The back is one of the most neglected body parts when it comes to training. It seems as if there are two main reasons for this. One, it’s difficult to see the back the way lifters can check out their arms, chest, abs, legs or shoulders.
Second, training the back properly is really, really hard work! It’s a lot more fun to grind out set after set of biceps curls or to lie back on a bench and do the ego lift, also known as the barbell bench press than it is to perform heavy barbell bent-over rows.
But if you want to truly get big and strong, you’ll need to work the back and you’ll need to work it hard. It’s the biggest muscle on the body and has the potential for incredible strength gains as well. According to Guinness World Records, the world record in the deadlift is 1,003 pounds by Andy Bolton back in 2006. That’s some serious strength!
Strength and muscle gains working the back have a positive effect on the entire body. You can’t build big arms without working the back hard. The body isn’t going to allow the small muscles to get bigger and stronger than the largest, most powerful muscles on the body.
Because it’s a complex muscle group, you’ll also need to attack the back with some different exercises. The back can be worked with rowing style exercises, like the bent-over barbell row, and overhead pulling exercises like the pull-up and the chin up.
To truly work the back in an effective manner, you’ll want to include both types of back exercises in your training regimen.
Here are some of the back exercises you must-have in your workouts:
Dumbbell One-Arm Rows
Bent-Over Barbell Rows
Dumbbell Pullover (or Machine Pullover if available)
Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups
Lat Pulldown Machine (if you need to do higher reps and aren’t yet strong enough on the pull-ups or chin-ups)
By using these back exercises in your back workouts, you’ll not only build a big, strong back, but you’ll also make it easier to add muscle mass over the rest of your body as well.
The core exercise of any back workout is the deadlift. While you won’t use it in every back workout, you should use it often. Every once in a while you may want to take a month off from the deadlift, as it is a very difficult and taxing exercise.
Keep the reps on the deadlift in the 5 to 10 range. While high rep sets on the deadlift can be effective, it can also be easier to lose good form because of fatigue and end up getting hurt.
Here’s a great back workout that works different exercises and areas of the back over a week’s time.
Dumbbell One-Arm Row – perform four sets of 10 reps on each arm with 30 seconds of rest between sets
Dumbbell Pullover – perform four sets of 8 reps, resting 90 seconds between sets
Barbell Deadlift – perform 5 sets of 6 reps per set. Rest two minutes between sets. The sets should be hard but do not go to failure.
Chin-Ups – complete as many reps as possible in ten minutes. Try and beat that number next workout.
Lat Pulldown – perform four sets of ten reps per set with 30 seconds of rest between sets.
Work hard on this back routine and you’ll see mass and strength gains in no time.