Looking for a back workout to put on thickness in a hurry? Well, you’ve found the right place. But first we have to look at the why’s and how’s of building those lagging back muscles.
What’s the big deal about back development?
Why do we want to bother with those hard back exercises? I mean the chest and arms are the “show” muscles anyway, right?…the most bang for the buck. Well, let’s look at that concept.
I’m sure you see lots of guys that think that way. Their back workouts are an afterthought. Sure they have big chests and arms. But they are a dime a dozen. They look pretty good until they turn sideways. Then they just look OK, maybe even weak!
What happened? Something’s missing. They seem to lose that wow factor fast. Why? Well, they just don’t have that “I could pull a tree stump out of the ground” look. The look of real power.
The guys you see that really leave an impression are the ones that have that distinctly thick look which only comes with a well built back. Those slabs of muscle that can be seen through any shirt or sweater. No amount of chest or arm size can make up for a lagging back.
In fact, huge arms and chests paired with a weak back just look plain silly. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Don’t let that be you…and if it is, do something about it now!
What to do first
The first thing to do is figure out what makes up a complete back routine. You want back strength and thickness from your tail bone all the way up to your neck and from shoulder to shoulder. You can’t just tack on a few sets of pulldowns to your workout and expect to get anywhere near that.
You can’t just think of your back as “lats”. You have to think of three main areas. The spinal erectors of the low back, the latissimus dorsi, and the trapezius of the upper back. There are, of course, other small muscles within the back but those will be worked when we focus on the “big 3”.
Now that we know there’s more to a back workout than a few rows or a pulldown let’s look at the exercises.
Exercises for Complete Back Development
Low Back (spinal erectors)
- Dead Lifts
- Rack Dead Lifts
- Hyper Extensions
- Nautilus Back Machine or Equivelant
Mid Back (Latissimus Dorsi)
- Pull downs with various grips
- Low Pulley Rows
- One Arm Rows
- T-Bar Rows
- Barbell Rows
- Pullover Machines
- Upright rows
A Plan of Attack
Now that we know what exercises are in our war chest we need to develop a logical plan of attack. We just can do all of these exercises. That would lead to overtraining.
You might remember the old Weider terms “bombing” and “blitzing” of muscle groups. Well consider what we’re trying to do a “Smart Bomb” approach. We want to get in, do what’s needed efficiently, and get out.
Rest will be vitally important here. The back is a large muscle group and will exhaust your system quickly. It will also take time to recovery completely before you can hit it again.
Keeping in mind the need for intense growth stimulation along with plenty of rest for growth to occur here’s the basics of our plan…
- Heavy Weights
- Low Overall Volume
- Minimal Overlapping
- Rotating Exercise Selection
We take all these factors into consideration when developing our smart bomb approach
The Back Attack Workout
Do these workouts in the order shown starting at 4 days apart. Some people will get away with 3 other will need 5 days rest.
Use this program for 2 months at a time as a mass building phase. Then back off the intensity for a while. Use this 2-3 times per year to build up thickness.
Back Workout A
- Hyperextensions(warm up)
- Weighted Chins or Heavy Barbell Rows
Back Workout B
- Medium Wide, behind the neck Pulldowns (palms facing each other)
- Upright Rows
- Low Pulley Rows
Back Workout C
- Hyper Extensions (warm up)
- Weighted Hyper Extensions or Nautilus Back Machine
- One Arm Rows
- Negative only Chins
- Barbell Shrugs
Warm up and do one all out set to positive failure. Don’t do negatives, forced reps, or second and thirds sets.
Use a higher than normal rep range. 9-15 is a good guide. When using one work set you want more time under tension and the higher reps assure more safety.
Use slow even reps. Try to hold and contract in the contracted positions.
Pick a weight that is heavy but allows good form in all reps. Even on your final rep, try as hard as possible to complete that last rep in good form. You only prolong the pain when you cheat, bend, or use momentum to finish more reps.
Come close to failure in deadlifts but only do the last rep you feel you can complete without arching the back. Strive to do more reps every workout. If you do that your set is good.
Every 3rd or 4th deadlift workout use rack deadlifts doing only the top 2/3d’s of the exercise.
Avoid Squats on leg days while using this back program. They overlap too much with deadlifts and you’ll reduce the benefits of both exercises.
Back Workout A is intentionally low in volume. When properly done, deadlifts will be extremely exhausting and growth stimulating. You won’t need to do much else for the back that day.
Remember, it’s the smart bomb approach. Adding too many back exercises after deadlifts is a recipe for over training. This goes for the majority of natural trainers out there. Hit it hard…go rest…and grow!