Recently I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I was able to develop a thicker and stronger back in a matter of a couple of months.
What I did was give them a simple run down on what I did but lucky for you I’m going to write up a detailed outline on exactly what went down.
So enough dilly dallying, lets get down to why you started reading this post.
“I Made Deadlifts A Staple in my Training”
The first thing I did to begin my quest to a bigger back is I made Deadlifts a staple in my training.
I deadlifted every workout, only going near max weight for one workout and then stayed near 75-80% of my 1RM for the other days.
Doing this added a lot of volume to my back forcing it to grow (and what do you know, it did just that)
But deadlifts aren’t the only exercise I started using more of.
I Also Added Barbell Rows
Now before I start preaching about BB rows I feel like I should tell you why I used to avoid this exercise just in case its the same reason you’re avoid it.
When I was younger I used to suffer from lower back pain (I believe it was caused by a hyperactive right glute. The reason I think this is, is because every time my lower back started to hurt I would do a figure 4 stretch, instantly my lower back pain went away. For a short while at least)
Well anyways, my lower back pain was the reason I avoided barbell rows. My lower back couldn’t support the load of the bar during the lift, so instead of fixing the problem I avoided potential gains
So how did I fix the pain while increasing my lower back strength?
I started doing chest supported T-bar rows, this started hitting my upper back hard while avoiding any added strain to my lower back.
I would stretch and foam roll my glutes every workout, trying to lessen the hyperactivity in my right glute. (by the way having a hyperactive muscle just means that your brain is sending more signals to that muscle making it tighter and less mobile)
Then I would add glute bridges and planks to the end every workout. These two exercises were the icing on the cake cause without them my lower back wouldn’t have gotten stronger.
Why glute bridges and planks you ask?
Well glute bridges activate the muscles necessary to support you while performing the barbell row. By performing this exercise you directly strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Now that’s a triple threat.
After a couple of months of chest supported rows, glute bridges, planks, stretching and foam rolling, my lower back pain went away and I felt ready to start adding barbell rows into my routine.
When I first started using barbell rows I would perform high reps, usually stopping before hitting 10 reps (12 reps is the highest I go, so 10 reps counts as high reps for me)
As my lower back got stronger from performing BB rows I started increasing the weight and decreased the reps, this is when I really felt my back muscle working and engaging.
This style of training is for myofibril hypertrophy, which is the kind of mass I was going for.
Pull ups also became my best friend
I have always been good at pull ups. Even as a skinny weakling.
3 years ago when I maxed out on the pull up bar I was able to get 21 reps without stopping.
Yea…I was surprised as well.
From that day on, pull ups become one of my favorite exercises and is part of why my back got so big so quick.
If you’re not performing pull ups, START
If you CAN’T perform pull ups start with inverted rows and progress up until you feel ready to start pulling vertically. At this point what I usually have my clients do is perform negatives one day and then do assisted pull ups a couple of days after that.
After a while you’ll be able to perform pull ups without assistance. You might not be able to get high reps but work your way up and you’ll get there.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Lastly adding scarecrows and band pull aparts
There’s a reason why these exercises are last on my list
Now don’t get me wrong
Scarecrows and band pull aparts are great exercises and I love doing them, but if you’ve just started training and have mediocre numbers in you deadlift
Avoid scarecrows and band pull aparts (unless you have an injury and are performing these exercises as your rehab protocol)
Why you ask?
Well simple, if you’re new to lifting you want to avoid isolation exercises.
That’s exactly what scarecrows and band pull aparts are. They isolate the rear delts
Which is all fine and dandy but as a beginner you’ll get a more bang for your buck if you stay with compound movements that work more than one muscle at a time. And like I mentioned above, deadlifts hit your upper back super hard.
So before adding these two exercises to your routine, concentrate on dominating the deadlift. Get your number (weight) up and your back will follow.
Only after you’ve been lifting for a while and you feel like your deadlift is at a solid weight should you start adding scarecrows and band pull aparts.
The benefits of a stronger back
Everyone can benefit from a stronger and bigger back.
To start with, very few people actually have a strong back. Most of us suffer from a forwards shoulder lean posture.
Which is due to a stronger chest than back and can lead to developing an even worse posture like a kyphotic spine (hunchback).
A stronger back will lead to healthier shoulders. By developing a stronger back you can reverse your forward shoulder lean posture and bring your shoulders back into alignment.
Also who the hell looks more alpha then a guy with a thicker and stronger back? No one.
So there you go. I just outlined exactly what I did to achieve a bigger back.
But there’s one more thing I also recommend doing, something that you probably aren’t doing now.
Foam rolling your entire back.
Yup, from you upper back all the way down to your lower back and everything in between.
What I like doing is taking a foam roller and rolling out my back for about a minute. Making sure I concentrate on my rhomboids by hugging myself and opening up my scapula’s.
After, I get a lacrosse or tennis ball and do the same thing to my rhomboids. I make sure I get deep into the scapula. Its painful, but it’s a good kind of pain (call me weird).
I hope you enjoyed today’s article. If you’re looking to increase the size of your back and get it strong as hell. Look no further, try out the things I laid out in this article and let me know your results.
Talk to you later,