Chest | Back | Shoulders | Arms | Quads | Hamstrings | Calves | Abs

A complete and powerful back isn't just wide—it's also thick and has detail that embodies strength and muscularity. Each of the following exercises builds mass throughout your back to give you the thickness and strength to match your width.

Building mass is about making your muscles work harder, so use whatever assistance you need to make this happen, including a belt and straps. This workout should only take you 30-40 minutes, with 90 seconds of rest in between each set.

Add this workout to your back training or do it on its own.

Brick-Thick Back Workout
Bent Over Barbell Row
2 sets, 12, 10, 10 reps
3 sets, 6-8 reps
+ 3 more exercises


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Technique Tips

Yates Barbell Row

If it's good enough to have earned him the title of Mr. Olympia for six straight years (1992­–1997), it makes sense that this exercise bears his name. Dorian Yates tweaked the barbell row by using an underhand grip and not leaning his torso as far forward as other barbell rowers. The result was a back so wide that Yates was nicknamed "The Shadow."

Although this is a power movement, don't make the mistake of going super heavy and sacrificing form. Keep your shoulders retracted, forcing your middle back do the lion's share of the work. Pull the bar in tight and squeeze your lats before lowering it. If you can't control the weight on the bar, go lighter.

Since you're using an underhand grip, your biceps will be more involved than with an overhand grip, but your back will still do the majority of the work. But focus on your middle back, and you'll find you can get a greater contraction than you would with an overhand grip.

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Two-Arm Dumbbell Bench Row

The only drawback to the single-arm dumbbell row is that as you approach failure, it's tempting to use momentum to pull that bigger dumbbell. Using the incline bench and lying on your chest removes this temptation. By eliminating momentum, it also helps you get a better contraction of the lats. What's more, the stability and support for your lower back helps you better isolate your upper back.

Dumbbell Bench Row

Don't try to speed through the reps—all that will do is work your shoulders and elbows. Slow, controlled movement makes your back work harder, creating more opportunity for growth.

Seated Row With Rope

Doing rows with the rope attachment allows you to separate the ends so you can pull in closer to your body and get a greater contraction.

Here's a twist to add to this exercise: Perform 5-second negatives with each rep. This helps you break down the muscles even more and makes it a great finisher for this workout.

There you have it! The perfect, three-exercise workout to build size and strength and add much-needed mass your back.

About the Author

Roger Lockridge

Roger Lockridge

Bodybuilding is the reason I am who I am today. I am more confident in myself, actually looking for the next challenge, and inspiring others.

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