When building a large muscled frame, proportion is important. Everyone is in awe over a large set of muscular arms and a set of hulking shoulders but how proportionate would this guy look if he had a weak looking back. Back training takes a lot of energy being that it is a large muscle group and doing all those combination moves can really take it out of you, but the rewards are great, especially if you are in awe over a well muscled back such as I am.
An important component of back training is you need to develop a strong lower back, you will need a strong lower back if your planning on throwing some heavy weights around. A good share of back training exercises will put some strain on your lower back so it is imperative that you use proper form and we will be covering any important aspects that you will need to know on how to build a v shaped back in this weight training program.
Laying the foundation
It is essential to work your lower back, good mornings and stiff leg deadlifts are two good exercises for strengthening this area, I would recommend using one of these exercises for at least three sets at the beginning of your back workout, this will not only strengthen your lower back but it will also serve as a good warm up before you get into the heavier part of your workout.
At the beginning of each exercise in your back training program you should perform a lighter set of about 20 repetitions to make sure the muscle I warmed up thoroughly, this would be more the case with your first exercise that you perform as it is necessary to prevent from muscle pulls or worse yet any serious injuries.
Developing the v shape
The v shape is when your back tapers from the waist up (the lateral muscles) the best exercise for developing the lateral muscles is the wide grip chins. Not everyone is ready to jump into this exercise as not everyone can hoist their own weight around and complete full range with good form.
There are ways around this if you have difficulty performing this exercise, one way is you can have someone spot you, they can assist by taking hold of your ankles and applying enough pressure so that you can complete the chin, another way is to place one if not both feet on a bench so you can use your legs to assist in completing the chin, another option is to use a resistance bands that you can hook over the chin bar and hook under your knee.
Wide grip chins
To perform the wide grip chins, grasp a chin bar with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip, palms facing away, while keeping your lower back arched in, pull yourself up so that your upper chest touches the chin bar, hold for a second and slowly lower until your arms are completely stretched out. Getting the full stretch at the bottom of this move is important to get the full benefit of it. Perform the wide grip chins for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
Lat pull downs
Lat pull downs are a good move for developing the lat muscles but with a little more ease as you can adjust the weight to as light as you want. I like to experiment with different hand grips with this exercise, from wide grip to narrow grip to using different types of handles.
To perform the lat pull downs, firmly position your knees under the padded knee supports with a slightly wider than shoulder width grip keeping your lower back arched, slightly lean back while pulling the lat bar to your chest, hold for a second and then lower the weight stack slowly until your arms are at full stretch, perform the lat pull downs for 4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Barbell rows are the most basic muscle building exercise for adding thickness to the back. You will need to exercise care when performing the barbell rows because they do put a little strain on the lower back.
To perform the barbell rows it is best to stand on a bench so that you can get a full stretch at the bottom position, whereas standing on the floor the weights come in contact with the floor keeping you from getting that full stretch. Grab the barbell at a shoulder width grip keeping a slight bend in your knees, pull the bar to your midsection keeping an arch in your lower back, lower the weight slowly until your arms are at full stretch and repeat, perform the barbell rows for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
T bar rows
T bar rows are another good one for adding thickness to the back. With one end of the bar in a fixed position you can lean back slightly taking a little more strain off the lower back and they will stress your muscles at a different angle.
To perform the T bar rows, stand with your feet shoulder width apart with a shoulder width grip, lean slightly back pulling the weight to your midsection, hold for a second and lower slowly. At the bottom of the rows, stretch forward with your arms extended out getting a full stretch throughout your back, perform the T bar rows for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
The dumbbell rows are a great exercise, to do these you are concentrating on one arm at a time and you can get a real good stretch with these. Another advantage with doing this exercise is you are putting less stress on the lower back.
To perform the dumbbell rows you rest your knee on a bench supporting your upper body by placing your hand on the bench, grabbing a dumbbell pull it to your side, hold for a second and then lower slowly. At the bottom position of the row, let the dumbbell sway forward so that you are getting a full stretch in your lat muscle. After you are finished with one side, position yourself for your other arm and repeat, perform the dumbbell rows for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
Cable rows can be a good finishing move for back, it’s also good to add a variety to your workout, instead of just free weights add a combination of weight machines to your workout.
To perform the cable rows, take hold of the handle, generally a palms in grip, pull the handle to your midsection, hold for a second and lower slowly. At the bottom of the position stretch as far forward as you can completely stretching your back, perform the cable rows for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
Barbell shrugs work the trapeze muscles, there is nothing set in stone saying you need to work traps with back, some guys like working traps with shoulders, I have mixed it up to keep workouts from growing stale but for the most part I have done traps with back.
Another good variation to barbell shrugs are dumbbell shrugs, like I have said before it is good to keep a variety going with your training, although doing the barbell shrugs you can use more weight.
To perform the barbell shrugs, hold the barbell in front of your thighs at arms length with Palms facing back, shrug your shoulders up and back using full control never bouncing the weight. I find it’s best to keep looking forward throughout this move, if you turn your head to the side it’s too easy to pull a muscle in your neck, perform the barbell shrugs for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
All these exercises I have laid out are basically a guideline to follow, don’t do all of them in one workout, pick out four of them and you can always switch them around from workout to workout. If you use four of these exercises for four sets each you will have completed a total of 16 sets, that would be a good amount of set’s to follow by for someone a little more advanced in training.
For a beginner I would recommend 2 sets of each for a total of 8 sets, for an intermediate with six months of training under their belt I would recommend 3 sets of each for a total of 12 sets and for advanced 4 sets of each for a total of 16 sets.
Always remember to train smart, don’t take any shortcuts and have patience, sometimes it may seem like it’s taking forever to see the results that you are looking for but with a little persistence you will get there, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if you stick with it you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.