Building a bigger back is so important in bodybuilding competitions these days. It is why bodybuilders like Dorian Yates, Lee Haney and Ronnie Coleman were so dominate during their hey days on the Olympia stage-they were great everywhere, but when they turned around to the back (as Ronnie would say) it was lights out, game over baby!
As I have said before, a well-developed back will give you a thicker look from the side and back while the extra width will accentuate the x-frame look from both the front and back. My current back workout is based on increasing both back thickness and width. Below is how I attack my back!
Back workout A (taken from training diary completed 31 March 2011: Body weight= 71 kg)
- Deadlifts 60 kg x 5, 100 kg x 5, 140 kg x 5, 170 kg x 5
- Weighted Chin ups 16 kg for 10, 6, 4 (rest pause)* + bodyweight for 4 reps (NA)**
- Inverted rows Bodyweight for 10, 10, 9, 8 (4×10)***
In the past I have done partial deadlifts, however, deadlifting from the floor has thickened my back up a lot faster. Pulling my lats out during the concentric part of the deadlift allows me to get a far better pump in my lats too.
Chins have always been a mainstay in my workouts. At present I perform them with either a wide or palms facing narrow grip.
Inverted rows have become a favourite exercise as it hits my upper back muscles better than any other exercise I have tried over the years. (I set the smith machine up so my body is on a small incline with my feet either on the ground or on top of a bench. I then try and pull up so my chest hits the bar). You can increase the weight by wearing a weighted vest or putting a plate on your lower chest.
* (Rest pause) is using the same weight for all sets with 20-30 seconds rest in between each set. When I reach 20 reps in total I add weight the next workout.
** (NA) or negative accentuated training is taking 1 second to complete the concentric part of the movement and 6 seconds to complete the eccentric (negative) part of the movement. When I can complete 7 reps (which is 49 seconds of continuous tension) I add weight.
*** (4 x10) is picking a weight I can get 15-20 reps normally and complete 4 sets of 10 reps with 30 seconds rest in between each set. When all 4 sets are 10 reps I add weight.
Back workout B (7 April: BW= 71.2kg)
- Machine Row (Hammer grip) 150 pd x 10, 195 pd x 10, 210 pd x 9, 225 pd 7
- Machine Row (Wide grip) 150 pd x 10, 165 pd x 9, 180 pd 6
- Chins (bodyweight) 25 (PB!), 9, 6, 4 (rest pause)
This workout allows me to hit my back muscles hard without stressing my nervous system too much. I can easily over train with deadlifts if I try and perform them every back workout. I will sometimes alternate Dumbbell rows for the Hammer grip machine row and Barbell rows for Wide grip machine row when I think I need a change.
Back workout C (15th April: BW= 71.6 kg)
- Deadlift 60 kg x 10, 100 kg x 10, 140 kg x 15
- Inverted Row BW for 10, 10, 10, 10 (4 x10)
- Chins BW for 10, 10, 5, 4. (4 x 10)
This workout is pretty much the same as workout A, but I mix it up with different rep ranges so the body has to continuously adapt to the new stress.
Although these workouts are very simple they are effective in meeting my goals of more back thickness and width. So if you have neglected your back muscles or haven’t seen any growth for a while, attack your back with some of these ideas. You never know the next time you compete and hit a back pose they may be saying lights out, game