Back Training Fundamentals

Back Training Fundamentals

Building a huge back requires a lot of heavy compound exercises such as barbell rows and dumbbell rows, as well as deadlifts. Your back is your largest upper body muscle group and it takes a different training approach than other upper body muscles to get results. Many beginners neglect their back exercises because it’s a muscle that unless you’re genetically gifted, it can take a while to start seeing the results of your back workouts. I believe back day should consist of more volume than other upper body muscle groups, and your workouts for back need to be intense and focused.

Building a Thick and Wide Back

When I first started lifting weights I paid more attention to chest and arms as many young lifters do. I usually did seated rows and lat pulldowns and that was about the extent of my back workout. I didn’t realize how important back training was to build more overall muscle. The truth is back day should be as brutal as leg day if you’re serious about gaining thick, dense muscle mass. I later learned this and that’s when I really started growing beyond what I thought was possible. Your back is your largest muscle group in your upper body so it makes sense to pay more attention to your back workouts in regards to more volume and training intensity.

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Looking Huge from Every Angle – The Importance of Free Weight Rows

I believe one of the reasons why some recreational weightlifters neglect their back is because it’s not as noticeable as muscle groups such as chest, arms and shoulders. You can go in there and get a good pump for your biceps and triceps and walk out of the gym looking bigger than when you came in. The same goes for chest and shoulders as when you look in the mirror those muscle groups stand out as more visible.

The problem with going soft on your back workouts or not training back at all is that you’re only going to look muscular from one or two angles. If you concentrate on building a solid back you’re going to look huge from every angle simply because you’re going to be huge from every angle. And that’s the main difference you see when someone looks big even with a loose shirt; that person puts a lot of effort into their back workouts.

I mentioned I only did cable exercises such as seated rows and lat pulldowns when I first started lifting. Those are great exercises but they shouldn’t be the foundation of your back workout. For quality muscle you need to implement free weight rows in your regimen. Barbell rows are a tremendous mass builder and you should do them every back workout. You can alternate grips with the standard over hand grip or reverse (underhand) grip. Most all professional bodybuilders swear by barbell rows. Dumbbell rows are also a great mass builder.

Another obvious exercise that will pack on slabs of muscle is deadlifts. If you’re consistent with rows and deadlifts you’ll certainly grow thicker and you may also notice strength increases in your other lifts. I must add here that Hammer Strength has some amazing plate-loaded back machines and using Hammer Strength back exercises will also ensure a massive back.

I usually like to end my back workouts with lat pulldowns or pull-ups (and sometimes I’ll even do a few sets of pull-ups in the beginning of my back workout as a warm up). Both of these exercises really target your lats making you wider. In my opinion more emphasis needs to be put on free weights rows but this doesn’t mean you should shy about from pulldowns or pull-ups as they have their place.

Basic Back Workout

Here’s a basic back workout with exercises you can alternate each week (two types of rows and pulldowns or pull-ups). Again, I recommend a little more volume for back day so I usually do a few more sets for back than any other upper body part.

Deadlifts – 4 sets x 8-12 reps

Barbell Rows – 4 sets x 8-12 reps

Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets x 8-12 reps

Seated Rows – 4 sets x 8-12 reps

Again, this is a very basic back workout; however, it can be extremely effective in building your back muscles if the exercises are are performed correctly. One of the most important things to remember during your back workouts is you need to grasp that mind-muscle connection. You need to feel your muscles working throughout each rep. Don’t just go through the motions or you won’t reach your full potential. But if you focus on feeling the muscle and getting a solid pump during your back workouts, your back will have no choice but to grow.

Train with Passion,

Jason Stallworth

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