T Nation

Back Twice a Week


I was thinking about training back twice a week. Mondays I'd do deadlift, deficit deads, front squat. Big compound strength movements. Then on Friday I'd do pulls ups and rows. Lots of rows, t-bar, seated, one arm ect. Is this too much? My main goal is strength and overall back thickness. I want to know the absolute best exercises for my goals but my problem is I am attracted to volume, I also want to do more more more.

I need to force myself to leave the gym, especially on back day because it's my favourite day. Any help and advice would be much appreciated.


I don't know why you consider front squats to be back specific, but alrighty. They can definitely tax your back some, but I never consider them when I'm thinking of a good exercise for my back.

2x a week frequency is not too much, but that's a blanket statement that doesn't apply to everyone. You gave an extremely general outline of what you're doing though. No sets, reps, or even exercises that you're doing.

In short, it could be not enough, just enough, or too much. With the level of detail you've given, it's anyone's best guess.

You want to know the best exercises for your goals? Then tell us your goals. Though you'll be surprised, "best exercise" isn't as clear cut as people think.

You want to know if it's too much? Then give us a breakdown of your actual workout's. i.e. exercises, sets, reps.

Basically saying "hey guys, i like to workout my back with a lot of stuff kinda often. Is that too much?" doesn't lead to great answers.


Staystrong's post is good. You haven't mentioned any details.

Most naturals need bodyparts trained wice per week or once every four to five days.

This is a bit redundant, especially if you are doing the standard three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps most people do.

It likely is. If you're training a muscle twice per week, it's unlikely you need more than two exercises for it.

You might be able to recover from a very high volume, but it doesn't mean it's warranted. You can try lessening the volume and going harder and focusing on making progress in poundages and see if you get better results. If you're one those people for some reason makes great progress on a ton of volume then that's fine too, obviously.

Again, more is not always better, especially for naturals. I'm not saying naturals can't push things with volume and effort, like some in the "hardgainer" camp think, but you don't need exercise upon exercise to make gains. Make progress in the basics, like deadlifts, rows, pullups, and chinups, and then later on add in isolation exercises and perhaps higher reps and more deliberate movements later on if you need to (eg, slowered tempo, partial reps, pauses, or whatever you need for a better mind-muscle connection).


Definitely some good info so far.

In no way, shape, or form would I consider your Monday to be "training back." There are a bunch of ways to skin the cat, but the most basic, least confusing way to train back twice a week is to have pulldown variations/vertical work one day and row variations/horizontal work the other. I also agree with Brick, generally the more frequently you hit a bodypart, the less you need to do in each session. Especially if you're going balls out and actually training hard and smart.

As was said, we simply don't know. We have no clue what sets/reps you're using or what kind of weight you're moving, and we don't know your age/height/weight/experience level.

Vague goals are achieved with vague methods. So, okay, do some rows and deadlifts and stuff.

That should be a start.

Nothing wrong with some volume, as long as it's within the context of a well-designed program.

I suggest acting like an adult who's sticking to a plan designed to reach his specific goals, rather than acting like a kid who just found the Christmas presents hidden in the hall closet on December 20th.


I hit back, while limiting volume every training day. Especially upper back.


For me high volume 2 or 3 times a week works wonders. But that's just me


I do back twice-ish a week

On DL day and Squat day

The squat gets blood flowing to the lower back, shoulders, knees and wrists, which I feel is a good opportunity to get in some additional back work (be it rows or chins), without having to spend much time warming up specifically to train back.


if you want to compress your training time, you could do one day with glutes and hamstrings and second with rear delts.


