The typical gym around is about the chest and but the big back is what separates men from boys. If your goal is to build a thick wide back, you are the right place.
Why is the back often ignored?
Maybe, because it’s hard to admire in the changing room mirror after exercising, you can’t watch it get all pumped and swole while training it, but a strong back adds depth and form to your physique and is important for getting a big squat and bench, you can’t move big weights without a big back support.
It is also important for athletes who participate in sport that involves pulling, climbing. In the application of Real -world, a big strong back is very functional in lifting and carrying things from one place to another. A big wide back is absolute essential in developing a quality muscular physique and has always been considered a measure of a Man’s strength.
Anatomy of the back
The back is sub-divided into the upper, mid and lower back.
- The upper back connects the trapezius and posterior deltoid muscle groups, these muscles provide height and breath to back growth.
- The mid-back consists of the latissimus dorsi (lats, rhomboids and teres major).
- The lower back muscles are called the erector spinale and include the longissimus muscle.
- Trapezius: a flat triangular muscle that extends from the neck down to the middle of the shoulders. Containing three muscle fibers which are the lower trapezius, middle trapezius and upper trapezius fibers. Traps are a complete set of muscles, controlling the scapulae (shoulder blades) that play a role in lowering the shoulders, neck movement and head support.
- Rhomboids: rhomboids originate on the spinal column and attach to the center of the scapula. The rhomboid muscles functions when you bring and press the scapula or shoulders back and together.
- Latissimus dorsi: It is a large triangular muscle extending from under the shoulders to the lower end of the back. The latissimus works by pulling the shoulders down and back.
- Teres major: A teres major is a small piece of muscle within the back. The muscle protrudes from the outer edge of the scapula and attaches to the humerus. Its functions include pulling the arm down and rotating it inward.
- Spinal erectors: they are groups of lower back muscles that provide support to the spinal column and help keep the spinal column upright. Their job is to stretch the spine.
Let’s move on how to build a thick, wide back.
Building a big back is complex, the back is a large muscle containing different muscles. If you want a big and wide back, you need a lot of varieties to do this which is why in this article we will divide the back training to the back thickness and back width.
When it comes to building back width, vertical pull allows for width with exercises such as pull downs, pull up, and pull overs to create back width. While for thickness, you can use exercises such as deadlifts, rows and shrugs.
To build back width you need to shift emphasis to the latissimus dorsi muscle which is responsible for creating the width in the back.
To effectively target the lats, with this exercise ensure to flare the elbows and keeping the weights close to the body as it creates more contraction in the lats.
How to do the barbell pullovers
- Lie on your back on a bench. Grasp the barbell from behind and position over the chest with the elbows slightly bent.
- Then slowly lower bar over and above the head until the shoulders are completely flexed. Return and repeat.
Note: Keep the elbows slightly bent throughout the exercise. A straight barbell or EZ bar can be used.
This exercise also targets the lats, there is no better exercise for the back width other than this good old-fashioned pull up. This exercise is good for lengthening and widening the lats. They also greatly increase the role of the shoulders and scapular stabilizers such as teres muscle and infraspinatus. Experimenting with different grips can change emphasis in different area of the lats.
How to do the pull up
- Grasp the pull up bar using an over-hand grip, shoulder width apart.
- Hang on the bar, then pull yourself up trying to touch the top of your chest to the bar.
- At the top of the movement, hold for a moment.
- Then lower the body to get the full stretch of the lats. Work for a full range of motion
Lat pull-downs, just as the name implies it targets the latissimus dorsi, it can be used as a supplemental exercise to use for increasing workout intensity and also help beginners who find it difficult to do a pull-up. The Lat pull- down also targets the same muscles same as the pull up with minimal involvement of the shoulder stabilizers, which is a very important when trying to build a wide back.
How to do a lat pull-down
- Adjust the pad so that it rests on your lap to reduce movement.
- Hold the bar with a wide grip, keep a straight back and look forward.
- Retract the shoulder blades back and pull the bar down in front of your chest.
Seated cable row
It is an excellent pulling exercise for developing the back muscles especially the latissimus dorsi. The seated cable row is done on a weighted cable machine with a bench and foot plates. This also works on the forearm muscles and upper arm muscles, as the biceps and triceps are a powerful stabilizer for this exercise.
Before you start, adjust the seat. Your shoulders should be leveled with the handles of the machine.
How to do the seated cable row
- Sit upright on a bench and plant your feet securely on the floor or the foot pads with your knees bent.
- Keep your body stationary. Using an overhand grip, grab the cable or handle with both hands.
- Extend your elbows to pull the cable towards your waist.
- Pause for a second and squeeze the shoulders together at the top of the movement, before returning to the starting position.
