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Back Training: Why Do You Wuss Out?

When it comes to the back, it is more often than not the make- or- break feature of any bodybuilder. When the competitors hits the stage and face their backs to the judges, quickly every judge knows who does and doesn’t belong. A great back is the true mark to a champion physique, yet many wuss their way through their back training every time.

What’s the Bread & Butter?

  • Bent Over Barbell Rows
  • Pull-ups
  • T-bar Rows (not the machine/bench version, good old fashion bar from the floor
  • Deadlifts, both from the floor or rack
All of these lifts listed are a must if you want a quality back. Many of these lifts have variations. For example, barbell rows can be performed with both an overhand and underhand grip for a completely different stimulation.

Do I Have To Use All Of These?

No, but the more you incorporate them into your training the far better your results will be. These are the lifts that are most responsible for thickness, they are the lifts most responsible for phenomenal width, so the only question is: WHY AREN’T YOU USING THEM? The answer is simple, they are hard, they hurt, and they will beat your ass into the ground every time! No one said building your back to monstrous proportions would be easy, there is nothing easy about bodybuilding in the first place.

The Great Backs!

Looking at the more modern era in competitive bodybuilding names like Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman are men who possess thick backs. Examine their training. Yates has many times credited his back detail to barbell rows. In fact, he made the underhanded grip more popular than ever. Big Ronnie, is argued by many to have the best back to ever grace the stage, and it’s no surprise; the words deadlifts and Ronnie Coleman are often spoken side by side. What about the guys on stage now? Victor Martinez -- how many times do you need to read or hear him say “Pull-ups” are what brought his back into the money? Never heard him say it? Pick up any magazine on any shelf and if Vic mentions back training, ten times out of ten pull-ups will be on the tip of his tongue.

The Unsung Hero

Deadlifts: They hurt like no other, you will get dizzy, you will at times get nauseated, and you will be completely drained! Your hands will hurt, your shins will be bruised and busted, your spine will nearly pop out of its skin, but you will provide unbelievable stimulation, you will build thickness like no other and you will be well on your way to the back you want and deserve!

Back Workouts

Sample I:

  • Wide Grip Pull-ups: 4 sets 8-12 reps each
  • Bent-Over Barbell Rows: 3 sets 6-12 reps each, 1 set triple drop set
  • Reverse Wide Grip Seated Rows superset w/DB Row: 3 sets 8-12 reps on each
  • Deadlifts: 3 sets 6-10 reps each

Sample II:

  • Reverse Grip Barbell Rows superset with Close Grip Pull-Downs: 3 sets 8-12 reps each
  • T-Bar Rows: 4 sets 6-10 reps each, 1 set triple drop set
  • Dumbbell Pullovers: 3 sets 10-15 reps each
  • Elevated Pull-ups: 3 sets 10-12 reps each



  • When they get too easy, simply add weight. If your gym doesn’t have one, invest in a belt that allows you to attach weight.
  • Lower your body slowly for a full stretch. Don’t jerk, and contract at that top.
  • Mix up the grip/hand positioning. Try specialty grips where your palms are facing each other an inch or two apart.
  • Hold the top portion for at least a second

Barbell Rows:

  • Lower the weight slowly and contract hard at the top.
  • Mix up between overhand and underhand grips.
  • Make sure your bent over far enough, standing too tall is a waste of time and energy.

T-Bar Rows:

  • As with BB rows, bend over far enough, standing too tall is a waste of time and energy.
  • Make sure you pull the weight all the way to the top.


  • Avoid alternating grips with one hand facing up and the other down. This can put undue stress on your rotator cuffs and neck. If you are maxing or lifting for competition an exception can be made, but as a general rule it is best to avoid
  • Drop your butt every single time before you pull the weight to ensure your spine is aligned correctly.
  • Use the Rack! You do not have to perform all your deadlifts off the floor. You may find that you get just as good of a back workout by using the rack.

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