T Nation

Back Overtraining?


First of all, I'd like to say hello to everyone this being my first post on T-Nation.

I've been training seriously for 6 months now(had some previous unsuccessful tries in my teens, I'm 22 now for the record), started at 67 kg at a height of 1.81m, and reached 74 kg...so 7 kg in half a year, fairly decent in my opinion. Now, the reason I've made this post is to get some feedback on the following back workout:

for lats:
3x pull-ups
3x chin-ups
3x dumbbell rows

middle back:
3x low rows
3x t-bar rows

lower back:
3x deadlifts

3x dumbbell shrugs
3x barbell shrugs

  • bicep exercises(since I do back+biceps on that particular day)

What I'm afraid of is overtraining my back, since I've seen a lot of workouts on various sites, T Nation included, that incorporate 5 maybe 6 exercises total...so, are 3 exercises for the lats in the same day too much? any modification I should make to this workout?I know overtraining is something specific to each person, thing is, I can do the above workout without feeling overly fatigued...my back also is a bit underdeveloped compared to my chest, I have rounded shoulders too, reason for this "large" workout. That's about it, any input is welcomed :slight_smile:


Why would this be overtraining? I've done way more work than this before. Just eat and sleep. Just make sure your back work counts. The disparity between your front and back could likely be due to poor MMC. Work on that.


Well, first I would say that the likely reason for rounded shoulders is mostly not lats but rear delts, low/middle traps, and rhomboids allowing your shoulders to round over instead of being held back in position.

Second I would say that although the workout you posted isn't necessarily overtraining, I think your set-up will compromise your ability to use heavy weights. If you can do this above workout without being tired you are likely not using enough weight. If you intend to use traditional bodybuilding methods, I would split this up into 2 back workouts--more frequency is usually better (within reason and recovery ability) in any case both for mind-muscle connection and for growth stimulus. Push the weight up. Second option is to simply double the workout you wrote above and do it 2x a week if it's really that easy...or to add sets to your workout.

I would split as follows:


for lats:
3x pull-ups
3x chin-ups
4-6x dumbbell rows

middle back:
4-6x low rows


4x t-bar rows

lower back:
4-6x deadlifts

3-4x dumbbell shrugs
3x barbell shrugs --- redundant with dumbbell shrugs --> either delete and add work to db shrugs, or use a different exercise. I prefer a different exercise.

I would put a few high rep sets for rear delts such as band pull-aparts and db rear flyes or low trap raises in each sitting to work on MMC.


"What I'm afraid of is overtraining"

With those six words you have defeated yourself before you have even started.
Try training your ass off for a while. If overtraining becomes an issue, adjust it.


you could do reverse hypers or something for low back, if youre going heavy on deads at the end of a workout you should expect to use lower weight. Id actually try going lighter and doing a decent amount of reps for deads, i got alot of mass out of that. Also hit the rear dealts if you feel your shoulders are to far forward.


Idk.. but I only do 2-4 exercises for my back.. and no direct traps work..


i used to do 30 sets including warmups, per muscle group once a week, i gained alot of size in two months but i also got a pinched nerve in my shoulder, so yeah sometimes less really is more


Over training? hard to tell. Redundant? YES.


deadlifts for lower back???


18 total sets for back is not over training. 6 sets are even a similar pull up/chin up movement.

I don't count my trap work as back work as you can throw it in with shoulders if you want.

I would just try to be in and out of the gym in 45-60 minutes for many reasons.


You've done way more work that 18 sets for back, not counting his sets for traps. why not just do 100 sets for back. That is the definition of overtraining. I did 4 total sets for my back last night. 4 total. Guess you guys never heard of DC Training, huh? While I don't do DC training to the letter, which i admit, but I to suscribe to their philosophy of low sets and higher frequency type training.

Remember, getting bigger is about progressive training. How on earth are you going to get that much stronger on all those exercises. Wouldn't it be better to pick just 2 or 3 basic exercises done on different days, while constantly trying to do more reps and weight. This guy is obviously among the more is better crowd. It will probably take him many years to figure this out, just like it did me. till then, he will continue to do tons of sets, with little to no gains. Not counting the beginning gains you get when you first start.

You should never do more than 1 rowing exercise in the same workout. why, you are working the same muscle. you should do 1 rowing, and 1 for back width, like pullups, pulldowns or whatever.


18 =/= 100
If my math is correct 18 is closer to 4 than 100.

18 sets =/= Overtraining
100 sets = Overtraining (this is true but 18 does not equal 100, see above)

Cool Story

More than one way to skin a cat

(please see cat saying above)



RV is dead on. If you can't progress in weight, there is nothing to show for the amount of work you are doing. Over training may have many, many definitions, but the one that sticks with me is the amount of work over and above that which you can improve upon later.

Yes there are some days that you are just on and some that you are off that may affect your work output, but in the long run, you should be able to progress in weight used, reps with a weight, or the bar velocity.


If at the end of a years time, and your still lifting the same weight, whether its curls, benches, military presses or whatever, you will most likely not have gained any new muscle. Progression is the #1 thing all "experts" agree on. If your not progressing in the exercises your doing, you will not gain any new size.


Plural of anecdote is not evidence. Not to mention you are likely at a very different stage of your training career than OP and need an entirely different stimulus.

If I played your game I could sit here and talk about the back thickness I threw on at the end of 2011 by training by back 4x week. I split it up so that 2 days I was hitting rhomboids, traps, and rear delts for 9 sets between pressing exercises and 2 days dedicated to lats for 14 sets. So that's 46 total sets/week. Guess what? My back grew and I got stronger across the board. The back can handle ALOT.

Does that mean this would work for OP? I have no idea.

Does that mean it would even work for me forever? Probably not.

Do I think I would have made as much progress at lower frequency/volume? Not at this particular time in my training career.

Will there be a point that I need to use lower volume approach? Maybe, when I've advanced to your size/training age.


How do you know the two were related?


the fact that the mri showed my shoulder had literally grown unproportionally, and to fast. The doctor specifically told me "youre doing to much" Also it was those two months that i did that kind of training, and thats the injury it led to.

It grew unevenly from previous injuries, but what im driving at is that i stressed the shoulder so much it got fucked up.


Out of any muscle group i'd say that the back(rhomboids/rear delts in particular) can probably the most work out of any muscle group.

I currently work my back everyday with one exercise ramped up to one rest paused set. The result: My Face pull (mike wolfe style) went from 175 to 250 in 3 months.


The shoulders are delicate. They're a bit of a conundrum in that you really have to blast them to get good growth, but you also really need to baby them to prevent injury.

Do you do much prehab work? Like band pull aparts, dislocations, or no-moneys?