  1. thickness of upper back

rack pull (bar above the knees)
barbell row with shoulder width grip (parallel to the ground is ideal, 45 deg. is max)

here you could add hamstring and glute training:

rdl, hip thrust, leg curl

(if you choose a deadlif variation on this day, you don't do it on leg day of course. Deadlift should be before row and after rack pull)

  1. width

close grip neutral pull up (lower lat, lats length)
wide but not the widest overhand grip lat pulldown (upper lats, teres major)
wide grip row (teres major)

here you could add great exercise for rear delt, and for back finishing:

I don't now what english name is but you are bending to parallel like with db row, taking dumbbell and rowing with elbows flared - arm is in one line with your collarbones.

as you can see, rear delts take a slight hit with barbell rows on first day too, wich is good.

if you want 2 days strictly for back, then you can do much more back exercises and methods like mds, waves and clusters

Back is so complex muscle group that is better to do more specialized exercises if you want to use max potential.


This is one of the reasons I love 5/3/1 template so much.. your super-setting every push with a pull, so back gets hit twice per week automatically on pressing/upper body days.


These types of discussions always get me wondering. Why is it that some people think of "the back" as a volume equivalent of the chest?
If anything, I am starting to believe that the volume for "the back" should be as much and more than the combined volume of chest and pressing shoulder exercises.


x2. I view the "upper back" and "lower back" as two separate things. The deadlift and the lat pulldown are both "back exercises" but putting them on the same day just because you want a "back day" is a bit silly, IMO.

I do think the upper back responds well to high frequency and have seen good growth in the past from doing high-frequency, moderate-volume work such as 1) doing 4-5 sets of lat pulldowns at the end of every workout or 2) my recently-started approach (results as yet unknown) of doing 40-50 pull-ups a few times per week (stopping at a pullup bar that I ride past on my bike ride to work) in addition to other "regularly scheduled programming" in the gym.


@ jp_dubya
that's right. And especially natural lifter should do more of sophisticated exercises if he wants great deatail and healthy back. Of course the basics go first.


Variety is good too. I just don't think of vertical pulling, I add some vertical pulling with the elbows tracking in the frontal plane, and a neutral grip vertical pull in the sagittal plane. Same with horizontal pulls. Rack pulls, FOR ME, became a better back movement when I backed off the load a bit, and focused on drawing the load into my body.
Frequency is critical. Muscle repair and supercompensation per each session is not infinitely tied to the amount at one session. There is a max. That is why I cringe when I hear people talk of overtraining and hear symptoms.

To me, it is this simple. One set or even one rep that does not yield change. No you won't be able to measure that, but cmon. If you spend 2.5 hours in the gym 6x per week and you are not improving you are not at the gym and have your primary goal as hypertrophy or strength. You are there because you like to be there. There is nothing wrong with that but if you are results oriented....

And on load, that is also too simple of a choice for hypertrophy. If I add 5 lbs to a lift, but move it slower than I did with a previous load, which produces more tension in the target muscle? If you're saying you know for sure, you are guessing.


Lifting with slow concentrics extends the t.u.t. but in in the long-term it kills the strength. I always recommend ramp for heavy exercises and low rep range for exercises like row - the trapezius muscles reacts great on super-fast concentrics with big stretch of scaupula and big weight.
I do not like one sentence you claimed -

2,5 hour in the gym is too long for natural - 45 min is the time when testosterone level starts decreasing and cortisol is overbalancing. Actually you're right in the rest, I don't like only the numbers :slight_smile:


Na I don't buy that. My sessions usually take about 2.5 hours. Sometimes on the weekend I'll go for 4 or 5 hours. 6 days a week. I've still been getting stronger.


WHoa now, naturals can certianly train a lot more than 45 minutes if needed. A lot of my leg workouts go 2 hours (not saying this is the optimal approach) or more.


It's not optimal anyway. And good training can be done in 45 min. - even leg training. The powerlifters train even more than 2,5h but is not optimal for muscle gain. If you're getting bigger then I won't be arguing. Still - if you do tones of exercises it's better to do two or even three shorter workouts a day.


Nothing like a good sweeping generalization that contradicts the personal experience of several trainees.


let us think that I could be right :wink:


I'll make it short and simple.