coach at TeamHD in Ontario, Canada. He is a prep coach making waves in bodybuilding, having spent over 10 years learning from the likes of the masters of the sport such as Chris Aceto, George Farah, Layne Norton and Milos Sarcev. He has coached some notable names in the sport including Antoine Vaillant, Regan Grimes and Quinton Eriya.

Valerie Ratelle’s back workout with Dorian Hamilton

The video begins with Valerie mixing her intra-workout shake, one scoop of CarbHD, two scoops of EAAHD, and a very small scoop of salt. All the supplements she uses in this video are from HDMUSCLE. She explains that she has been focused on building her back and plans to work with Dorian to learn as much as possible.

After a short camera change, the video goes straight to the training, with Dorian explaining the first exercise. This entire video is educational, so each exercise is broken down into parts and very few actual working sets are shown.

Avenger series

The training video goes straight to Dorian and explains the importance of hand placement in an Avenger Row. Dorian seems easy to start with only 45 on each side to focus more on the shape and the eccentric/concentric parts of the lift. Valerie takes her first set on the machine and can be seen adjusting her body and hands according to Dorian’s instructions.

Dorian explains that one shouldn’t overthink the exercise because one tends to break the exercise down into separate parts rather than focusing on how the movement is flowing and how it should be performed. According to Dorian, by treating this exercise as an isolated hold, you force the muscle to contract harder without adding extra weight.

Single arm bent over row

Next is a one-arm bent-over row with a dumbbell. Dorian explains to Valerie how to grab a barbell to make sure the weight is in line with her wrist. Next you can see him explain that your weight should be on your lead foot when you perform the lift (the lead foot is on the same side as the side you are working on). Training reps ranged from 12 to 15 with a slightly lighter weight to work on form.

Barbell rows bent over

A bent-over barbell row is more complex than the last few moves, so Dorian takes a little extra time to go over some good tips while completing a barbell row. You can see in the video that his hands are just outside shoulder width apart.

Some of the other tips he describes are:

  1. Almost bend into a squat, using your glutes as stabilizers.
  2. The bar is above your toes. Make sure you keep your body over the bar and make sure you can pull through when performing the lift.
  3. You don’t want to hook the bar with your hands, instead of palming the bar to make sure the bar is aligned with your wrist.
  4. Don’t tuck your thumbs away; Make sure you wrap it up.

Dorian says he often struggles with this exercise and then proceeds to complete a set of 6-8 reps, pressing for a few seconds at the top of each rep. Valerie tries it out while Dorian counts her tempo for the first few reps.

One Arm High Row

The machine appears to be a cross between a lat pulldown and a high row. Dorian can be seen starting with his right arm fully extended to put tension on the lat; then he cracks his elbow, which starts the backward movement into a high row.

In terms of weight, there’s a 45-pound plate on each side, and each rep is done slowly, with an emphasis on the stretch and compression of each rep. Reps seem to be high again in the 10-12 range. Dorian tells Valerie that there was another very similar machine that he wanted to show her because he wanted to see how it worked with her body. But of course everyone is different, so not all equipment or exercises have the same effect.

This second machine appears to have a shorter range of motion than the first for this exercise. This is the first exercise so far where Dorian appears to complete a working set; You can hear him straining and trying. He also amps up the weight by adding a 25-pound plate on each side of the 45-pound plate.

Wide grip pull downs

For the last exercise, Dorian briefly explains that they will keep the elbows out to work more of the upper back for this exercise. Valerie then asks Dorian how to work on the width and thickness of her back. He explains that the back is very complex and full of muscles, so you need to do different exercises to get a properly shaped back. You don’t always need more lats to create a better back; Sometimes you need to work your rhomboids and other muscles that don’t usually get as much attention. Dorian shows Valerie two different hand positions for this exercise that would work for her; Rotate her palms inward as she brings the handles down or keeps the palms forward throughout the rep.


Valerie believes that one of her mistakes in the previous attempt to build up her back was doing the wrong exercises. She needs to focus on 3-4 exercises to get the best muscle contractions during her back workout.

Dorian reveals she’ll be doing a pro show in Toronto or Vancouver in 2022. During her off-season, she will work to improve her back, legs and shoulders by removing variables in her programming.

Example of a back workout inspired by Dorian Hamilton and Valerie Ratelle

Here’s an excellent workout inspired by the video that you can try next time you go to the gym.

Warm-up: Seated one-arm row: 3 sets x 10 reps

  1. Superset: Wide-grip lat pulldowns 3 sets x 15 reps + rear delt flys 3 sets x 10 reps
  2. Bent-over one-arm dumbbell row: 4 sets x 10 reps
  3. Close-grip barbell rows: 3 sets x 15 reps
  4. One-arm pulldowns: 3 sets x 10 reps

Rest between sets should be 45-90 seconds.

Final Thoughts

It’s nice to see two rising talents working together in the gym. We’re excited to see what the future holds for Ratelle and Hamilton.

If you try this workout, let us know what you think about it in the comments below.

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