If you are questioning how to get a wider back, then you are in for the solution to your answers.


Undoubtedly, a wide back is essential to aesthetics, because it will not only make you look good from the back but will also give you a nice V-Taper.

That is, even if your waist is big!

Insert Video

Take a look at the G.O.A.T of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger for example.

Unlike the competitors in his division, Arnold had a relatively massive waistline, measuring at 34 inches.

Nevertheless, his tremendous back development allowed him to showcase one of the best-flowing V-Tapers of all time.

In this article, I will give you the 3 exercises you NEED, in order to develop a wider back.

The workout is based on the "Balloon method", which optimizes the 3 pillars of muscle growth:

1 Mechanical tension

2 Metabolic stress

3 Muscle damage

But before we dive into the workout, let's first briefly explain what actually makes your back look wider.

BACK ANATOMY

Back anatomy

Developing a wider back all starts with the BIGGEST muscle on your upper body - The latissimus dorsi (LD).

Many people may think that the pectoral muscles are the biggest muscle group of the torso, but fact of the matter is that the LD has a much bigger cross-sectional area.

The Latissimus dorsi, also known as the "lats", start right at the top of your back, next to the scapula and attach all the way down at the lower back. 1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK448120/

If you properly target the lats, as well as the outer muscles of the back (teres minor and teres major), you will, without a doubt, spur growth your back width.

Now, there are many people that do the exact same back exercises but have massive differences in back development.


So what actually makes the difference?

Well, there are a couple of factors:

  1. 1
    Genetic muscle insertions and bellies
  2. 2
    Individual genetic response to training
  3. 3
    Exercise execution
  4. 4
    Intensity techniques used

This workout will revolve around the most classical back exercises, done through proper range of motion, with a perfect form.

We will also throw in certain intensity techniques based on the balloon method, to optimize the 3 pillars of muscle growth, mentioned earlier.

Rest assured, even if you feel like you have "Bad genetics", this workout will change your perspective and visual look.

Of course, that won't happen with just one workout, but if you stay consistent, I PROMISE you will see results.

Let's get to it now!

WIDE BACK WORKOUT - BALLOON METHOD

wider back workout

As mentioned, this workout consists of heavy, compound movements, done in the 6+ rep range, which is also known as the "muscle building range".

Intensity techniques used:

  • Dropsets
  • Supersets
  • Time under tension

looking to build your dream physique?

Take the 60-second SuperHuman Quiz to learn what the perfect plan of attack is to get your dream body in 12 weeks!

#1 EXERCISE - BARBELL ROWS

Sets: 3-5 (3 for beginners, 5 if you are more advanced)

Reps: 10-12 (If you're advanced, drop weight 50% after the 5th set and do another 10-12)

This first horizontal pulling exercise is one of the pillars to back development.

Remember that each and every joint and its muscles can move through a variety of angles.

The barbell row can be done either with a free-weight barbell, or on a smith machine.

Note that the smith machine barbell row will give MASSIVE activation of the lats, mainly because the barbell is fixed and it doesn't allow you to jerk the weight as a barbell would.

Execution:

  1. 1
    Load the smith machine and place the bar at the lowest pin
  2. 2
    Place feet at shoulder width for stability and bend knees slightly
  3. 3
    Stand behind the bar and grab it at shoulder width, with an underhand grip
  4. 4
    Un-rack the bar and bend over until your torso is pretty much parallel to the ground
  5. 5
    Without moving the torso up whatsoever, row the barbell to the lower portion of your abdomen
  6. 6
    Keeping elbows closer to your torso, contract the back up top
  7. 7
    Go back down slowly

#2 EXERCISE - CABLE PULLDOWN SUPERSET

Sets: 3-5 (3 for beginners, 5 if you are more advanced)

Repetitions: 12-15 for beginners and 10-12 for advanced (For advanced trainees, include the superset for an additional 10-12 reps per side)

If you have never done this exercise, prepare to feel back muscles you never even knew existed.

This second movement is not necessarily designed for heavy lifting, more so than activation, stretch and blood filling.

Now, there are some subtleties to it that will make the difference in activation, so let's have a look.

Execution:

  1. 1
    Place a bend bar attachment on the upper cable pulley
  2. 2
    Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width
  3. 3
     Step back with feet at shoulder width and knees slightly bent
  4. 4
    Bend over and keep your elbows ever so slightly bent, out of lockout
  5. 5
    At this point, you should be feeling the stretch of your back
  6. 6
    Pull down, maintaining that static position of the elbow (no flexion nor extension of the elbow joint)
  7. 7
    Squeeze the back hard at the bottom and return back up slowly

Advanced Superset:

  1. 1
    Grab the same bar but with a grip narrower than shoulder width
  2. 2
    Step back, place feet and arms the same way and bend over
  3. 3
    Pull down and as you are doing so, rotate the bar to the left side
  4. 4
    Contract the left lat at the bottom and go back up slowly
  5. 5
    Do the same on the right side
  6. 6
    Execute another 10-12 repetitions per side

Tip: 
To do the superset exercise easier, imagine you are rowing a boat

#3 EXERCISE - ONE ARM DUMBBELL ROW

Sets: 3-5 (3 for beginners, 5 if you are more advanced)

Repetitions: 30 seconds time under tension for beginners, 45 seconds for advanced trainees

Including at least one iso-lateral movement is a viable option for every muscle group, including the back.

That is because a one-sided movement will allow you to single-handedly (pun intended) focus on just that section of the muscle group.

More focus equals more activation and more activation means better growth.

For this last movement, we will utilize a tweak in the execution form, in order to get the best lat activation possible.

Execution:

  1. 1
    Set a bench to an incline, 45-degree angle
  2. 2
    Place a dumbbell behind the bench
  3. 3
    Stand behind the bench with feet at shoulder width and knees bent slightly
  4. 4
    Place your right arm on the bench and bend over substantially
  5. 5
     Reach down and grab the dumbbell
  6. 6
    Keep your back straight and let the dumbbell hang down freely
  7. 7
    Let the dumbbell go to the right side, past the mid line of your body
  8. 8
    Pull the dumbbell up and to the left with the elbow closer to the body
  9. 9
    Pulling to the lower abdomen, contract the left lat and go back down slowly
  10. 10
     Repeat the motion pattern for 30-45 seconds time under tension

BOTTOM LINE

If you're wondering how to get a wider back, think about this - Developing a wide back is a matter of proper activation and overload of the latissimus dorsi and the outer, superficial back muscles.

The best way to target those, is to use heavy compound movements, as well as some isolated exercises that will optimize activation.

Furthermore, just like we did in this workout, you can add dropsets, supersets and time under tension focus to maximize mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage, which are proven muscle growth factors.

Nevertheless, if you are a beginner, it will be enough to utilize basic principles like full range of motion, constant tension and progressive overload.

Now that we gave you the subtleties on how to get a wider back, feel free to apply this knowledge and build a mountain of a back.


Check out more back exercises below!

References   [ + ]