T Nation

Back Exercise Weigh-ins

well my back development does not impress me. if i could magically just have one muscle group be brough up to par, made how i want it to look, itd be my back by FAR.

so here’s the deal, i am first and foremost interested in mass. nothing looks more powerful to me than a huge back, its animal-like (huge legs are impressive too). i want my back so freakin big that i cant find shirts that fit! i think what would really help me out is if people could weigh in on some back exercises, namely deadlifts, pullups and/or chinups, barbell rows, and pulldowns. it would be great to see a compare and contrast kind of thing. also it would be helpful to see things such as “well i did this for a long time and didnt see much change, but then i started doing these and my back blew up…” and “this will make your back wide, but not thick…this will make you thick but not wide…this will do both…blah blah blah”.

in addition, traps were definitely neglected for a while, but im working on them.

whatever info is offered is greatly appreciated.

You answered your own question…it’s simple, basic big movements like the ones you cited build a basic big back…not to mention arms, shoulders, forearms and glutes.

Well you are in luck, just look at today’s article for ideas on back thickness/ back width.

Staples in my back routine:

Rack Pulls (or Deadlifts) the former I use more frequently

Bent over Rows, pronated and supinated grip

One-Arm Dumbbell Rows

Lat Pulldowns, use a variety of different grips/bars

I use the kneeling rope pull down CT talked about in todays article frequently

Dumbbell Pullovers

Obviously, I don’t do all in one workout I normally choose 3-4 per workout.

These have all been great for increasing my back size (my best bodypart), but if I had to pick the two most effective for me it would be the Rack Pulls and the One-Arm DB rows

Deadlifts, chins (weighted, curl-grip), cable rows (using a robe or v-bar), and pullovers are what finally started getting my back to grow.

The pullovers are the trickiest – it really requires that you focus on technique and us the lats to power the movement instead of the shoulders. It gets my triceps pretty damned good, too. I prefer to use one dumbbel in each hand for the move.

I can’t tell you whether it’s made my back thick or wide. I’ve only heard from others that my back looks “bigger”, and I can feel the difference. After years of not being able to get the damned thing to grow, it was these exercises that set it off.

As a note: I do pullovers right after squats. The very next exercise on squat day. Gives my legs a break, and really hammers a fresh upper body.

thanks for the fast responses everyone. and yes, i did read CT’s article right after i posted my question, and it looks like there are some helpful tips in there as well. i was actually thinking about posting this question about an hour before i did, but i was away from my desk and by the time i got back i just had post the question. anyway, i suppose another thing that i should add is that i do full body workouts. if i had a “back day” i would probably just do all of the exercises that i mentioned.

perhaps i should switch it up and go back to a split, something along the lines of:

Monday: back, traps, rear delts, bis
Wednesday: Chest, shoulders, tris
Friday: legs

? i could probably do that?

but if i were to continue the full body workouts, how should i construct the back “portion”


I was told by one my buddies one day that I had huge middle and lower back as well as traps. I was really deadlifting at the time. So for me anyways it really helped with thickness I guess you would say.

I’m currently getting my ass kicked by work, and from having a newborn around the house. Time is sacred. So I’m back to doing full-body routines to make sure that everything gets hit at least once a week… more when I can squeeze it in.

I alternate between three workouts.

  1. Military Press, Chin-ups, Front Squat

  2. Deadlift, Reverse Grip Incline Bench Press, Rope or V-bar Row

  3. Squats, Pullovers, Dumbbell Curls

I hit them hard, allow anywhere from 1-5 minutes between sets so I can give it my all, and aim for around a 5 rep range. I also throw ab work in there where I can (like doing L-sits during my chin-ups), and do sundry little things like bouncing on my toes to get blood pumping through my calves when I’m making supper, putting the dogs outside, etc.

So far it’s doing the trick for maintenance. It’s not too hard to throw some quality back work into full-body workouts.

interesting. thanks guys i really appreciate everyones comments/tips and all.

I know that this has been said, but lets say it again.
Deadlifts. You can do just about every other back excercise in the world, and it might build your back. Deadlifts build just about every part of the pullling chain, even if not equally. Deadlifts build up raw power, they make you strong. It teaches your muscles to work together,and it helps to correct postural imbalances. If there is one excercise thatyou have time to do, make it this one.

I used to do pronated barbell rows and weighted chin-ups. I put my routine on here, and someone said I needed more pulling movements. I added wide grip pull ups and underhand barbell rows, should width. Let me tell you, those wide grip pull ups really really really jack my back, I can feel each individual part being used in the pull. I like the underhand barbell rows because I feel a lot of burn in my biceps, so it is like getting a two for one excercise.

The people at work tell me that I have no neck, but I do not train traps. However, if find that most back excercises, especially deadlifts, train the traps. Another great way to train the traps is behind the neck presses, military press and bradford presses.

I like chest-supported rows too, just did em about two hours ago actually. Feel those in my back more than I do barbell rows personally.

An exercise that has not been mentioned is the seated cable row.

It can add mad thickness to your middle back and depending on the grip you use, it can expand your width at the same time.

But at the end of the day, I’ll stick with who brought me to the dance…deadlifts


Actually one of the best exercises I found for building lat width and thickness is 1 arm standing cable rows. Use a low pulley D handle and perform just like dumbell rows. You’ll probably have to stand on a box for extra height and stretch.

[quote]BarneyFife wrote:
Another great way to train the traps is behind the neck presses, military press and bradford presses.[/quote]

Umm, I heard that heavy barbell/dumbell shrugs work too. But who knows?