Most people look at the size of your arms or your chest, but when it comes to strength and power the back (and posterior chain) are the real power sources.
As well when it comes to training and building muscle most people neglect what they don’t see.
At HeavyWeights Training Center we have NO mirrors and we prioritize hitting our back muscles for power, strength, and looking awesome.
If you are neglecting your back training you are not as strong as you could be, and a jacked back speaks volumes about how strong someone is.
Here Are My Top 6 Exercises for Building a Jacked Muscular Back.
There is no other exercises that will add muscle and strength to your back like a deadlift.
It’s one of the best exercises for building a thick back and a dense back, and when we are talking strength there is no other exercises that determines overall strength like the deadlift.
Many people avoid deadlifts for fear of injury or because they are damn hard.
Either way, if possible you should deadlift if you want a jacked back.
A few points on the deadlift
– I think for muscle development and size conventional deadlifts are a bit better than sumo deadlifts
– When talking about building muscle I’d recommend an over/over grip using straps to focus on really hitting the muscle.
– As well hit reps from 3-12 reps to really build muscle and strength. Anytime above 5 reps and your grip will be the limiting factor.
– When it comes to deadlifts ALWAYS leave a little in the tank, don’t push to absolute failure and always train with perfect form. The deadlift is the best exercise in the world, but it’s also the exercise that can be the worst. Trust me I know. Leave your ego at the door.
#2. Pull Ups & Chin Ups
Another amazing exercise that you don’t see very often is a pull up or chin up or it’s variations.
Somewhere along the way these got replaced with lat pull downs and other pull down variations.
Get back to basics, find a bar and get your chin up to it.
When it comes to relative body strength for the upper body the chin up or pull up is the true test of strength.
You may see some 250 lb PowerLifters deadlift some insane weight, but most of them can’t do a pull up to save their life. Then look at the bodyweight strength of a gymnast and the muscular development of their back and arms and it’s mind blowing. Bottom line chin ups rule and you should be doing these when possible.
A few points on pull ups
– Read THIS BLOG POST on how to get stronger on a pull up
– Once you can do 1 pull up you are better off doing multiple sets of 1 rep, instead of going all out to failure on 1 set. Do 5 sets of 1 rep instead of trying 1 set of 5. Do this every workout and soon you will be able to do multiple pull ups.
– Don’t think about pulling yourself to the bar, think about driving your elbows back which will help engage the lats.
– Always vary your grips from under hand, over hand, neutral grip, and if possible use rings for your pull ups as they are the most wrist/shoulder/elbow friendly version of the pull up
– Pay attention to your foot and lower body position on your pull ups. Read THIS blog post for more information.
– When you are strong enough to do 5 body weight pull ups start adding weight to your pull up training.
#3 Row Variations
Rows and row variations are some of the best exercises you can do for a thicker stronger back.
I left this as “rows” and not “Bent Over Rows” because there are so many variations for rowing such as T-Bar Row, Barbell Row, Seated Rows etc that I just think rowing options are much better than saying “Bent Over Rows”.
When it comes to rowing exercises here are a few things to consider
– Always think about driving your elbows back, not pulling with the arms for max lat recruitment
– Stretch and squeeze the muscles.
– Don’t row with your lower back, let your lats and upper back do the work.
– When it doubt use straps. Your grip will fail on heavy rows and your goal is to hit your back so invest in a good set of straps to improve your back size and strength
– Vary it up. Change up your rowing types and elbow position to always hit your back in different ways.
#4 – 1 Arm Rows
One of the best exercises for adding muscle to your back and improving your pulling strength is one arm rows.
A very simple yet effective exercises that can be done with kettlebells, dumbells or even a straight bar.
Some tips to improving your 1 arm rows.
– Vary it up between using straps and no straps. It’s important to use no straps to develop functional grip and forearm strength, but your grip by far will be the limiting factor in this exercise. When you go heavy use straps.
– Vary up your rowing by using different variations of training tools. When possible use dumbells, kettlebells, and a standard bar.
– Focus on driving the elbow back, and not pulling with the arm.
– Do your best to use your lats, and not pull with your hips. If the goal is to engage your lats and back muscles then don’t twist your body and use your hips. This is something totally different.
#5 Inverted Rows
Inverted Rows or Horizontal Rows are a great addition to your back. As well inverted rows are a great compliment to any bench press training programs.
With inverted rows you lie in a vertical position and using a bar, swiss bar or TRX you pull your chest to the bar and lower until your arms are straight.
It’s a great idea to do inverted rows (horizontal) and pull ups (vertical pulling) to hit your back and pulling exercises in both planes.
Once you are able to do 8 reps either add weight or slow down the negative portion of the row.
#6 TRX & Suspension Exercises
I love TRX and any suspension type fitness tool. While I don’t think suspension based exercises will pack tons of muscle on your back I do think that for movement and improving upper back mobility and keeping your shoulders healthy the TRX and other suspension systems are fantastic.
They are limitless with the amount of exercises you can do and when it comes to exercises like T’s. Y’s and W’s the TRX is amazing.
Remember to hit your back with basics. Get stronger, lift HeavyWeights and focus on basics basics basics.
I hope you enjoyed this post and if you did please comment, like & share.
Hey Rob King here.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and that it helped you.
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