Build your back like never before, back excerises, how to work out your back, thicker and wider back
Build your back like never before

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Are you looking for a thicker, wider back? Look no further. I'm going to give you a routine that -- if done correctly -- will spark growth in even the hardest gainer's back. This workout is only for a strong-willed, motivated individual.

If you come away from this routine six weeks from now complaining you didn't get gains, then you didn't push yourself. I'm going to assume that everyone who is going to try this training routine is eating enough protein and gets sufficient sleep. If your diet is weak and/or you tend to not get enough sleep, there isn't any workout that is going to help you achieve optimum gains.

Before we get started I would like to emphasize that you can chose any back exercises you'd like. I highlight four through the course of the article, but there are many quality back exercises to choose from. It's how the sets and repetitions are performed that matters. Are there back exercises that are better at hitting different areas than others? Of course. But as long as you have a variety and perform them correctly, you'll be fine.

Before we get to the workout, please read the following four principles.

  • Do not cheat while performing an exercise. Performing movements without strict form places excessive stress on the connective tissue. When a rep cannot be completed in a smooth fashion, end it. Using other muscle groups, like leaning back to finish a barbell curl, is not stimulating the biceps more. There is absolutely no place for this technique in any program no matter what the level or age of the lifter.
  • Avoid using negative-only training. The theory behind using negatives is based on the fact that you can use a great deal more weight during the eccentric (negative) portion of a lift as opposed to the concentric (raising) portion. The theory states that by performing negatives with heavier weight than you can lift with traditional reps, it will elicit a greater adaptive response and further hasten your progress. As anyone who's performed negative-only training will tell you, it's extremely demanding and wearing on the body. The inroads to your recovery ability, and the wear and tear made by performing negatives, is very difficult to regulate. The ends do not justify the means.
  • No forced reps. A forced rep is performed at the end of a set. As the lifter fails in an attempt to perform the concentric portion of the rep, a spotter helps move it to completion. The lifter then lowers the weight and attempts another rep; when the rep starts to fail, the spotter again helps complete the rep. Forcing a fatigued muscle to do extremely hard work is playing with fire. As with negatives, forced reps -- because of the level of wear and tear -- is a technique that should be avoided.
  • Form over all. I cannot stress this enough. The form you use when performing an exercise is of the utmost importance especially for advanced lifters. This principle coincides with the above, "Do not cheat while performing an exercise." Once you can no longer move the weight in a smooth controlled manner, end the set.

The first three principles are major don'ts, the last is a major do. All four of the above principles are imperative in keeping from walking that tight rope between training with intensity and injury.

Training is the means we use to create the stimulus that forces our bodies to change -- the repetition is the most integral part of training. What is a repetition? It is the motion that provides the stimulus to the target muscles needed to yield an adaptive response.

Most programs neglect the importance of the rep and instead stress types of exercises and numbers of sets. As long as you're using correct form while performing an exercise, the rep otherwise seems to be an incidental. Articles or coaches will advise you to do 6, 8, 10 or possibly 12 reps with no explanation as to how to perform them. Oh, but they'll say, "Just use proper form," or "do your reps under control." Have you been to a gym lately? Most people have no idea what proper form is, let alone how to perform them under control.

I can't stress enough, every rep of every set is important. When performing sub maximal lifts, it does not mean sub maximal effort. Each rep needs to be under control, but as explosive as possible regardless of the weight. You want maximum force with maximum load.

You will perform between 5 and 10 sets per exercise depending on the muscle group and amount of weight you use. That is, you'll perform more sets when doing leg presses as opposed to barbell curls.

During your first exercise your first set will consist of 12 reps using approximately 30 percent of the maximum weight you usually can perform 6 to 8 reps with. If your first exercise for the back is close grip neutral grip pull downs, and you can perform a maximum of 6 reps with 150-pound dumbbells, your first set would be with 50 pounds. Remember to perform this set with a purpose. Just because it's a light warm-up doesn't mean you can perform it haphazardly. The TEMPO of the reps should be 3010; a controlled 3 second negative, with a fairly explosive 1 second positive.

The second set, perform three reps using 50 percent of the maximum weight you usually can perform 6 to 8 reps with. Every set afterward perform 3 reps with a 10 to 20 percent jump in weight until you are using a weight heavier than your maximum. Many of you are going to have to use judgment calls when figuring the weight to use. If your second set of seated cable rows is with 60 pounds, a 10 pound jump is not out of line. However, if your second set of dumbbell curls is 20 pounds, a 10-pound jump is a 50 percent increase. Use common sense.

You have reached your last set of three when any rep "feels" heavy and creeps to a finish. It doesn't matter if it occurs during the first, second or third rep, the set is over. Let me stress, it's ok for a rep to feel heavy, but it should not have sticking points. This will be your heaviest set for this exercise. Slow, laborious reps will hinder your progress. The next time you train you'll know to lower the weight slightly.

Every exercise after the initial one should start with 50 percent of the maximum weight you usually can perform 6 to 8 reps with. Every set afterward, perform 3 reps with a 10 to 20 percent jump in weight until your maximum.

Once you've performed your maximum weight for 3 reps using maximum force, you'll subtract 10 to 20 percent for your final set. So, if you ended with 150 pound seated cable rows for 3 reps, your last set will be with 120 pounds Perform 6 to 8 reps using maximum force without sticking points. As soon as any rep starts to creep to a finish, stop the set. If you can perform more than 8 reps, stop the set at 8 and raise the weight the next workout. If you can't get at least 6 reps, lower the weight next workout. Hold on! You're not done. Rest 20 seconds and resume the set in the same fashion stopping before the point of failure. Rest another 20 seconds and perform as many reps as you can under control. If the weight you chose is correct, you'll only be able to get between two and four reps on the last portion of the set.


EXERCISE SET #1 SET #2 SET #3 - ? 3 sets
20 sec rest
Close neutral grip pull downs 30% of max 50% of max 10% jumps -10 to 20%
6 – 8 reps
Close neutral grip pull downs Close neutral grip pull downs
EXERCISE SET #1 SET #2 - ? 3 sets
20 sec rest
Standing single arm cable rows 50% of max 10% jumps until max -10 to 20%
6 – 8 reps
Standing single arm cable rows Standing single arm cable rows
EXERCISE SET #1 SET #2 - ? 3 sets
20 sec rest
Medium grip pull downs 50% of max 10% jumps until max -10 to 20%
6 – 8 reps
Medium grip pull downs Medium grip pull downs
EXERCISE SET #1 SET #2 - ? 3 sets
20 sec rest
Seated close grip cable rows 50% of max 10% jumps until max -10 to 20%
6 – 8 reps
Seated close grip cable rows Seated close grip cable rows

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