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How to Add Mass to Back?

Hello all,
Just curious what kind of rep ranges and exercises you would attribute to helping grow your back? I find that I have a fairly narrow structure and I’ve been putting focus on my back as of late to help bring it up. I know I can’t change my lat insertions, but I’d like a thicker back and I’m wondering if I should increase rows and deadlifts within my PPL split?


You have great delts and biceps. I would say you need to take those out of your back training, maybe by using straps. Also try pullovers if you haven’t already.

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I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a physique guy, so bear that in mind.

I’m unsure whether deadlifts will add thickness to your back, but if you do deadlift I suspect snatch grip rack pulls may be productive. Nothing like lots of barbell and dumbbells rows as well.

My back (and again, I don’t have a physique as impressively detailed as yours by a long stretch) has grown best when I train it three to four days a week.

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In my experience, deadlifts are a mediocre back builder. I’d focus on weighted pull-ups and heavy rows to grow the back. But don’t mistake heavy work for high quality work – I spent over a year spinning my wheels because I was yanking heavy weights and thus sacrificing quality mechanical tension in the pursuit of higher numbers.

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What are you doing for your back right now?

Maybe more is better, or maybe some slight adjustments could work too. I agree with hdx about trying long, sweeping, elbow focused motions (like pullovers, one arm dumbbell rows to the hip, 1 arm barbell rows) for the lats. Trying to take tension off biceps and teres and focus on lats and “lower” lats, if you believe in those.

That said, your looking good right now.

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What worked best for my back was supersetting back exercises with pushing exercises. I have been following 531 and then Juggernaut and most recently 531 Spinal Tap for several years. On bench day I superset with different row variations for both the main lift (flat bench) and any accessory moves I do that day (incline, pec deck, whatever). On overhead press day, I superset with weighted pullups in the same manner. For rows I do sets of 8-10 (same number of sets total as the pushing lift), for the weighted pullups I follow the same loading pattern as overhead pressing (whether I am using Juggernaut or 531 spinal tap - these are percentage based off of a training max, which is 90% of a 1RM, either tested or predicted). Follow whatever loading pattern you are using - I am more strength focused, with aesthetics as a follow-on, and these are power lifting programs.

I read somewhere years ago that rows build thickness while pullups build width. Can’t say I know that to be 100% true, but since I’ve been lifting this way I’ve seen improvements in both, at least as far as my insertions allow.

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I would say weighted chins. After a warm up do a drop set of as many reps at 50 lbs, 40 lbs, 30 lbs, and 20 lbs. Neutral, narrow grip gives the fullest range of motion in my opinion (and protects your shoulders). Also add seated rows. Focus on your scapular retraction on these, getting a full contraction with each rep.

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Personally in regards to thickness, this Zig-Zag (Paul Carter technique, do a T-Nation search)

A1 Wide grip (hands at knurling at least) 35 degree bench chest supported rows (8-12 reps) - 2 second squeeze at contracted position
3 mins rest
Trap bar carries 30-40 meters (obviously deadlift up to begin)
3 mins rest

Repeat 3 times

Same set up with Grondola chins and cable face-pulls/cable rear delts

I’d also add a back width session 3-4 days later

Eat, rest repeat



Your lats insertion is not that high so it is good. I’d just try to beef up those lats by increasing mind muscle connection. My traps are dominant naturally and some lat activation work does help before back workout and always try to connect with the lats by bringing the elbows in and using your hands solely as “hook”,as far as exercise nothing changes but this greatly improved my weak lats

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I would do more rows with free weights. When it comes to deadlifts to build the back I think snatched grip deadlifts are the way to go. Also Pull ups and chin ups.

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I think I agree with this. I have very good back development IMO, and I attribute a lot of it to heavy, frequent deadlifts over years of training. But I have to say, I don’t think this was the most efficient way to build a big back. It just worked for me because I pushed them so hard.

I think rows are probably the best bet of back exercises to really build muscle for a bodybuilder. Not speaking from personal experience, more from observation of a lot of successful bodybuilders.

One thing I can add to this thread that I don’t expect anyone else to is the value of heavy carries. Carrying heavy stones, sandbags, farmers handles, etc, along with stone loading, will build a back well. Plenty of Strongmen competitors have shitty chests, quads, etc, but you’ll NEVER see a good strongman who has a shitty back. When I started incorporating these movements into my training just once a week, it made a huge difference.


Back built by strongman


Please tell me those are jean shorts.

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Purple Jean shorts.


Get your body fat into the 30s and your back should thicken up nicely

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try kroc rows

broadly speaking tho looking in great shape at least from that one pic, so keep doing what you’re doing!

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I enjoyed weighted chin ups, rack pulls, high rep rows and face pulls. I do some sort of pull movement 3 times a week.

Eating a lot of food also helped.

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Yeah, that’s a mean back. I’ve also realized having to put on some weight to build some muscle would be a good idea. Thank you for the advice on including carries. Trap Bar carries always feel good.

I appreciate it, I’ve just switched to implementing 3-6 row movements per week. Some heavy, some lighter, so we’ll see how it goes!