T Nation

I want to make my back bigger/wider..

I know most of you saw my picture. I’m the guy with no lats. Patricia suggested I do dead lifts. How does this improve my lats. I figure maybe dips or wide grip pullups. Right now I’m only doing bench, squat, clean, and dead lift. I want to add as little supplementary workouts as possible right now since i am focusing solely brute strength right now, however my back is just too damn small (lat-wise)

dips won’t help your lats. do pullups. it doesn’t matter what kind. just do em. you’ll be kicking yourself in the ass later if you don’t.

How do deadlifts improve your back. Think of it this way. if you were to have a weight suddenly thrust in your hands and your grip didn’t fail, your arms should and scapula would be ripped off off your body. What do you do to prevent this? contract all the muscles that appose this motion. The deadlift isn’t called the king of all exercises for nothing. With ever increasing loads, you can’t help but thicken up the upper back, lower back, biceps, forearms…et al. Try them. You won’t freakin’ believe it.

Wide-Grip Pullups
Barbell (or Dumbell) Rows

I’ll tell you what I did. Firstly, I don’t believe you can make everything grow at once, particularly after your first year or two of training. Everything seems to grow in spurts, and those that try to give each bodypart equal priority generally fail to make significant gains. Look around your gym. How many people look the same, if not worse, year in and year out. I think you’ve got to pick a body part and specialize on it. Decrease the volume of your other muscle groups, or a particularly well developed muscle group, and throw that volume onto the weak one.

I had a similar problem where my back was a weak bodypart. So, I started training it twice a week a la Ian King. One back workout was a vertical pulling (lat dominant workout) and the other was a horizontal pulling (mid-back dominant workout). I did that for pretty much a whole year and my back develop really took off that year.

Lots of chinning and pullovers on the vertical pulling day, and lots of rowing and deadlifting/rack pulls on the horizontal pulling day.

Give it a shot.

various grip pull ups with a slow(er) eccentric. for example, medium grip pronated pull ups at a 40x1 (4 count down, 0 count at bottom, explosive pull, 1 count at top). if you want to make your back bigger and wider, but keep gaining strength, i’d go for 5-8 reps with about 2 minutes rest between sets. for grip, try wide and medium pronated, reverse grip, and my favorite, parallel grip. i’d go between a 3-5 second eccentric as well.

No matter what you’re doing for the lats it really won’t work until you learn to use your lats correctly in the movements otherwise the biceps will tend to take most of the stress. I prefer a thumbless grip for most lat movements as it helps take the biceps out…think of your arms only as hooks and concentrate on bringing your elbows down and back. Cocentrate on a full stretch in your lats with each rep and it also helps to mimick a movement with one arm with the other arm placed on your opposite lat so you can feel the precise movement that brings the muscle into play the most.

There are two excellent routines on this website. First one being by Chris T. on getting that bigger, wider back. The second, in the FAQ, by Charles Poliquin. He has a killer pullup routine. I’ve done it and it easily widen my back but beware its a killer. Both routines are.

I just want to make sure were on the same page here. Maybe I explained it wrong. Again, in case you haven’t seen my picture (if you havent, please go look at it now). What do I need to fix and how do I fix it? I’m not exactly sure if it’s just my lats.

Check that article out from Christian T… That should help you out a little…

Sounds like they’re answering your question pretty well to me, Kurt.

Great point about learning to use your lats properly during the exercises, Kelly. It’s something you have to focus on and doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

One point of interest. When asked about the usefulness of machines, after Awnold stopped laughing, he did admit that he had found quite a bit of usefulness from the Nautilus Pullover Machine for improving his back.

Wide grip pull ups most definately. I agree with the other suggestions but wide grips will produce more width than anything else. You might want to add in wide grip rows on a horizontal day. They will also add width and thickness. Believe me, you do not want to be wide and not thick as well. Don’t set yourself up for another imbalance. If you can’t pull up doing a wide grip do some close grip pull downs until your lats are strong enough. Close grips will strengthen your lower lats and your biceps enough that you will be able to handle the wide grip more easily.

Concerning learning to use the back over the biceps on movements such as chins, what about scapular rolls? At the risk of getting blasted, I got this from a M&F article a looooong time ago. It talked about starting the chinning movement by pulling the bar down as far as you could all while keeping your arms totally straight (obviously not a very far ROM). This was supposed to help you learn to get the proper feel for beginning your chins. Any thoughts?

How about me? In my situation, all i ahve are beams in my garage. are those jsut as good as chinnign bars?

Chins supersetted with stiff arm pulldowns has always done the trick for me whn after width.

Another option is deadlifts where you grip the plates. Use olympic plates with the lips turned outwards.( a favourite of Steve Reeves)

Here is polquin’s workout he has on Tmag:

The Modified Gymnast’s Back Routine

In a nutshell, you’ll be doing one long set of both pull-ups and chin-ups using a variety of hand positions. You’ll use the old “rest/pause” method between positions. After a warm-up and some stretching, do the following in order:

  1. Wide-grip pull-up, AMRAP (as many reps as possible)

  2. Rest for ten seconds

  3. Medium-grip pull-up, AMRAP

  4. Rest for ten seconds

  5. Medium-grip chin-up, AMRAP (Notice your palms are now facing you.)

  6. Rest for ten seconds

  7. Narrow-grip chin-up, AMRAP

  8. Rest ten seconds

  9. Parallel grip chin-up (see below), AMRAP

  10. Rest for three minutes

  11. Drag your sorry butt off the floor and repeat the whole thing twice. (Rest about two minutes inbetween sets).

Personally i think using your own body weight on the chin-up bar adding extra weight if you can is the go…

Last year the gym I went to closed for about 3 months for remodeling. I live in the boonies, and none of the other gyms available were particularly convenient to my location. So I spent the 3 months doing nothing but pushups and close-grip pullups in my garage. I did 70-100 pullups every 3rd day. Sometimes I would do ladders (1-2-3, etc, up to 10 and back, for a total of 100), sometimes I would do sets of fixed reps, sometimes I would start with high reps and count down.

At the end of the 3 months I had added noticeable width, but not much thickness, to my back.

As for deadlifts, if you have a strong back you might not notice them working the lats until you raise the weight and start doing sets of 3 reps or less.

Am I drunk again?? I don’t see any pics of this guy?

I also agree that the nautilus pullover machine can be a valuable piece of equipment in a back-building arsenal. Also Monty-Richie I agree with your idea on the scapular rolls in fact Fred Hatfield used to teach those in his workshops. Whenever I teach someone how to work the back I always have them start out with that exercise on pullups and/or pulldowns and even seated rows to get used to feeling the lats work and the proper way to initiate the movement. It also can be used as a supra-maximal way to overload the lats doing partial reps with a heavier than 1rm load on pullups or pulldowns.