The back muscles are some of the biggest and strongest on your body. There are also smaller muscle groups all around your back that play a role in how your back looks overall. Variety is key when it comes to back training, and its always best to try new exercises and angles to get the most out of your back development. Here are some of my favorite exercises for building a big back.
The back and shoulders decide how well your V-taper is. This is basically the difference in width from your waist to your shoulders. What we want is big shoulders and lats going down to a small waist forming the letter “V”. The best way to achieve this is to do exercises that widen the back. These would be wide grip lat pulldowns (on a cable machine), pull ups and anything else you can think of that you perform with a wide grip. These will make you look wide from the front.
The other aspect in back training is the back thickness. This makes your back look big from the side. Where as vertical pulling movements give you width, horizontal pulling movements give your back its thickness. Barbell rows, single arm dumbbell rows and machine rows are all excellent excercises to build your back thickness. If your gym has other horizontal back movement machines that you can take advantage of, feel free to do so. Variation and trying new exercises are key for building any muscle, not just your back.
We can’t talk about the back without mentioning the deadlift. If you are not deadlifting, you are missing out on some crazy back development. All the smaller mid back muscles are hit when doing this movement, and it will build thickness along with width for overall back development. Remember, as on all these exercises, do not sacrifice form for heavier weight! Pick something that you can perform 8-12 reps with with good form, squeezing the back at the top of the movement. If you are just doing 1 -3 reps with your max weight you will not get as much out of it in terms of putting on size as you would by lightening the weight and controlling the movement.
This is a great time to talk about Weight Lifting Belts. Especially when deadlifting, you want to put on a belt as soon as the weight gets a little too heavy. This is particularly true for people new to the gym. It is too easy to hurt yourself as a beginner not to get the belt. They help support you so you will be more safe in your lower back. Not to mention wearing a belt will definitely help you move more weight. Make sure you do not get a cheap one that can rip easily. Check out our selection of Weight Lifting Belts and pick out a quality belt and get those gains!
The common mistake I see is people going too heavy on the deadlift. Remember that muscle building is about reps and control, so apply this to deadlifting just like any other workout. Keep your back straight or arched, but never bunched over. If you are bending at your back even slightly it means the weight is too heavy and you can seriously hurt yourself. I’m not saying going heavy is bad, but make sure to do a mix of heavy weight with controlled lighter weight for maximum results.
Deadlifts are great for anyone as it not only adds size to your muscles, but gives you strength that translates into a lot of other lifts. No matter which back workout you chose to do, keep the weights light enough so that you can get a good stretch and a good squeeze on the muscle. This especially applies to training with cable machines.