T Nation

Potential Imbalance?


I currently work my back on two separate days. One day I do lat work with 9-12 total sets for lats along with 4-6 sets of biceps work, and day 2 later in the week, I do deadlifts, stiff leg deads, bent over rows, seated rows, and shrugs ( 12-15 total sets). The problem is I am only doing about 12 total sets for chest so do you think I am setting myself up for an imbalance? There are more muscle groups in the back so my thinking is that it would require more total sets. Also, I am working very hard to get my pull up numbers up so I like to do them on separate days from deadlifts. One option I have come up with is to alternate back workouts weekly, one week focus on lats, and one week focus on deads and rows. Anyone have any thoughts? Thanks!


I also have been considering splitting back into two separate days. And, like you, I want to focus on my chins, but also start adding deadlifts. So I would be interested to see what some of the more experienced lifters have to say.

A few observations of my own:

1)I'm fairly certain that it is a good idea to work the back with a slightly greater volume than the chest, i.e. more sets

2)In my opinion, you are doing too many different exercises on your second back day. Some of these are redundant, for instance the deadlifts, stiff-legs and shrugs (I think the traps get an awesome workout from deadlifts alone) and I think you would be better served by doing more sets on fewer exercises.

This is the back workout split that I am considering:

Day 1
Deadlift, Goodmornings, chins

Day 4
Squats, chins, seated rows

I added the seated rows because I am not working the shoulders directly any other day and I wanted to hit the posterior delts.

Hope this helps,



If you look on the current lat spread thread, I do mention that I have split my back workout into two separate workouts for some time now. One day is dedicated to vertical pulling, and the other to horizontal pulling.

I don't think you have to be too concerned. Your horizontal pulling should match fairly well with your horizontal pushing (chest). For your vertical pulling, just match that up with your vertical pushing, which is delt work, rather than chest work (with the exception of dips).

If you stick with your breakdown (HP & VP) your back will grow extremely well, trust me.


Thanks for the replies! I did not take into consideration my vertical pushing, the sets seem pretty even when I figure in those movements. I do switch up stiff leg deads with good mornings to make sure my hammies get worked. Now, time to get those pull ups up to par!!



First off, I'd like to respond with a few questions of my own.

What do you hope to achieve with your back training or your training in general?

Could you to tell us exactly what exercises you are doing on your first back training day?

And out of curiosity, do you change this up often or do you tend to stick to the same movements or slight variations on these movements?

9-12 total sets on day one is going to hit your biceps quite hard on its own, so you might not even want to follow up your back work with isolation work on your biceps, but we're all different. Personally, I currently do up to 6 sets of bicep work after 6 sets of lat work on my horizontal back day and that seems to be sufficient. If you hope to improve your pull-up numbers, this is even more important to consider. Adding a third day in to work on those is going to kill your overall back progress, due to a lack of sufficient recovery.

Your chest isn't all that complicated, so working it from every conceivable angle and in every possible way with twenty sets twice a week isn't necessarily required, unless it is a personal weakness. Many people, like Thunder for example, stress balancing horizontal pushing and pulling, but if your program is going to prioritize back for a period of a few months or so, I wouldn't worry about it. If over a longer period you were to do this, then I'd be more concerned about overdeveloping your back relative to your chest and setting yourself up for injury. I applaud you for taking the opposite approach from most lifters!

Taking two days for back is fine, just as Thunder suggests and in fact is what I think most of us here would recommend. You'll never get far doing deads, rows, chins/pull-ups etc etc all on the same day. Perhaps a day for deads and other trap focused work like pulls as well as chins/pull-ups and then a day for rows would work. It's never easy to find a good fit and you'll find you?ll need to tweak things regularily to find what works best for you.

Hope this helps.


CGB, Right now my goals are to increase pull ups and improve lat size. I am only able to do about 3 pull ups at a time, thus I feel I am missing out on overall upper body strength and development from a great exercise. On the first back day I am doing pull ups, chin ups, straight arm dumbbell row, and finish with either the hammer lat row machine or pull downs. My bi's are also lagging right now but that is not a major concern for me, so I do a few sets always last in the first back day. I change the routine up from time to time, but always have pull ups and chins first and any biceps work last in the workout. Mornings are the only time I have to lift, the upside is I am more focused and have more energy for the day, but I think that I sacrifice some strength in the gym for it. Oh and I have at least two days separating the two back days. Thanks for the feed back.


CBG knows what he is talking about.


good posts CGB, thunder.
I think you are falling into the "more is better" and "too many goals, no priorytization" traps.

choose one:
pull up numbers? go with CT's "get you chin up". since you are at 3 it will suit you better then your current regimen.
lat size? go with something else, thunder and CGB made some good points, I would do go heavy on the deadlifts to realy kickstart lat growth.
biceps? they are fast twitch muscles and dont respond good to high volume, although they pump nicely... I would jsut go heavy on the pulling ,otions and watch them grow, maybe only some speed work (not kidding - I did 6 weeks of rebound curling while on staley's program and my biceps strength went through the roof - and with strength will come size...)

good luck


According to HeavyThrower in the Lats thread he said snatch grip high pulls were best for lats, I would beleive that man, his lats are retarded!

I am in the same boat, I have increased over the last 3 weeks my chinup numbers from 0 (maybe one if I blew out my colon trying) to 5 today. To get around not being able to complete a chin I would do the eccentric only (I read about it here, not sure of the article) I would jump above the bar and then try my hardest to take 15+ seconds to drop, its really hard which as anything hard in bodybuilding is good!


P.S. oh, and eat lots :slight_smile: I am way below maintenance right now and not liking it. I could be at 10 chins.


No, snatch grip high pulls are great for traps. His comment on that movement is in a post on his traps.



I am very sorry, hopefully I can keep these occurences from happening frequently.

Thank you Thunder.



Kayrob, from personal experience, I?ll tell you that trying to increase your pull-ups and/or chins while at the same time trying to boost your lat size is a helluva tall order. Take it from Glute. Pullups/chins need your back, biceps, forearms and grip to be fully recovered, unlike with rows where you can often still add poundage and reps even if you?re not 100% recovered from your last workout. Everything needs to come together for the former or else you won?t improve. If increasing your pull-ups is more important to you, I?d dedicate one of your back days to doing them first in your workout (which you?re doing) while at the same time perhaps reducing the overall work you?re dedicating to the rest of your back that day and perhaps the other day as well. Personally, I try to ensure that my pull-up day falls on a weekend when I can get in early in the morning for pull-ups/chins and then go back later in the day and do deads and a few other back movements, but always focusing on the pull-ups/chins as my priority and not overdoing the other back work if the pull-ups are my current focus.

Since you already are doing these first in your workouts, you?re on the right track and your bicep work isn?t taking place until you?ve done everything else, so the only concern I have is whether you are doing too much overall back work to allow for your pull-ups to improve. Recovery is key at this point if they are not. Two days between back workouts might need to be addressed.