100 1 25 25 bodybuilding.com
Bodybuilding.com Information Motivation Supplementation
in:
Best Back-Building Principles & Routines!

In this article, I discuss back training and the principles that I've used to design good back training routines for myself and many others. By using this information, I guarantee you that you too will get a wide and thick looking back. Read on!

By: Hugo Rivera

dots
Introduction
dots

Through the years I have gotten many compliments on my back development. As a result, I've also gotten many questions regarding how to achieve a wide and thick back.

In this article, I discuss back training and the principles that I've used to design good back training routines for myself and many others. By using this information, I guarantee you that you too will get a wide and thick looking back.

dots
The Importance Of Having A Well Developed Back
dots

A good back not only gives your physique a wide and powerful look, which immediately identifies you as a bodybuilder, but it also gives you the illusion of having a smaller waist.

RELATED ARTICLE
Creating The Illusion Of Size: Maximizing Width.
[ Click here to learn more. ]
Creating The Illusion Of Size: Maximizing Width.
Increase your shoulder width to appear several inches wider. Below you will find routines and exercises that will help you build the appearance of width.
Author:
Jim Brewster

It's sad that some recreational bodybuilders neglect their back training simply because they cannot see the body part, and thus, focus solely on training the chest instead. However, they do not have any idea of the big disservice that they are doing to themselves. The best bodybuilders in the world have a phenomenal back.

dots
Back Anatomy
dots

Before I discuss my principles for creating a great back, let's cover some basic anatomy first.

The back muscles are located on the posterior part of the torso and their function is to draw the arms back and downward. It is composed of four main muscle groups:

  1. The Latissimus Dorsi, which are located right under the armpits and stretch down attaching to the waist. Their function is to bring the arms down and backward.
  2. The Teres Major/Minor And Rhomboids, which attach to the lats around the shoulder blade region and are involved in moving and stabilizing the shoulder blades, as well as helping the lats move the arms.
  3. The Trapezius, which are located on the base of the neck and extend themselves down to the center of the back. Lifting and rotating the shoulders is their main function.
  4. The Spinal Erectors, which are located at the back of the waist at the lumbar region and are attached to the vertebrae, the ribs and the pelvis. Their function is to provide posture and support to the spine.

BACK ANATOMY
Click Text For Info.

dots
Principles To Achieving A Wide And Powerfully Thick Back
dots

In order for your back to be wide and thick you need to develop its four muscle groups. This is accomplished by using a variety of the right exercises that target each muscle group and by understanding which ones emphasize width and which ones emphasize thickness of the mid-back.

The following discussion talks about the different exercises for width and thickness and the muscle groups that they target.

Andrew Merrifield
Andrew Merrifield
Lifelong Natural Bodybuilder.

Week #93 - 12/28/2007
1600x1200 - 1280x1024 - 1152x864 - 1024x768 - 800x600
480x640 - 320x240 - 240x320 - 160x160 - 160x120 - 128x128



Quincy Taylor
Quincy Taylor
IFBB Pro Bodybuilder.
Photo By Kris Gethin.
Week #75 - 8/21/2007
1600x1200 - 1280x1024 - 1152x864 - 1024x768 - 800x600
480x640 - 320x240 - 240x320 - 160x160 - 160x120 - 128x128



Phil Heath
Phil Heath
Winner, 2006 Colorado Pro/Am Classic.
Photo By SecondFocus.
Week #10 - 5/16/2006
1600x1200 - 1280x1024 - 1152x864 - 1024x768 - 800x600
480x640 - 320x240 - 240x320 - 160x160 - 160x120 - 128x128



dots
Good Back Exercises
dots

Like any other list of bodybuilding exercises, back exercises are divided in compound, multi-jointed movements and isolation movements. The compound movements will activate all heads of the muscle emphasizing a particular head depending on the type of movement. Pullup and pulldown motions will mainly accentuate width while providing thickness as a secondary effect. Rowing motions, on the other hand, emphasize thickness of the midback with width being a secondary effect.

