Our back muscles take up to 30% of total muscle mass and your entire body. It’s the second source of power and mass just after leg muscles. So it would be foolish to ignore back training.
It’s also an incredibly complex structure. Besides obvious muscle groups like lats (latissimus dorsi), spinal erectors and traps (trapezius) back has a whole load of smaller muscles like supraspinatus, longissimus dorsi, infraspinatus, rhomboids major and minor, spinalis dorsi… And that’s not even near the full list. But we are not that interested in such details. What is interesting, is that back is constructed of 5 muscle layers, all connected to each other. And to get truly massive, wide and thick back, you must hit your back with variety of exercises.
That’s why even some professional bodybuilders struggle to get all that in balance. Quite common is to see a wide back, but without thickness, and sometimes it’s just a bulky back without essential width.
Another important factor – weak lower back will hinder your progress. You will not be able to squat as much as possible for you, row as much as you could or even do a powerful standing military presses. Advanced lower back development is necessary for intense training.
Essential back exercises are:
- Wide grip chin ups (both versions – to the front and to the neck)
- Triangle bar (V-bar) chin ups
- Bent-over barbell rows
- Lat pulldowns behind the neck
- T-bar rowing
- Seated cable rowing
- Pullovers with dumbbell (cross-bench)
Do wide grip chin ups first, when you are still vigorous. The width of the grip depends on your height (the taller you are, the wider the grip), and it must be much wider than your shoulder-grip. Usually on 20 cm from each side, but you can experiment with it.
When you will become strong enough to do 8-10 clean repetitions of wide grip chin ups, use a weightlifting belt and attach some weights, you can start with 10kg plate. At the beginning aim at 30 chin ups and don’t count your sets. If it took 10 sets to do 30 chin ups – it’s fine, you will get stronger soon.
Add weights to any V-bar chin ups as well, when you can. These are much easier than wide grip chin ups.
When you do bent-over rows, make sure you keep your lower back straight, that’s why it’s best to do this exercise in front of the mirror (just turn sideways, so you can see how your back looks).
Cable pulldowns are fairly simple. Just make sure you pull with your lats and not your shoulders, and you do not jerk the movement.
T-bar rows require same posture as in bent-over rows, but you also must fix the barbell’s end, so check twice if it’s stable. It’s a good idea to put it in the metal corner of machine/squat rack.
Seated cable rowing is pretty straightforward. Just arch your back and keep it fixed when you row it towards yourself.
Pullover must be done with dumbbell for better stretch and you should be lying across the bench, not on it. Like that – http://www.repsmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/DumbbellPullover.jpg
In deadlift, your form and technique is extremely important. Make sure you’ve learned the correct technique before going heavy on these. If you can’t hold your lower back straight – you are doing it wrong.
And here are the exercise routines:
Train hard and you will be on your way to a thick, V-tapered back!