Training your back can result in a much more 3D look. Next to legs, I find it’s such an undertrained muscle group that grows your physique.
It’ll give you a powerful look, not just seen from behind. That V taper is something that is so highly desired in bodybuilding, the back is no excuse in bringing it all together.
Let me show you what I mean here:
See how his lats (latissiumus dorsi) pop out from underneath his chest? It aids in the flow of his entire physique. From the broad shoulders to the tight waist, everything adds up. The lats not only gives you depth, but when you work back you also work your teres major and minor.
So what the hell does that mean to me?
When you work your back, you hit a whole bunch of smaller muscle groups. It’s not just your lats that gets worked. Your traps lets people know that you lift. Your teres major blends in with the infraspinatus muscle when you flex your bicep, looking from behind.
See what I mean?
Now let’s jump in to 3 killer exercises that are gonna make your back explode.
V Bar pull down
This is my favourite back exercise and one of my overall favourite exercises to do. You can overload the weight and really throw some weight around, or hit it with high reps and get that delicious pump.
Tip: Imagine pulling down with the tips of your elbows. Get your elbows to point the ground on the positive motion (concentric contraction). Keep your arms tight to your body and try to actually feel your lats with the back of your arms on the way down.
Doing it: Do your normal warmup routine and hit these with some heavy ass weight. Aim for the 6-8 rep mark, focussing on the squeeze of your lats on the way up and down. Bring the V bar about down to your sternum level and control the weight on the way up (eccentric contraction).
Don’t feel it? Lower the weight.
From a bodybuilding perspective, if you don’t feel the weight then you’re doing something wrong. I can’t stress this part enough. When you simply just move the weight, you’re not actually targeting the muscle group effectively.
Ever see that old dude in your gym curling way too much weight? Ever notice how that same guy uses his full body while curling? It’s nothing short of a weight lifting induced epileptic seizure. Very little tension is on the actual bicep in this example. Somehow he turned an isolation exercise into a goddamn full body one.
I’m not saying it’s completely useless, you’re still lifting, but there are just better ways of exercising.
Wide grip cable row
This exercise really helps build on the thickness of your back. The trick with this exercise is to do the full range of motion. Don’t just move the goddamn weight, feel the weight!
Tip: Pull the bar towards your navel while keeping your back straight and core tight. You’ll feel the pump right in the middle of your back if you’re doing it right.
Doing it: Hit this exercise with a medium weight, 3 sets of 10-12 reps. You want to really work your entire back with that full stretch (like you’re actually rowing!)
Not feeling it? Try it thumbless. This will put less emphasis on your forearms and more on your lats, so be prepared to lower the weight a bit. The weight is irrelevant in some instances, just chase that pump!
This is the gold standard of back building, the bread and butter of muscle sculpting. It’s such an easy to execute exercise that it’s a no brainer not to do.
The best part is the dumbbell row: it works your entire back. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than this! It’s not going to hit your traps as hard as a barbell shrug, but it’s a great all around exercise to incorporate into your routine.
Tip: Try this exercise on an incline bench. Put one knee on the bench and grasp the top of the bench with your hand. It’ll work the same muscles but you’ll get a different kind of stretch. Trust me, it’s worth doing!
Doing it: Row past your body with the dumbbell. Don’t stop at chest height! Like I mentioned earlier, envision pulling your elbows back. If you’re on a flat bench, think about pointing your elbows up the wall.
Experiment with different rep ranges and weights. Your back can handle stress, so don’t go too light weight. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try rows in the 15-20 rep range, but you should keep a consistent pump. Remember, don’t just move the weight; feel the weight!
Incorporate these exercises into your back training and I guarantee you’ll grow.
Rome wasn’t built in one day, and neither was your back. Being consistent is what will lead to growth!