Spread Those Wings With These Secrets to Building a Massive Back
Too much focus gets placed on the chest muscles while forgetting to balance your chest with your back. This is not to say that the chest is not important. Every muscle group is important to a balanced physique, but the back is no less important than the chest. I insist on working my back twice per week with one day being a heavy day concentrating on deadlifts and heavy rows for the most part and the second day concentrating more on the pulldowns, pullups and cable rows.
There are two main reasons that the back does not get adequate work – it is not directly seen by the lifter and back training is hard. You can easily flex those glamor muscles in the mirror, but it is not that easy to get a nice snapshot of your back progress without some help. This is just not a good enough reason to neglect the back though. The best professional bodybuilders know that competitions are won with a thick back and legs, so take a tip from them on your bodybuilding training.
The back of your torso includes your lats, rhomboids, traps, spinal erectors and rear delts, as well as plenty of smaller muscles that tie everything together. With such a vast number of muscles, and with the size of some of these muscles, you can see why one can possess so much power with their back muscles.
Balancing the Chest and Back
We all strive for muscular balance and size for aesthetic purposes, but it is more than just that. Neglecting your back while training your chest too much will eventually lead to significant injuries. Shoulders are such mobile joints, which makes them inherently delicate. Being so delicate, you can see why they are often injured. By not balancing your pushing and pulling motions, your shoulders will eventually break down and this is even assuming that you are using good form on bench presses and shoulder presses. My measuring stick is that you shoulder be able to do bent over barbell rows at the same (or heavier) weight than your bench press.
How to Build the Back
There are actually two ways to build the back – size and width. To get that huge, thick back, focus on deadlift variations and the bent over barbell row. These exercises are paramount to a thick back and to making massive strength gains. Dumbbell rows will only round out your back workout even further, so never forget working each side independently. For deadlifts, I like doing a 5 x 5 program, or at least finding a weight that I can do no more than 6 reps with.
How to Widen the Back
If you are looking for those wings on your back, pull-ups and pulldowns are king. There are variations to either exercise, but I prefer the standard pull-up and the wide grip lat pulldown. These exercises are optimal for extending the width of your back to get that tapered look with the wide shoulders and back and tight waist. I prefer the pull-up to start your back workout. If your body is fresh, you should advantage of this ultimate body weight exercise the wide-grip pull-up. You should be able to knock out quite a few pull-ups once you build the upper body strength, and once they become too easy, start adding some serious weight with a belt to make them more challenging.
The Game Plan To Building a Massive Back
Now that we know the core exercises to building that massive back, how do you put it all together to make the most out of your gains? My weekly splits consist of two back workouts – one being the heavy back day and one being the day to widen the back. The heavy back day consists of the big lifts such as barbell rows, deadlifts, etc. while finishing up with some pull-ups. The other day consists of pull-ups to start, lat pull downs, cable rows, etc. Some of these exercises are lower weight / higher reps (12-15).
These secrets will lead you to that massive, thick, wide back that you are looking for, but have not been able to develop yet.