The back is a complicated and multi-layered part of your physique. The outer, or visible part of your back consists of the upper, middle and lower trapezius, posterior deltoid, teres major and minor, and the external abdominal oblique. The deeper layers consist of the rhomboids and the erector spinae. This is of course not an all-inclusive list but is sufficient for the purpose of this article.
The width of your back is determined but the size of the latissimus dorsi and the teres major. These are the muscles that are most prominent in the rear lat spread pose. But keep in mind that your lats are displayed with front poses like the front double biceps pose, front lat spread, and abdominals and thighs pose.
The exercises that most effectively target these muscles are lat pull downs with a wide overhanded grip. This will hit the upper portion of the lats as well as the teres. You can modify this exercise by using a narrow underhand grip. To hit the lower portion of your lats I suggest doing bent-over bar rows with an underhanded grip. Just make sure you are at approximately a 30 angle from being completely upright. The final exercise I would suggest for this portion of your back would be pullovers either with cables or with a dumbbell. For another pic, click here.
Back thickness mostly depends on the size of your erector spinae, middle,lower, and upper trapezius, and posterior deltoid. The posterior deltoid really adds to back thickness front a side position because it makes your overall physique look thicker.
Developing this part of your back is perhaps the easiest as far as number of exercises but also the most difficult due to amount of weight needed to stimulate the muscles. Some exercise suggestions for back thickness would be deadlifts, seated cable rows, t-bar rows, hyperextensions, and reverse flyes. For these exercises you really need to focus on high poundage repetitions using compound movements. Compound movements are those which involve numerous muscles in order to balance and support the body during the movement.
These exercises also happen to have the highest potential for injury secondary to large muscle groups moving large amounts of weight. Be sure to warm up properly and use perfect form for the deadlifts or you will pay for it in the morning.
I tend to be a little more lenient when it comes to form on back exercises (with the exception of deadlifts). This is due to the fact that for each exercise you perform you are using more than one group of muscles. The primary muscles are assisted by additional muscles which serve to stabilize your body to properly perform the exercise. These additional muscles are called secondary or stabilizer muscles.
For example, during seated cable rows you are using middle traps, rhomboids, paraspinals, posterior deltoids, and lats. So in order to get the best bang for your buck cheat a little. When I say cheat I am referring to leaning forward approximately 45 before pulling the weight. To finish the movement bring the handle right to your belly button and bring your chest up. This will really help to involve all the groups of muscles.
The idea behind this practice is to recruit as many muscles as possible during one movement. It is very difficult to isolate one muscle during most back movements due to the secondary stabilizer muscles.
I prefer to have two or three programs that I rotate each time I work my back or any other body part. I will substitute in different exercises depending on how I feel and what I really need to focus on that week. To use these programs, do the Week 1 program one week and the next week do the Week 2 program.
Wide Grip Lat Pull Downs: 4 x 15, 12, 10, 8
Bent Over Reverse Grip Bar Rows: 3 x 12, 10, 8
Seated Cable Rows (Narrow Grip): 3 x 12, 10, 8
Cable Pullovers: 3 x 12, 10, 8
Hyperextensions: 3 x 15
Chin-Ups (add weight): 4 x 15, 12, 10, 8
T-Bar Rows (Wide Grip): 3 x 12, 10, 8
Reverse/Narrow Grip Lat Pull Downs: 3 x 12, 10, 8
Deadlifts: 3 x 12, 10, 8
Hyperextensions: 3 x 15
I hope that this article will help you to develop your back into a huge, well-developed piece of meat. Just keep in mind that this is the program and logic behind my training and is not THE WAY but merely A WAY.
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