Few things will command respect in the gym like a seriously well-built back. It’s powerful. It’s strong. It makes your entire body look that much more built. But is your back workout up to par? Sadly, from what I’ve seen, what most guys are doing in the gym is severely lacking.
Fortunately getting your back workout up to speed isn’t as hard as it may seem. It all comes down to exercise selection and how you go about each workout session. Here’s one of the most crucial pieces of advice I want you to remember when it comes to back training: the connection is what matters most.
Now, I’m not saying heavy lifting isn’t important. The back is a huge muscle and you can’t build strength or size without some heavy lifts in there. But you can’t just hit the gym, pull as much weight with everything you’ve got and walk out. You need precision. You need to mentally connect the muscles to the weight being moved as well.
That is what will build you a back worthy of stares. That is what will build you a back you’re proud of. This workout is going to focus on growing every single section of your back, especially your lats because that is what will deliver you the V-taper physique that creates the frame so many of you are going for.
Let me share with you my top exercises to include in your back workout routine so you can start seeing the changes taking place.
The Best Back Workout
Barbell Deadlift Progressive Eccentric
Few exercises will hit the back like a deadlift will so this is one you’ll definitely want to focus on. The deadlift is a compound exercise, so do it near the start of your workout and focus on going heavy here. You’ll be utilizing a wide number of muscles – your traps, your lats, your rhomboids, your erector muscles, as well as your glutes and hamstrings to some degree as well, so consider this a massive strength builder.
Note that you should not attempt to max out on this lift unless you’ve got good form. Form is a must to not only prevent injury but ensure you are working the right muscles.
You’ll want to complete 3 sets of 2-4 reps per set on this exercise. That may seem a little low but remember, when you load those plates on the bar, 4 reps will have your body screaming.
Higher Rep Barbell Deadlift With Pull-Up Superset (finisher)
If you’re looking to get as shredded as possible, you might also consider adding one set of higher rep deadlifts, still using a relatively heavy weight and go to failure. This will get your heart rate up and maximize your calorie burn. After that, hop on the pull-up bar and attempt some pull-ups if you really want to push the limit.
By this point your back will feel brutally tired so be aware, it’s easy to let your form slip. Don’t let it. Push yourself until the end and you’ll reap the rewards.
Cable Lat Pull-In’s
If back width is an issue for you and you just can’t seem to grow wider, my recommendation is some T30 sets for this cable machine exercise. I started these and it’s been a game-changer.
This exercise is one that really emphasizes your lat muscles and will also allow for a great degree of mind-muscle connection, so you’ll achieve massive pumps when this is done right.
Position yourself between two high cables, kneel down, and then holding two handle attachments, focus on bringing the elbows into the sides of the body.
This is a move where you aren’t looking to max out on the weight lifted. Go light and focus on the mind-muscle connection. Do your 30-second set and then keep rest periods short and snappy, to no more than 45 seconds between sets.
Underhand Lat Pull-Down (Anabolic Drop Sets)
The underhand lat pull-down is a great variation of a lat pull-down for two reasons.
First, the underhand position helps ensure that you get more activation on the lats versus the arms and second, the closer grip position helps to really hit the lats and mid-back while allowing you to get a full stretch at the top of the movement to maximize your growth potential.
For this one, you’ll want to aim for 8-10 reps on the first set and then drop the weight down by about 30%. Do another 8-10 reps, or until you just can’t go any more on the drop set.
Pull-overs are the next exercise in your arsenal to increase your back width. For this movement, I like again employing the T30 principle, executing my reps for 30 seconds straight and then keeping my rest period to no more than 45 seconds max. Aim for three sets total for this movement.
Again here, because this is not a multi-joint exercise but more of an isolation move, the mind-muscle connection is key. You aren’t focusing on going as heavy as possible, you’re focusing on making sure you can squeeze those lat muscles (and nothing else!) as hard as possible for each and every rep that you complete.
Dumbbell One Arm Row
The dumbbell one-arm row is a great strength builder for the back and will garner you faster results for two reasons.
First, it works each side separately. While the total body, both side movements such as the deadlift are key for building an impressive physique, having some exercises that target each side on its own is great for ensuring you aren’t dealing with any muscular imbalances and for putting each side to the test. They’ll also work your core to a larger degree since you’ll need to stabilize more, so help bring a bit of ab work into the routine as well.
The dumbbell one-arm row is great for not only hitting the lat muscles but will also work the biceps and deltoids to some degree as well. As this one is a multi-joint compound exercise, you’ll want to go hard and heavy here. Focus on keeping the reps controlled, especially on the eccentric, and feel those muscles working.
On this exercise, I recommend two sets, doing 8-10 reps for each arm.
What’s the number one injury as you get older? If you said lower back pain, you would be correct. How many older guys do you see in the gym complaining of low back pain and being limited in their abilities because of this? Too many.
