A big, thick back is an essential piece of any awesome physique. Wide lats make your upper body look bigger and your waist look smaller, and thick traps—upper, medium, and lower—make your entire body look more powerful. If you want to look and perform like a superhero, you can't turn your back on back training.
If you're not sure of the best way train your back—or you just need a new workout to add to your split—let these inspiring BodySpace members help you out. These seven MuscleTech athletes know exactly what it takes to look great on the stage and perform at their peak in the gym. See how they train this major muscle group, and learn from their principles.
Personal trainer Ed Honn has some seriously great aesthetics. He doesn't just look good from the front, either. His back is wide and ripped—an excellent testament to his hard work in the gym.
When he trains his back, Ed likes to stick to the basics: wide-grip pull-ups, heavy rows, and deadlifts. His goal is to achieve overall width and density. "Proper exercise selection will help work every angle of your back," he explains.
What separates Ed from many of his fellow pro-card hopefuls is his excellent warm-up technique. "You must add a warm-up to prevent injury while enhancing performance," he advises. If you try Ed's back workout, you'll notice he starts it with the TRX trainer before he does any weighted work.
- Self-Myofascial Release Warm-Up (foam rolling)
- TRX Row
2-3 sets of 8 reps
- TRX Flyes
2-3 sets of 8 reps
- TRX Face Pull with External Rotation
2-3 sets of 8 reps
- Bodyweight Wide-Grip Pull-Up
2 sets of 8-12 reps
- Weighted Wide-Grip Pull-Up
5 sets of 6-8 reps
- Pendlay Row
4 sets of 12, 12, 10, 8 reps
- T-Bar Row
5 sets of 12, 10, 8, 8, 6 reps (last set is a drop set)
Competitor Jimmy Everett wants to inspire others to reach their fitness goals. It only takes one look at his fantastic physique to believe he knows how to get results. If you need some back-spiration, Jimmy is your guy.
Jimmy uses multiple variations of pull-downs to help hit his back from multiple angles. He also chooses exercises that will help him build width and strength at the same time. "I believe in using variation and hitting your back muscles at every angle possible to achieve the best possible development," he says.
As you go through this workout, you'll see that each exercise is done with a different rep scheme. This is purposeful. Utilizing various rep ranges will stimulate your muscles in new ways so they never stop growing.
Jesse Hobbs's two-year post-surgery transformation is absolutely incredible. He put on an amazing amount of thick, solid, aesthetic muscle and built a stage-ready body. This aspiring pro bodybuilder is a tank.
To grow his back, Jesse prefers keeping the rep ranges moderate, making sure he can lift as heavy as possible without calling on any other muscle groups. "Remember, muscle grows under tension, so try not to work another big muscle group with back if you want insane results," he says.
Jesse prefers to hit his biceps on back day. "Adding a few biceps exercises after you work your back is a good way to spark extra growth," he says, "especially because they've already been torn down from all the back work."
- Wide-Grip Pull-Up
2 warm-up sets of 15 unweighted reps, 3 warm-up sets of 10 weighted reps
- Lat Pull-Over
4 sets of 10 reps
- Lying T-Bar Row
12 sets of 8 reps
Canadian Justin Robbins has been through an inspiring fitness journey. In 2007 he was overweight and unhealthy. Now, he's a MuscleTech athlete and a provincial-level natural bodybuilder. He knows exactly what it takes to transform.
"For almost all sets, no matter what exercise I'm doing, I stop the motion just before lockout in order to keep tension on the muscle and control the movement," Justin explains. His primary goal is to lengthen the amount of time his muscles are under tension.
Justin also notes that he always adds a squeeze at the top of every movement, holding it for 1-3 seconds before lowering the weight back down. He lists this as one of the keys that have helped him develop his excellent back.
- Lat Pull-Down
3 sets of 15 reps
Jason Dwarika is an online coach and WBFF Muscle Model competitor. He's also about as aesthetic as you can get. There's nothing fancy about his back workout, but it's usually the bread-and-butter bodybuilding workouts that bring the best results.
Jason likes to focus on specific areas of his back during each phase of his workout. "The first phase stimulates the outer—and often weaker—portions of the back," he explains. "The second phase is all about the core, and building power movements into the routine to help build strength in the lower back. The third and final phase will completely fatigue the previously stimulated areas."
Canadian bodybuilder Nick Twum doesn't just looks great; he's as strong as an ox. The 24-year-old college student has built thick, solid, full muscles, and he's done it by making sure all of his workouts are complete with compound lifts.
For his back workout, Nick starts with pull-ups. "I usually hit pull-ups with different hand placement or grips to target the different parts of my back. I do them with a wide grip, close grip, neutral wide grip, neutral medium grip, a V-bar attachment, and a supinated grip." Nick's workout illustrates how subtle adjustments can change the way muscles are targeted.
Nick makes sure every day is different by alternating bodyweight-focused back days with resistance-focused back days. These changes in load help him hit his muscles with all types of stressors.
- Chest-Supported Elbows-Flared One-Arm Long Bar Row
4 sets of 12 reps
- Supinated-Grip Barbell Row
4 sets of 12 reps
5 sets of 4-8 reps
Dave Dreas's polite, pleasant attitude and killer physique have made him a great coach for the masses. He may not be the biggest guy in the gym, but he has aesthetics that make guys jealous and ladies swoon.
"Back day is my favorite day," says Dave. "I like to go heavy and get after it." He adds that he always takes straps with him to the gym. "Your arms will give out before your back does, so if that continues to happen you won't maximize the growth potential of your back."
He says that rack pulls are the highlight of his workout. "I retract my shoulder blades at the top to see the full effects of the movement."