It is unfortunately one of the most neglected body parts ever, and probably the second most neglected part after legs (yes most of you still don’t squat)…but yet the back is probably the most important part of a complete physique.
And it isn’t one of those body parts you can just do a few isolation exercises for and call it a day.
The back is a vast and complex area of muscle that must be trained with the utmost focus and intensity. And exercise selection is paramount.
If your goal is to have a “magazine ready” type back, and you still have a toilet paper roll shaped upper body instead of a V taper…the way you train back must change.
A good back will make your physique look more powerful and also creates the illusion of having a smaller waist…which will make your six pack abs pop even more.
Here’s the thing…your back defines your physique.
Many people train their back, but few ever develop it completely, leaving them to blame it on their genetics or a lack of time.
So if you’re struggling to develop your back don’t worry you’re not alone.
First of all you can’t see you back while you’re training it and it’s very hard to train what you can’t see. And second, it is hard to feel your back muscles as you train them. These are both very serious limitations if not addressed correctly.
Ok now before I get into today’s back workout I want to go over some basic anatomy first. Knowing the anatomy of the muscles you’re training always helps the cause.
The back muscles are located on the posterior region of the torso and their job is to draw the arms downward and back. It is made up of four main muscle groups:
1. The Ladissimus Dorsi, starts up at the upper end of the humerus and runs all of the way down to the pelvic girdle. Their main function is to pull the arm down towards the pelvis.
2. The Trapezius, aka the traps run all of the way down the upper section of the spinal cord and come together in the middle of your back. Their job is to lift and rotate the shoulders (scapular adduction, scapular depression, and scapular elevation).
3. The Erector Spinae, aka the spinal erectors are located around the back of the waist in the lumbar region and are attached to the ribs, pelvis, and the vertebrae. It is divided into three portions: iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis. It extends and laterally flexes the spine and its main function is to provide support to the spine.
4. The Rhomboids And The Teres Major/Minor, the Rhomboids are attached to the middle of the shoulder blade and found on the spinal column. Their job is to bring the shoulder blades together. The Teres Major And Minor are on the outside part of the back just above the lats and close to the shoulders.
If you ever want to build a ripped, powerful, thick, dense back, you need to focus on developing these four muscle groups. You can’t just go into the gym and say, “yeah I’m going to train back today” and just do some back exercises. You need a plan, and you need to use a variety of exercises that target each muscle group so that you can train with the maximum amount of efficiency.
As simple as back training may sound, given that it is such a large body part (sort of like legs), with such an intricate collection of muscles that all have different functions, training it properly can be quite a challenging task.
When I train back I prefer to hit it HARD, and by hard I mean I really increase the volume and often do up to 20 sets per workout. Some people out there may disagree but don’t ask your friendly neighborhood “expert” for back training advice…ask someone with a sick looking back and I bet they will tell you that they train with more rather than less. Remember, don’t take financial advice from a person who won the lottery…and don’t take bodybuilding advice from textbooks and “experts” who don’t have the body to back up anything they claim works.
Now…it can be a very difficult challenge to stimulate your back to respond and grow so if you have been training back for a while and your results have sucked…you probably need to increase the volume to get a little growth spurt going.
When I train back I like to incorporate drop sets, supersets, and squeezing into the mix. I also love to train heavy and hit my back from every angle possible, which means I’ll throw in thickness & width movements along with your usual isolation exercises for balance.
One of the best things you can do while training back is to squeeze your reps. The reason is because when you can FEEL your back you are able to facilitate growth. So try to hold the contracted position for a second or so. If you do this right you should really feel a good burn. Don’t be one of those guys you see Lat Pulling the stack and convulsing like a fish out of water and screaming like their nuts are on fire…these dudes do nothing but embarrass themselves…there is no back training even happening trrruuussssst me! When you squeeze you should really get a good pump going…that’s your signal that you are performing the exercise properly. So don’t worry as much about the amount of weight you are putting up…focus on the feel of the weight.
But before you run off to the gym to try any of this stuff out let me just say that if you want to improve your back you need to start doing more pull ups. Plain and simple. Not enough people are pulling their weight these days if you get my drift. Why? Because pull ups are hard that’s why! I really hope you aren’t one of those people who tries to avoid all of the exercises that hurt (squats, deadlifts, pullups, military presses, and powercleans) and if you are, change your ways immediately! These are probably the 5 best muscle building exercises EVER. Period!
The pull up has been called the upper body squat and for good reason. It is probably one of the best muscle building exercises for your upper body on the planet. Lat pulldowns? Come on, they don’t even compare. The neuromuscular activity on a pull up is dramatically higher than it is for a lat pulldown. So quit yapping about how much you can bench and tell me how many pull ups you can do in a row. That’s one of my true measures of strength. Don’t kid yourself broham.
Ok you get the point, just start doing more pull ups asap.
Below is the back workout I did tonight.
– Deadlifts: Dropset: 3 sets. 325×8, 275×8, 225×8
– Bent Over Rows: Dropset: 3 sets. 275×8, 225×8, 135xfailure
– Pull Ups: 4 sets till failure
– Chin Ups: 4 sets till failure
– Dumbbell Row: 3 sets. 100×10, 110×8, 110×8
– One Arm Standing Cable Row: 3 sets. Your weight will vary.
– T Bar Row: 4 sets of 10.
– Pullovers: 4 sets or 10
– L Pullups: 3 sets till failure
– Reverse Smith Machine Shrugs: 3 sets of 15
– Barbell Good Mornings: 2 sets. 135×15, 135×15
– Hyperextensions: 2 sets till failure
After that I worked on abs for about 10 minutes and here’s what I did for abs.
Abs Superset #1
– Windshield Wipers: 3 sets of 20
– Ab Wheel: 3 sets till failure
Abs Superset #2
– Hanging Leg Raises: 3 sets of 15
– Rope Crunches: 3 sets of 15
And there you have it, today’s epic back workout. As you can see I pretty much hit my back from every angle and targeted all of the four main muscle groups of the back.
Now that you know the basic principles for back development, you need to hit the gym and put your new found knowledge to the test. Try this workout this week and let me know how you made out. I promise you if you use these tips combined with a clean diet, your results will blow through the roof.
Okay that’s my 2 cents for today, lets get at least 50 comments. What are YOUR favorite ways to train back? Share below…