"Dude, can I like, park my van on your back?" Ok, I doubt anyone will actually ask that, but you get the idea, big back! The problem is, it's not one of those muscle groups you can show off to people.
Unless you have really wide lats, or a thick pair of traps, they're not very visible when you're fully clothed. This is a reason why some teenagers tend to miss back day "every now and then". Sure, "every now and then" isn't going to be the worst thing in the world, but all those "every now and then's" add up very quickly.
If, like myself, you plan to compete in the future, I can pretty much assure you that if you don't build yourself a back that is both thick and wide, you won't do so well on stage.
This article isn't here to wow you with a training plan that has changed my physique completely, because I genuinely don't have one. I have always trained my back, since my very first week of training. I've never really given it much thought, I just stuck to a routine and trained it. Over time, my back developed quite nicely.
Consistency! That's how. I found a routine that worked, and I stuck to it. Of course, I did change it around every 6-8 weeks, just to keep my body from adapting to it, and I suppose to stop myself from getting bored with the same routine. But I never made any huge changes in my routine, or volume, or rep variables, I just kept at it.
One problem that I have read about, and I have kind of experienced myself, is not being able to concentrate on width, or thickness, as much as the other. You might start a routine with barbell rows, then seated rows, then go on to pull ups. You are likely to find yourself with less energy when you get to the width stage of your training.
Now over the course of one or two workouts, there really won't be a noticeable difference. But give it 4-6 months, and you'll start to notice either the width or thickness of your back is lagging. So what to do. Well, I mentioned changing my routine slightly every 6-8 weeks. You might consider starting with a split that focuses on width:
Then, after 7 weeks, changing to one that focuses more on thickness:
The volumes of these are tailored to myself, and should be adjusted to suit the individual.
This would be an effective routine for someone who has an even back, and just wants to add some size to it. However, many people have more thickness than width, or vice versa. These people would add some sets to exercises that focus on their weak points, and take some away from ones that address their strengths.
Scivation Peak Pyramid Training Back Day
Watch The Video - 08:15
Some of you might think that this is over thinking the issue slightly, which is fine. There are much simpler ways of building a big back. I have a simple template that I use: two width exercises, and two thickness exercises. I will adjust the amount of sets for each exercise depending on how my back is developing. For example, if I felt my back was starting to look like a pan-cake, I would have a routine that looks like this:
This would focus on adding thickness to my back. It's up to you how you train your back. You could use one of the methods I have laid out, or you could do something completely different. All I am trying to achieve with this article is to broaden your view on back training, and inform you as to how you can maximize your back development. But wait, there's something missing...
Deadlifts have always proved to be a problem for me. Not because I can't perform them with good form, or because I can't lift much weight. It's because I've never been able to decide what day to perform them on. Some people will tell you that you should perform them on the same day that you train your hamstrings. Others will tell you that back day should also be deadlift day.
At the moment I'm performing them on leg day. This is because I also work my lower back then too. I personally think that you should perform deadlifts on the same day as whichever body part you feel them most.
If indeed you do perform them on back day, I recommend adding the desired number of sets of deadlifts as the first exercise. This will allow you to deadlift with maximum strength and intensity. This is important because the deadlift is such a major lift.
I don't recommend that you perform heavy deadlifts every workout. I find them to be very taxing on the body, and so I will perhaps perform them for 2 workouts in a row, then take a week or two (depending on how I feel) without them. Again, because they are such a major lift, not recovering fully from them might just hinder your progress with the development of other muscle groups.
So that's about it. Everything mentioned above is tried and true. I feel though, that I should emphasize that in order for you to build a big back, you must be consistent! It's not an overnight job, it takes time. But then, if you're like me, you enjoy lifting, it's not a chore, it's a privilege.
Train Hard, Eat Big and... GROW!