T Nation

Back Training with Lift-Specific Program Setup?

If you were going to design a 4 day lift specific setup (Bench, Squat, Press, Deadlift) for the goal of strength and size…

how would you design that to hit back twice a week?

Back is the only body part I can’t find where to put other than on deadlift day without messing up the other workouts.

Thank you

I’m running this setup right now: https://www.t-nation.com/training/complete-power-look-program

On bench and push press days, I superset the two assistant lifts with a pull. Usually one that hits upper back (face pulls, elbows-out rows, etc.) and one more lat targeted (pullups, rows, etc.). In addition, I make sure one of my assistant lifts to deadlift is a pull typically targeting the traps like a kirk shrug, or snatch high pull from hang.

Because the goal is the 4 main lifts and the specific work for them is pretty intensive, I’m not taking any of the sets for back to failure or anything and usually sticking to the 8-15 rep range. I’m really focused on effective muscle activation and just getting the work in. This approach has not negatively affected my performance on pressing movements at all. If anything, it helps, as I feel more stable and mentally amped up from a faster paced workout.

If back is really a weak point, consider adding a 5th accessory workout focused on back and bis. I haven’t felt that was needed though honestly.

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I would put “back thickness” exercises on deadlift day (horizontal row, rhomboids, traps) and “back width” exercises on bench day (lats and teres). I would also have rear delts work on both days.

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Bench 3x5 with 1 rep at 90% 2 min before set
Close grip floor press 3x6-8
Dips or incline 2x6-8
Chin ups 3x6-8

Squats 3x5 with 1 rep at 90% 2 min before set
Reverse Lunge 3x6 each leg
Rdl 3x6-8
Curls 3x6-8

Push press 3x5 with 1 rep at 90% 2 min before set
Press 3x6-8
Raises 2x10
Triceps ext 3x6-8

Deadlift 3x5 with 1 rep at 90% 2 min before set
Pendlay row 3x6-8
Face pull 3x10
Shrugs or upright row 3x6-8

Would you majorly change anything here? Order or setup?


On back exercises, for both horizontal work and vertical work, these can be done with elbows flared or tight. How would you pair these or arrange these for full back work?

@Christian_Thibaudeau How does this compare to your Cluster Program where you have more of an upper lower split?

Focusing more on quad / hamstring assistance on squat and deadlift days and back assistance on bench and overhead press days?

Are there pros and cons to either of these?