As I've mentioned before, compound movements performed with the torso moving through space (such as wide grip pullups, underhand chin-ups, and deadlifts) will give you the most stimulation than compound movements performed on a machine (like the pulldowns, t-bar rows or the low pulley rows). Isolation movements like the stiff arm pulldown then come in 3rd place in regards to stimulation.

dots
1. Latissimus Dorsi Emphasis
(Emphasis On Width But Also Help With Thickness)

dots

    These exercises emphasize the latissimus dorsi section of the back with secondary stimulation on the Teres Major/Minor And Rhomboids.

    Free Weight Basic Exercises (Highest Stimulation):


+ Click To Enlarge.
Pull-ups.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod


+ Click To Enlarge.
Decline Pullovers.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG

dots
2. Teres Major/Minor And Rhomboids
(These Are Midback Muscles So These Exercises Emphasize Midback Thickness But They Also Help With Width As The Lats Are Stimulated As Well)

dots

    These exercises emphasize the midback muscles and thus provide the back with a thick and powerful look.

    Free Weight Basic Exercises (Highest Stimulation):


+ Click To Enlarge.
T-Bar Rows.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod


+ Click To Enlarge.
External Rotations.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod

dots
3. Traps:
dots


+ Click To Enlarge.
Barbell Upright Rows.
Video: Windows Media - Real Player


+ Click To Enlarge.
Dumbbell Shrugs.
Video: Windows Media - Real Player

dots
4. Spinal Erectors Emphasis:
dots

    These exercises emphasize the spinal erectors with secondary emphasis on the teres major/minor, rhomboids, and lats (as in the case of the bent knee deadlift).

    Extreme attention needs to be paid to exercise form and the weight used should always be kept under control. Do not sacrifice form in the name of adding weight as doing so can result in serious lower back injury.

    Free Weight Basic Exercises (Highest Stimulation):


+ Click To Enlarge.
Dumbbell Deadlifts.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod


+ Click To Enlarge.
Hyperextensions.
Video: Windows Media - MPEG - Video iPod

Now that we have presented several exercises for the back, lets take a look at some effective bodybuilding routines for the back.

dots
arrow Beginning Bodybuilding Back Routine:
dots

    For those who are just starting out in bodybuilding, I always recommend a full body routine practiced 3 times a week that uses mostly basic exercises to target each muscle group. As a result, a back routine for the beginning bodybuilder may consist of just a couple of exercises that cover all of the back muscles.

    How To Progress:

      After 4 weeks of performing 2 sets of each exercise for 10-12 reps, move up to 3 sets per exercise. Keep the rest to 1 minute in between sets.

dots
arrow Intermediate Bodybuilding Back Routine:
dots

    After 12 weeks in the beginning bodybuilding schedule, it is time to graduate to an intermediate routine in order to keep progressing. In this routine, the body is split in two separate days; chest, back and arms on day 1, and shoulders, legs and abs on day 2.

    How To Progress:

      After 4 weeks of performing 2 sets of each exercise for 10-12 reps, move up to 3 sets per exercise. Keep the rest to 1 minute in between sets.

      Note: Use either a spotter or a chin assist machine to help you perform the pullup movements. Only use the pulldown machine at this stage in case that none of these options are available.

dots
arrow Advanced Bodybuilding Back Routine:
dots

    After 12-16 weeks on an Intermediate Program, it is time to graduate into more Advanced Bodybuilding Routines. This does not necessarily mean more time in the gym, though for those few of you whose ultimate goal is bodybuilding competition, then more time in the gym will be the case.

    The main difference between Advanced Training and Intermediate Training is that in Advanced Training, you'll need to change your program every 3 weeks to keep the gains coming. Therefore, the use of periodization is key, which is the orderly manipulation of sets, repetitions and rest in between sets.

    Related Periodization Articles:

    If competition is your goal, then you may need to increase your weight training days to 6 in order to accommodate a larger number of exercises.

    There are many splits that one can use as an advanced athlete:

    1. Bodybuilding Antagonistic Muscles Workout Split: In this bodybuilding workout split, the body is divided over three or four days and antagonistic muscles (opposing muscle groups), are paired together in each bodybuilding workout. So you may do chest/back/abs on Day 1, shoulders/arms on Day 2 with legs on Day 3.
    2. One Major Muscle With Two Smaller Muscle Groups Bodybuilding Workout Split: In this bodybuilding workout split, the body is divided over three days and one major muscle group (such as the chest, thighs and back) is paired together with two smaller muscle groups (such as biceps, triceps, hamstrings, calves, abs and shoulders) in each bodybuilding workout. An example of this routine is a push only day such as chest/delts/tris, a pull only day such as back/bis and a legs/abs day.
    3. One Major Muscle Group Per Day Advanced Bodybuilding Workout Split: In this bodybuilding workout split, the body is divided over six days and one major muscle group is targeted in each bodybuilding workout.

