If you’ve ever wondered what back exercises are the best and which ones will give you that awesome v-shape, then you need to read this article.
So you want that awesome taper and v-shape in your back? So does half the population of the world. Your advantage though, is that you have me. I’ve built a solid v-shape over the years experimenting with different exercises, rep schemes, and grips. Truth be told, fellow Body Spartan team member Rycklon Stephens (AKA: Big Zeke) was the one that helped me the most. Yeah, I’m a full on Zeke-Freak when it comes to taking his advice. Why? Ah, because it works. So let’s look at the last four tips you will ever need to build an chiseled back.
4 tips to tweak your back exercises
When I started incorporating bent over barbell rows into my back workouts, my lats started growing exponentially. It wasn’t until Zeke showed me a little tweak though, that I really started stacking on size. Here’s the tweaks:
- Instead of bending over at a 60 degree or 45 degree angle, Zeke suggested that I stand slightly more upright (more of a 30 degree angle), pull the bar up to my belly button and lower it along the thighs back to the starting position. This tweak moves the angle of attack from recruiting your rear delts to almost fully relying on just your lats.
- Widen your grip. Index fingers on the outer barbell line. This wide grip puts more strain on your outer lats and moves it away from your inner back. You wanna look like a cobra, then do this.
- Go heavy. Shoot for 6-8 reps with sets of 4 for the first 4 weeks, then drop it to 5 sets of 5 as I recommend in my book, Body Spartan: Genesis (link below).
Isolation exercises are great but not for putting on mass. Do your compound exercises before you do any single arm or isolation exercises. These would be back exercises like:
- Barbell Rows
- Lat Pulldowns
- Cable Rows
These back exercises allow you go heavier and put more stress on the back muscles than the single arm or isolation movements. Save those for your burnout once your compound exercises are done.
3. Switch your grip
JTG just discussed his “Grip Switch Workout” recently and trust me, this theory applies to more than just your arm workouts. If you start your back workout with wide grip bent over barbell rows, your next exercise shouldn’t incorporate a wide grip. Instead, switch it up and use a close grip or medium width grip. Here’s a few options:
- Wide grip
- Close grip
- Medium grip
- Underhand close grip
- Underhand medium grip
- Underhand wide grip
By switching the position of your grip and the placement of your grip, you will target different areas of your back. The purposes of using different grips on different back exercises is to target the entire muscle group.
4. Control your movements
Don’t bounce and used slow, controlled movements. I’m a big advocate of a 1-1-2 tempo. That’s one second on the positive (pulling) movement, 1 second hold at the point of peak contraction, and then 2 seconds on the negative movement. You’ll get more out of this tempo than by swinging, cheating, or throwing the weight around. Now, I’m not against cheating the last few reps to hit your targeted reps. If I’m going to cheat, I’ll make sure that my form is still good, that I get a good hold at the top of the movement, and then use an extended negative motion. In other words, go super slow when lowering the weight to really burn out those back muscles.
If you’re looking for a great back workout that follows this outline, you should try the workout in my book, Body Spartan: Genesis. There’s an entire 12-week workout plan in the book that is guaranteed to get you shredded.