Every trainee is on a different level, over the years different training systems are employed. In the initial period of the strength activity you can observe a tendency to over-burden chest and shoulders' muscles. Indeed, for many young men it is almost a personal tragedy if they observe lower performance on the bench. It is a very rare occurence that people who have just started their workout involve evenly upper and lover body. Fortunately, the idea of training of selected body parts only is slowly being replaced with modern full body workout plans and split trainings.
You should definitely read:A mile-wide back now! - Part 2
In your development a few stages can be isolated which differ in exercises you do and individual approach.
So, stage one: "chest, arms and ABS" (sometimes shoulders are added to this set). Many beginners are capable of doing this 'golden beach set' even 3-4 times a week! It's usually after a few weeks that desperate entries are posted on bodybuilding forums stating lack of results, most commonly measured on the bench. If you want to have a good result in the bench press, you must have made a mistake of ignoring the back muscles. Examine inverted rowing and barbell rowing - compare the movement trajectory with bench pressing and you will certainly arrive at interesting conclusions.
Second most common mistake is a bad choice of exercises, frequency and volume of exercises of the triceps brachii muscle, shoulders and chest. Your result in the bench press is in the greatest extent linked to the weakest part in this whole chain and which is the part that plays the biggest role in overcoming the critical point - that is shoulders and triceps. Ok, this subject has been menioned countless times so just to sum up: if you don't work on your back as intensively as you do on your chest, shoulders and triceps, you will probably never achieve a notable progress on the bench. If you build given muscles groups consistently, you fill face a failure on the next stage of your training. Why? You are increasing your body weight but you are not preparing your back for growing weight. It is like putting more and more sacks of concrete into your car's trunk without increasng the engine power. The same problem appears with legs training: expanded upper body weighs many kilos. If you have skipped leg training, quadriceps, adductors and calfs for years, you will be positively surprised next time you try to squat. Contrary to popular beliefs, running, martial arts or cycling produces small burden for your thighs. For this reason MMA and K1 competitors do strength training, very often with large weights. Even the "iron" Mike Tyson would do... barbell squats. Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko „Crocop” Filipovic? Ernesto Hoost? Andy Hug? You can spend hours enumerating names of famous competitors who did intensive strength workout of their legs. One of the MMA giants, Alistair OVEREEM in a demonstration of his unbelievable strength did a 250 kg exercise of Strongmen - the stairs.
Watch the film: Alistair Overeem's workout deadlifts with Strongman exercises
At the second stage back exercises are included. Unfortunately, because of small weights during the chest, triceps and biceps training, when you try to work on your back, you will be in a shock: "how heavy is this?!". This is why a vast majority of gym-goers avoid pull ups, deadlift or barbell row like the plague. Most often you can see variants of lat pulldown or rowing. A much rarer is a view of lat rowing, and even if you come across such an exercise, it is usually done with way too small weight.
Stage three is the workout of the lower body, that is legs. Most modern amateur athletes ignore or drastically limit legs training. The reason is just the same is before: this training is too hard. Besides, you can use "the time you have saved this way" to train your chest, biceps and triceps. Many trainees have never implemented any exercise for the lower body by which their strength and mass performance has been depleted.
The best back workout includes:
Barbell and dumbbells rowing
And this is where the list could end.
What is perfectly enough for minimalists is 3 basic exercises: pull ups, rowing and dead lift. What about machines? They are not on the list because they are surrogates. As a matter of fact, other exercises (such as lat pulldown) can be a recreational option after your actual workout. Despite the fatigue after pull ups, you will still be able to perform a dozen reps on a machine, and it is with maximum load.
Lat pulldown is a way to pull ups?
Many times have I heard such pieces of advice at the gyms. Even if you do lat pulldowns for 10 years, you will not start to pull up. It's not the way. Instead of wasting your time on a lat pulldown machine, try inverted rows.