4 Moves To Change Up Your Back Workout

There is nothing wrong with post-workout selfies but it is boring seeing the same old ab and chest shots. There seems to be a real lack of well-developed backs out there. Things like dense lats, 3d traps, a wide v-taper, capped rear delts and lower-back musculature that makes foothills on each side of the spine. It is very hard to build that kind of back with your workouts.

Showing off a well-muscled back is something most people do not do for a selfie.

It is no wonder so many people take pictures from the front. If you wish to stand out from the crowd, you are in the right place, the four techniques in this article are definite winners for unparalleled back development. Use them to take your back size, strength and symmetry to new heights, you will soon be snapping selfies at your better side.

1) Deadlift

Deadlifting causes you to use pretty much every muscle in your body as you move the bar up from the floor and transition to an upright position. In the chain of muscles involved in this process, nothing is left behind and everything is forced to contribute.

It begins with your lower back. Nothing builds your lower spinal erectors like the repetitive action of heavy deadlifting for reps, the deadlift is more than a lower-back exercise though. As you move through the full range of motion and transition from the lower part of the lift to the lockout phase, your grip, lats, traps and other upper back muscles take over.

The traditional deadlift brings all of your back into play to work all of the muscles.

When you lock the weight out, you are holding a very heavy weight in a dead-hang position, which places anabolic-spiking pressure on your traps, creating a synergistic combination that builds thickness in your upper back and shoulders.

Training Tips

  • To better target your back, use a conventional hip-width stance when deadlifting. Furthermore, as the range of motion is greater than a sumo deadlift, more mechanical work is done and the muscles are under a greater tension for longer. Sumo deadlifts can maximize leverage for powerlifting but are not great for building size, whereas normal deadlifts serve as the gateway to hypertrophy heaven. Where growth is the goal, you want to keep reps in a variety of ranges, working both low and high.
  • Everything in training has a risk to benefit ratio. When using good form, the risk is pretty low on this basis and the benefit is high. Stop deadlifting in your session if your form starts to go otherwise you will have lost the desired training effect and have a potential date with your friendly chiropractor.
  • If you are thinking about how wide you should place your feet, use the same stance you would do for standing vertical jumps, you can then adapt your stance to your personal preference.

2) Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

This movement is a tried and tested bodybuilding basic but this is a unique spin on it. Instead of following a normal formula of 3 sets of 10, instead do as many reps as possible for a given amount of time. Your goal here is to go for 30 seconds. For a 30 second set on each side you’ll want to use a weight at which you can perform about 10 reps.

Getting a well-developed back is something most people are missing.

You will likely reach failure (normally 2 seconds per rep) so you’ll continue with partial reps until you hit 30 seconds. Don’t stop your set at failure. Start with your weaker side and match the number of reps on your stronger side.

Training Tips

  • Start with the first set as the heaviest. On each following set, reduce the weight by around 20%. So if you are using a 100-pound dumbbell for the first set, the second set would be with 80 pounds and third set at 65 pounds.
  • Performing the rowing movement unilaterally allows you to better concentrate on each rep and then take the set beyond failure. Ultimately, this results in your backside muscles spending more time under maximal tension and enduring greater amounts of metabolic stress, two essentials for hypertrophy.
  • This is about building a large back so don’t let your grip be a limiting factor, throw on straps as you need them.

3) Straight-Arm Pull-Down

This is one you wouldn’t expect to be on the list of big-back moves as it is a single-joint exercise but it was a firm favorite of powerlifting bench-press world champion record-holder Doug Young, a man built like a bodybuilder and even became a training advisor to a younger Arnold Schwarzenegger. On every upper-body workout, not just back day, Young included 6 sets of straight-arm pull-downs.

Some pulling movements make your biceps the limiting factor but when you do a single-joint movement like this one, the biceps are taken out of the equation which allows you to better isolate your lats and this exercise does that very well.

Straight arm pull-downs can be performed with a lat bar or rope attachment on a cable lat station. Put them out for one minute straight, don’t worry about reps with a weight around your 20 rep max. Go at a controlled pace, focus on range of motion, work the muscle and control the negative.

As with any workout, make sure your diet is also up there with the best as well.

Training Tips

  • Some movements are not ruined by cheating and may even be enhanced but this is not one of those movements, keep it strict.
  • At the top of the movement, focus on stretching your lats, on the way down, focus on tightening them, keeping your arms extended throughout. By keeping your torso slightly inclined, you’ll more effectively target your lats.
  • I keep the negative portion of the rep under control at all times, taking up to five seconds to reach the top position before starting the next rep.
  • If you are having trouble feeling your lats during a movement, do a lat-spread bodybuilding pose for six seconds prior to performing the exercise and slow down the negative to a full five seconds.

4) Neutral Grip Pull-Up

I think most of us are familiar with the overhand grip pull-up. A neutral grip is simply your palms facing each other. Here, you want them about shoulder-width apart. This movement is much more friendly on the wrists, elbows and shoulders than either overhand or underhand chin-up versions.

This exercise will really help build your back with minimal stress on your joints.

The main function of the lats is to pull the humerus (upper arm) down and into the body, they also have a synergistic role in extension and lateral flexion of the spine. Both of those functions take place with the neutral grip pull-up which is why so many bodybuilders feel it is the king of lat-building movements.

Begin the pull-up from an arms-extended position and hold the bar keeping tension in your lats and shoulders whilst squeezing your glutes. Pull your chin over the bar by dividing your elbows down, lower your body under control to the starting position.

Training Tips

  • Why do this normally? Do these pull-ups in cluster sets so you can sneak more volume into a minimal amount of time. Do 3 reps, rest 15 seconds and repeat this sequence for four minutes.
  • If you find this too easy, which is unlikely, because you won’t know until towards the end. By all means add weight, this may be too difficult so you can do these band assisted or use an assisted pull-up machine.
  • To increase intensity, do these with a five second eccentric, once you can no longer maintain that tempo, switch to a traditional tempo.

Rest is also very important when training hard.

In Closing

I have put together a back workout below that puts all four of these champion making monsters together in a single routine. Try it for a month and you will see and feel a big difference. After a few sessions, you will dying to pull out your phone.

  • Do as many warm-up sets as you need to for each movement.
  • Don’t take deadlifts to muscle failure, always leave a rep or two in the tank.

Photo Worthy Back Workout

  1. Deadift – 5 sets of 4-6 reps.
  2. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row – 3 Sets of 30 seconds per arm.
  3. Straight-Arm Pull-Down – 3 sets of 60 seconds.
  4. Neutral-Grip Pull-Up – 1 cluster set of 3 reps/15 seconds, continue for 4 minutes.

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