It is time to get back to the basics when it comes to building your back.
When you look at a trainee you can immediately tell if they are a true contender or an absolute pretender based on their back development. A flat, billboard back will be exposed like an NBA player who cannot shoot free throws in the clutch.
Building a powerful back, just like building stallion legs cannot be faked throughout lame workouts. No one who built a bulletproof back spent years exclusively training on these so-called back machines.
The man who built a worthwhile back spent years pounding away with pull-ups, deadlifts, and rows. He didn’t make excuses as for why he could not do a pull-up nor did he complain about how he “might” get hurt doing deadlifts.
He simply bunkered down and did the work and now he is the proud owner of an impressive back. His lats are so wide he has Batwings!
The combination of these 3 movements and the correct nutrition plan will allow a man to develop the ideal V-Tapered physique. Let me speak about each movement:
Pull-Ups are the cornerstone of any back program.
Pull-Ups will allow you to develop a wider and stronger back but the problem is that most men run from pull-ups (I was this man at one point).
When you run from pull-ups, you run from having a complete physique. I ran from pull-ups when I was younger because I was lousy at them. I had a yellow stripe running right down my back because I was a coward.
This dates back to grade school when we would have to do a physical fitness test. I smoked the sprint testing but I got smoked like a human cigar when it came to push-ups and pull-ups.
I was soundly defeated by everyone in the class including the girls. As a pre-teen boy, this was crushing.
When I competed in bodybuilding for the first time in 2011 I had no lats as my lat spread poses looked horrendous. One of my main goals after the show became to maximize my lats and the go-to movement for developing a wide back is pull-ups.
Every great back in the history of backs owes its formation to pull-ups.
The great thing about pull-ups is that there are a few variations. There is the chin-up which uses a supinated grip which will, in turn, recruit more of your biceps. You also have your neutral grip pull-up which typically will be your strongest version.
All 3 versions and their variations should be rotated for the best results. With enough dedication to pull-ups, you will develop the vaunted V-Taper.
The second basic movement for developing a great back are rows. Rows can be done with the barbell or dumbbells.
Barbell and dumbbell rows are a bodybuilding staples that will build thickness and density in the back.
Barbell rows can be completed with a pronated or supinated grip. Dumbbell rows can be completed with either 2 dumbbells or 1.
Not only will rows build your back, but they will also help your forearm and grip strength.
When you perform high-rep bent rows your grip strength needs to be strong or you will be limited in the movement. By performing bent over rows consistently you will rectify this problem.
In today’s training world, gyms are being filled with an array of machine rows. Many trainees are not even learning the barbell or dumbbell row because of this.
Machine rows are not terrible, but they also are not on the same level as classic rows.
I have used machine rows in the past if my lower back was too taxed from previous lower body or back work. This would allow me to train my back without putting the low back in a bad position.
Use machine rows situationally, but do not replace the basic and more effective back builders with them.
The deadlift is the ultimate move for building a strong, thick, and powerful back. When you look at the backs of some of the greatest bodybuilders of all time those men have something in common…they all deadlifted!
Deadlifts done with correct form will also involve your hamstrings, your glutes, and your abs but the main muscles involved will be those of your back.
If you deadlift as a powerlifter (1-3 reps per set) you will definitely build incredible strength. I never met a man who did not feel like an absolute beast when he crushed his old deadlift PR!
But in order to increase your muscular development in your back, performing deadlifts or Romanian deadlifts (RDL’s) in a higher rep range (6-10 rep per set) will do the trick.
These higher rep ranges will allow you to put the muscles under more tension and force your back to grow. It would be very wise to use both rep ranges to build your ultimate back.
By implementing the basic movements back into your programming, you will reap the benefits of your great decision to do so. You will soon say goodbye to some of your shirts.
I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,
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