Don’t become a number. Many guys currently are walking around with weak lower backs and when you’re loading up plates on the bar for squats and barbell presses, this is eventually going to come back to haunt you.
The barbell hyperextension is a perfect way to strengthen your lower back and serves as a great finisher to this back workout. This move is going to hit three muscles very nicely – the lower back, the glutes, and the hamstrings.
Simply place a barbell on the floor in front of the hypertension machine, lean forward and grab it and then lift up as high as you can, keeping tension in the back at all times.
Note that on the way down, you want to lower in slow and controlled motion and avoid taking the weight all the way down to the floor. By coming just low enough that you nearly take the tension off the lower back muscles but not quite, you keep that constant tension on the muscles, which will really help to boost the strength gains you experience.
This exercise should be done for two sets of 12-15 reps per set. If you can build a back workout using these exercises, rotating them over time but ensuring all are in place, I guarantee you will start noticing superior progress to your physique.
Building an appreciable back all comes down to dedication, consistency, and having a blend of exercises that targets the back from all angles and using both heavier and lighter weight sets. Variety is what keeps your body responding and getting better so don’t ever find yourself caught up in a stale old gym routine.
The Pulling Workout You Need Do To
Next, we are going to dive into the 7 pulling exercises you’re probably not doing as part of your back workout routine right now. This back workout will nail the upper, middle, and lower portion of your back through an intense array of movements. The best thing about it? It applies some of the core mechanisms of muscle growth like mechanical over and metabolic stress.
This workout will isolate the latissmus dorsi, trapezeus, erector spinae, rhomboids, and all the surrounding muscle groups. It’s important that you understand the anatomy before getting into this back workout routine so you can see the variety of back muscles in our body. Check out this back anatomy picture below. These 7 pulling exercises will hit all of these muscles!
Anatomy Of Back Muscles
Mechanical Overload DB 1 Arm Row (With Partial Reps)
You can see this incredible exercise in the back workout routine video we posted on our Youtube channel, as well as all the others.
Start off with a weight that is fairly heavy for you on the DB 1 arm row. Do 6 full repetitions, and then finish with 6 partial reps only going halfway up. You are strongest on the bottom half of the movement so adding heavy partial reps after you hit failure maximizes time under tension.
Low Barbell Row With A STICK And Hold
This is very much like a traditional barbell row exercise, except you will be STICKING and holding each rep for 3 seconds at the top of the concentric portion of the rep.
Make sure to pick a weight that is lighter than you normally would do on this exercise, and focus on the contraction. Another tip is to think about squeezing into your belly button so you hit a low row.
Think about pulling with your elbows and NOT your hands as well.
Overhand to Underhand Lat Pulldown Superset
This is a great way to add more intensity to your back workout and nail the time under tension principle, which is also called metabolic stress.
Start off on a lat pulldown machine and do a weight that is fairly heavy for 8-10 reps with a wide grip. Then switch to an underhand grip and do another 4-8 reps until failure!
As you can see in the back video tutorial – you are actually way stronger with an underhand grip so you can use the same weight.
Watch this epic back exercise below along with the rest of these!
Max Contracted DB Farmers Walks
This one is a good old fashioned muscle builder that will sculpt every muscle in your upper back and traps! Walk with a heavy pair of dumbbells around your gym while squeezing and contracting the upper traps and rhomboids. This dumbbell exercise will help you develop thick traps and muscular rhomboids.
Make sure to hit at least 30 seconds time under tension for maximum results.
Standing T-Bar Row Triple Drop Set
The triple drop set is a bodybuilding favorite for adding thickness and mass to any muscle. The T-Bar Row is great at activating the lats for getting a wider and thicker back.
Start with a weight that you can do about 6-8 times, and then perform 2 dropsets. Each drop should lower the weight by about 20-30%. Aim to stick in the 8 rep range on all portions of the drop-set, for a grand total of 24 reps.
Slow Motion Pull-Ups
This is exactly like it sounds. You will be doing slow-motion pull-ups to maximize time under tension and muscular contractions with the best exercise for adding thickness!
Try squeezing your rhomboids together throughout each rep and go for a count of 3 seconds on the way down and on the way up.
Once again, check the Youtube video for a full breakdown of the back workout routine.
Pre Fatigued Lats (Seated Row)
This is one of the best back exercises for stubborn lats. You will start off pre fatiguing your latissmus dorsi with a shaper movement. Then you are going to immediately go into a seated row while squeezing and activating your lats throughout the duration of the movement.
Pick a fairly heavy weight on the seated row movement! This is one of the best exercises for a wider back workout routines so go hard or go home!
Bonus Video: 5 Things You Need To Give Up To Get Ripped
Make sure to check out the SuperHuman You workouts directory for more awesome workouts!
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I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
I created SuperHuman You to give you access to the most cutting edge information so you can reach your body goals as fast as humanly possible.
I’ve been obsessed with training since 2005 when I attended IMG Academy and got to train alongside NBA, NFL and Olympic Gold Medal winning athletes.
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