Workout Database The Workout Database!
100's Of Workouts!

The Bodybuilding.com Workout Database contains hundreds of categorized workouts that you can search.

[ Search The Database Here! ]

    Now that you have an idea of the training splits that can be used at this level, here are some sample periodized advanced bodybuilding workout routines for the back:

dots
arrow Advanced Back Workout #1 (Weeks 1-3):
dots

dots
arrow Advanced Back Workout #2 (Weeks 4-6):
dots

dots
arrow Competitive Bodybuilding Back Routine:
dots

    For competitive bodybuilding, the goal is to stimulate the muscle from multiple angles in order to ensure full development. At this stage of the game, not only will you be using compound basic movements to keep stimulating growth but also a variety of isolation movements to really target the muscle in specific areas.

    The back routine below is an example of how a competitive bodybuilding back routine may look like. At this stage of the game, the bodybuilder should know what their weak points are and thus change exercise order and choice accordingly. For instance, if width needs to be developed more, then more exercises for the lats need to be incorporated. On the other hand, if midback thickness is lacking then rowing motions need to be emphasized.

    Also, the use of set extension techniques, such as drop sets and supersets is encouraged.

RELATED VIDEO


LiftRite Video Guide:
Back Training With Toney Freeman!

Check out this insightful back training episode with Toney Freeman where he unveils some tips and tricks of his own as he prepares for the 2007 Mr. Olympia!

Click The Play Button To Start The Video.
Or Download Here:

Video iPod (145 MB)
[ LiftRite Main Page ]

dots
Conclusion
dots

Now that you know what my principles for back development are, it's time to go to the gym and put them to the test. I guarantee you that when combined with the right bodybuilding diet, supplements and rest, the results you will achieve may require you to get a new wardrobe.


+ Click To Enlarge.
Author, Hugo Rivera.

About The Author:

    Hugo Rivera, About.com's Bodybuilding Guide and ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, is an internationally-known best-selling fitness author of over 8 books on bodybuilding, weight loss and fitness, including "The Body Sculpting Bible for Men", "The Body Sculpting Bible for Women", "The Hardgainer's Bodybuilding Handbook", and his successful, self published e-book, "Body Re-Engineering". You can visit Hugo Rivera at www.bodybuilding.about.com, at www.HRFit.net, and his new site www.losefatandgainmuscle.com.

Best Back-Building Principles & Routines!
hugo@hrfit.net

Visitor Reviews Of This Article!
Read Visitor Reviews - Write Your Own Review

Back To Hugo Rivera's Main Page

Back To The Articles Main Page.

Related Articles
Scrawny To Brawny: 5 Steps To Big Gains
Train Like A Beast: Physique Competitor Chest Workout
Bolster Your Back: Eliminate Hyperextension With These Deadlift And Press Fixes



RATE THIS ARTICLE
POOR
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
EXCELLENT
OVERALL RATING
N/A

Out of 10

0 Ratings

3

Comments

Showing 1 - 3 of 3 Comments

(5 characters minimum)

      • notify me when users reply to my comment
AlienLifeForm

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
AlienLifeForm

will try this. great stuff

Aug 10, 2013 7:22pm | report
Rickythomas

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
Rickythomas

Going to try and swap a few of these into my terry crews routine. looks good!

Sep 28, 2013 12:17pm | report
YungDZ

Rep Power: 0

  • rep this user
YungDZ

Thanks for the routine i always look for new programs to cause muscle confusion!!!

Dec 11, 2013 7:19pm | report
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 Comments

Featured Product

Give Us Feedback:
Report A Problem
Site Feedback
Follow Us:
Twitter
Facebook
RSS Feeds
Bodybuilding.com Newsletter

Receive exciting features,
news & special offers from Bodybuilding.com