Back Off! Massive Muscle Building for Your Back
Having a strong back is critical for success in athletics, in staying healthy during training and for overall well-being. With that said, what does it take to get a strong back? Read on and find out how to build massive muscle that will make everybody take notice.
1. Pull Ups and Chins Ups form the foundation:
Pull ups and chin ups are to your back as squatting is to your legs. You need to do them and do them often. Not only do they use a tremendous amount of muscle, but they also get you BRUTE STRONG. All the connective tissues of your shoulders and back get noticeably stronger when you perform these exercises. Many people get bogged down with trying to do max reps on pull ups and chin ups. If you have ever read the Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, Arnold recommends that you pick a goal number of reps you want to achieve and do as many sets as it takes you to reach your goal number. I feel that this is one of the best ways to increase your pull up and chin up strength.
2. Go heavy on big lifts:
By this I mean go heavy on the deadlifts, the barbell shrugs, barbell rows, back extensions etc. All of these lifts require the back musculature to work overtime in a big way to engage and lockout the movement. You will be hard pressed to find a single exercise that does not require the back musculature to be engaged to some degree to help with the execution of the lift.
3. Balance your back budget:
Make sure you train your back with a sense of balance. Make sure to hit a horizontal row (seated rows, DB rows, barbell rows), a vertical pulling motion (shrugs, pull ups, chin ups), also make sure to get your external rotators with some band external rotation, DB external rotations, or cable external rotations. Lastly hit some retractions before or after your work out.
If you follow these three steps, in no time at all you will have a back that legends are made of. Imagine going to the beach and hitting a lat spread and making people wonder if a solar eclipse is occurring. Now tell me that doesn’t sound cool.
Sample Back Workout:
A. Plate Halos 2 x 15
B. DB Retractions 2 x 20
C. Static Pec Stretch 3 x 10 s (each side)
Strength Training Workout:
1. Chins Ups: 10 x 3
2. Barbell Rows 5 x 8
3. DB Shrugs 3 x 10
4. Seated Low Row 3 x 12
5. Band External Rotations 2 x 20
Top 5 Muscle Building Exercises for the Back
Alright, you got me! I threw in some extra ones 🙂
1. The Pull-up / Chin-up
When you see someone walking around the gym with a big back, you can guarantee they can jump up and kill 15-20 pull-ups without even breaking a sweat. See the connection? Pull-ups and chin-ups are two of the best mass builders for the back. Targeting the lats, shoulders, biceps and grip, these exercises have so many different varieties, you’ll never get bored.
- Change the grip; wide, narrow, alternated
- Change the grip again; towels, thick ropes, two fingers, three fingers, gloves
- Overloaded; dip belt, med ball, sandbag, db, kb
- Change the movement; side-to-side, slow negatives, holds, explosive
Sumo deadlifts, conventional deadlifts, beyond the range (from a deficit), rack pulls, it doesn’t matter, do them. The back not only works antagonistically to stabilize the torso (and spine) it works to lock out the weight to finish the movement. Deadlifts, by definition, are an exercise where you can move big weight. Advanced lifters use chains, bands and if you’ve been
- Implement: Barbell, Trap Bar, Db’s
- Stances: Conventional, wide
- Range of Motion: beyond the range (deficit), partial – rack pulls
- Overloaded: bands, chains, straight weight
3. Seated Rows / Bent Over Rows
Don’t throw them, don’t hyperextend, don’t tuck your chins and many other bad technique flaws you see everyday in the gym. Do them correctly and you’ll be targeting your lats, rhomboids, biceps, grip and posterior delts.
Bent Over Rows
Biggest flaw? Being too upright. Most guys use this exercise with too much weight and either throw it up, don’t arch their back or have too limited range of motion from being too upright. Keep your torso as close to parallel to the ground as possible while keeping your back in neutral.
4. Back Extensions
Targeting the erectors, hamstrings and glutes. Stay neutral and don’t hyperextend or hyperflex your lower back. Head should also be in neutral with the back. You can overload this movement with a variety of implements like; kb’s, db’s, med balls, barbells or just holding an Olympic plate.
5. Face Pulls / External Rotations / Band Pull Aparts / Foam Rolling
Even though exercises 1-4 are super important for adding layers of muscle to the back, #5 is the key.
#5 is the difference between fighting through a crappy injury or lifting a long time with the greatest strength potential. Focus on the little muscles that balance and stabilize the joint and are responsible for the health of the shoulders and you’ll be golden.
Face pulls and band pull aparts target the upper and lower traps, rhomboids, posterior delts and teres major.
Foam Rollers improve soft tissue quality and extensibility while releasing tension and removing scar tissue and adhesions.
Check out this video too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kexr7CqnVng
Amazing Shoulder Health Page: Shoulder Rehab
Posture should be upright and the shoulder packed back while doing this controlled movement. The weight can progress as proficiency and strength progresses.
Band Pull Aparts
This movement should be done for tons of reps. Try getting 100 to 200 reps in the fewest sets possible.
Roll back and forth on the targeted area for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
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