Building a big back is essential to developing a well rounded, balanced and aesthetically pleasing physique.
You don’t have to recreate the extreme’s of Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, or my coach, Eddy Ellwood, but you shouldn’t hold back when focusing your efforts into this muscle group. Over the past 18 months alone i’ve made some awesome back gains, and im going to share that workout with you today.
I train each muscle group twice a week. Once heavy, and the second, volume. I train back the same day as triceps. When training heavy Back, I train back first, followed by volume riceps. When training volume back, I train it after heavy Triceps.
For my development, it’s been important to train both days, as to hit each area and activate both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers.
Today im going to run through my high volume back workout. Whilst I usually train this after heavy triceps, I sometimes separate my workouts in to 2 sessions each day.
My High Volume Back Workout
Super Set 1 – 4 x 12-15
Machine Pull Down
Super Set 2 – 4 x 12-15
Lower Back Extension
Rest time between sets 45-60 seconds.
Now what you see in the corresponding footage is slightly different, let me explain why.
My ‘typical’ routine would be what i’ve described above. However if a machine is being used, I’m not one to wait around. As long as you’re hitting that kind of movement, then you’re all good.
For example, The machine row could be a barbell row or cable row. The machine pull down could be a cable pull down. Using the above is a good starting point, however there may be certain exercises you would like to change.
I see a ton of guys who go balls to the wall when training biceps or chest, but cruising when it comes to back. A lot of people find it difficult to develop their back effectively for a number of reasons. Along with this routine, here are a few points from me to help you with your back development.
Out Of Sight – Out Of Mind
When training arms, shoulders or chest, rocking a stringer puts you on full display. You can see striations forming in your upper chest when pressing or flying. Mole-worm like veins begin to look like they’re going to pop out of your skin when you’re hitting a bicep curl. That 3d deltoid looks like its ready to crush something after you’ve finished your shoulder workout.
Its hard to see the back at work however. Because you can’t see the results in a gym mirror whilst you’re working, you may not be as motivated to train as hard on back day. This leads us to motivation…
Motivation – Or Lack There Of
If you can’t see gains quickly (or in the case of back – if you can’t see it at all), its hard to get motivated. When you’re putting so much effort into something and seeing no results, its easy to throw in the towel, and think ‘what’s the point’.
Now motivation isn’t just something you need for a back workout, its something you need if you want to be successful at anything in life.
As a competitive bodybuilder, I am motivated from show to show. I know that I need to train hard and eat right in order to be in top shape for my next show. 12-16 weeks outs its pretty easy to stay motivated. You know there is a destination at the end of the road. However if I dont have a show for 6 months, or if i wasn’t competing at all, my motivation may dwindle a little bit. That’s one of the reasons I created my protein discount code site & began tracking my body transformations over on my youtube channel.
On my site, I produce video & written reviews of supplements I try. It gives me a chance to try new things out, share my thoughts, and get feedback from people online. It’s also allowed me to carry out interviews with people I looked up to as role models when I was younger, along with many experts in nutrition and training.
My Youtube channel helps me keep a visual log of my progress. I’m able to look back at how I looked this time last year, and see if i’ve improved. Because this content is out there for anyone to see, it also motivates me to not look like an idiot. I don’t want to look the same, or worst, than I did a year ago online. Having that in the back of my mind gives me a little boost, and a little kick to bust my ass on days where I may feel like not even training.
Chasing The Pump
Whilst ‘the pump’ does not directly lead to muscle growth, it is a good indication that you’re hitting isolating the target muscle group, and working it effectively. The back can be an awkward muscle group to get a good pump going. As such, many people I know won’t put as much effort into their back workouts.
A good work around for this is using a pre-exhaustion exercise, that will isolate the lats and allow you to get a pump before moving onto the mass builders.
Try starting your next back workout with some straight arm rope pull downs. You don’t need a heavy weight. Just enough to get 12-15 reps. Perform each rep with a slow range of motion, squeezing at the bottom, will ensure you get that pump, and start your workout off on a positive note.
Your Too Lazy To Train Hard
Anyone can ‘go beast mode’ when bicep curling. However to perform heavy deadlifts, barbell rows, t-bar rows or weighted chins takes a different mentality. These are all physically, and mentally, exhausting exercises.
In order to get your head around this, all I can suggest is you man up, and get motivated.
Poor Nutrition & Poor Supplementation
This doesn’t just apply to back development. A poor nutritional plan, and a bad supplement stack will get you no where fast.
The amounts of food you should eat to gain muscle are covered in Body Spartan, along with some killer supplement recommendations, so I won’t tread on old ground in this article.
What I will say however is, listen to your body. When trying to develop mass, there will be days when you need larger amounts of protein or carbs than what is part of your ‘plan’. Personally, I find back day and leg day to be the most tiring.
When cutting for a show, i’ll stick to my intake 99% of the time. However If I feel like im not recovering quick enough, or DOMS has set in, i’ll bump my protein intake slightly, maybe through a protein shake or an extra portion of meat.
When im adding mass however, if I feel the need to carb up after a workout because my metabolism is on fire, I will. If my muscle’s are sore and not recovering as quickly as they normally would, i’ll turn to my supplement stack and take in extra protein, BCAA, or essential amino acids.
If you’re not nailing the basics, you can never hope to progress. As an absolute bare minimum, for building mass you should be aiming for
1g of protein per lb of bodyweight
2g of carbs per lb of bodyweight
0.3-0.4 fat per lb of bodyweight
Put Your Back Into It
If you’re serious about developing a stronger, bigger back, then you can’t go wrong by following the advice i’ve laid out here. There are no ‘secrets’ when it comes to bodybuilding. By keeping things simple, sticking to the basics, and being consistent, you’ll make the gains you want.
Are you struggling with back development? Give this workout a try and let us know what you think of it below.
About The Author
Adam Foster has an MSc in Marketing Management & a BA (Hons) Degree in Business Management. He is the founder of http://cheapproteindiscountcodes.co.uk and hosts a series of entertainment and fitness related videos on his youtube channel, http://www.youtube.com/shreddybrek & and on his bodybuilding blog http://www.shreddybrek.com. Having trained since a teenager, he began competitive bodybuilding in 2013.