In order to have a complete big back your back should not just be wide but thick and fleshy as well. The main muscles needed to develop thickness in the back are the trapezius and spinal erectors. These are the muscle groups that create a thick back look. The best exercises for the spinal erectors are deadlifts, seated cable rows, weighted back hyperextensions and barbell rows.
Small muscle groups such as rhomboids also contribute to back thickness, but are mostly trained during the trapezius and spinal erector training session.
A deadlift is the foundation on which the power and size are built. If you are determined to build a big thick back, deadlift is your go to exercise. Hit the deadlift with a heavy weight at the beginning of your workout while you are still fresh because it’s really taxing on the body due to the activation of most muscle group in the body.
How to do deadlift
- Stand in front of a weight loaded barbell, bend at the knees, lean forward and hold the barbell in a medium grip width, with one hand in over-hand grip and the other in an under-hand grip.
- Keep your back straight to protect your back from strain, keeping a round back can lead to in jury.
- Start the lift by driving with the legs
- And slowly straighten up until you are standing upright.
- Then bend the knees and lean forward from the waist to lower the weight in a slow and controlled manner
Barbell bent over row
The barbell bent over row targets the middle trapezius, rhomboids, teres major, posterior delt and the lats. This exercise is a full back builder, it not only adds density to the back, it also widens the back too.
When doing this exercise to build thick slabs of back muscle, the barbell need to be done with flared elbows which completely place emphasis on the traps and the upper back area and this should be done with a wide grip while keeping the elbows high which completely focuses on the upper back.
How to do the barbell bent-over row
- Standing with feet a few inches apart, grasp the barbell with a wide over-hand grip.
- With a slight bend, look forward until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor.
- Keep your back straight, face up, grab the bar and let it hang about the length of your lower arm almost touching the shin bone.
- Using primarily the back muscles, lift the bar upwards until it touches the upper abdomen.
- Then lower it under control and return to its original position.
This is one of the best exercises for both strength and muscle growth, this is mainly targets the traps and upper back.
How to do the Shrugs
- Begin with the feet flat on the floor, feet shoulder width apart.
- With you palms by your side, turn them to face each other while holding a pair of dumbbells in each hand.
- keep a straight back and look forward.
- Inhale as you bring your shoulders as high as possible around your ears. Do this slowly.
- Lower your shoulders back down and exhale.
The weighted hyperextension is a weighted variation of hyperextension used to target the lower back muscles also adding to the thickness of the back.
The weighted hyperextension is a way to progress the hyperextension for muscle growth
How to do the weighted hyper extension
- Setup on the hyperextension machine, begin in a hinged position, hold the plate to your chest with your arms crossed, and begin to move by flexing your glutes.
- Extend the waist and finish with your body in a straight line.
- Repeat for desired number of repetitions.
The best back workout tips
Mind muscle connection
If your goal is to build a thick wide back, you need to feel the muscles working, you can’t see the muscles working like the chest or arms. So you need to establish a mind muscle connection with the muscles working which is very important in muscle growth.
One recent study, a 2018 study by schoenfeld and colleagues showed that focusing on mind muscle connections of the of the biceps during arm curls led to a double increase in biceps height compared to just trying to lift the weights. Therefore, focusing on feeling the back during back workout is important.
Eat more calories
One of the biggest factors that will determine the size of your back is the way you eat. If you want to build a big back, you need to have a healthy diet and a high calorie diet to gain size. Adequate nutrition combined with excellent back workout will enable you to reach a thick wide back faster.
Squeeze the muscle
Squeezing the muscle during your workout is a good step towards achieving better mind muscle connection and will help increase the number of muscle fibers used during your exercises. Do not simply lift the weight and lower it, while the weight is being pulled, squeeze the back for a moment before performing the negative. In order to increase efficiency and get more results from your workouts, you need to squeeze the muscles targeted at all stages of movement during your workouts.
Hand grip placement and width
The placement of your hands basically controls what muscles you will be working on. There are three things that determine your grip: hand positioning (over hand and under hand) and the width of your grip (wide or narrow). This can be used to target different muscles.
Full range of motion
Don’t short change your range of motion just for more reps. Always us good form during your workouts and keep your back straight, rounding your back during your workout can lead to injuries. Pulling the weight all the way so it can contract can help to improve the details in the back.
Make sure that you do a warm up before you start your workout routine, as this will help your body to get used to the workout routine so that your body doesn’t become tense and sore during the workout as this makes it difficult to perform the next exercise, making it harder to concentrate on the next.
Finally, it’s also important to make sure that you give your back plenty of rest so that your back doesn’t become overworked. Never exceed the recommended level of daily exercise as this can cause injury.
The best back workout will give you an overall stronger back what is behind you is equally important as the show room muscles. A big back makes you stand out. It is a statement of strength and power that commands respect.