Building a wide, thick back can have a huge impact on the overall look of your physique. The famous ‘v-taper’ is appreciated by all – creating the illusion of a small waist and impress size.
In order to achieve this, it is important to target and train different back muscles with a range of exercises.
Read on and find out a little bit more about beginning your back training!
What muscle groups should you be targeting for a bigger back?
✓ Latissimus dorsi
Also known as the lat muscles, situated in the centre of the back. Building bigger lats allows for the ‘V’ tapered structure: something that is particularly desirable in aesthetic gym t
✓ The trapezius
Commonly known as the ‘traps’, situated at the top of the back.
✓ Rear deltoids
Based behind the shoulders, these muscles are usually targeted during shoulders workouts but can be trained during back day too.
Exercise #1 – Barbell Deadlift
Main muscle used: Lower back
One of the more complex exercises, even for back day, and it works the large muscle group in the lower back.
Starting position: (Deadlifting the bar of the floor)
✓ Stand facing loaded barbell with the relevant weight, feet shoulder width apart.
Step by Step:
a) Keeping your back straight, place bar against your shins and bend your knees. Reach down and grasp bar: this should be done with a shoulder-width, overhand grip.
b) Drive up through heels: keep weight central and close to your body. Facing forward, keeping your head in that same position throughout the lift – locking out at the top and keeping lats tensed.
c) On the way back down, keep head in the same position, and the bar as close – allow the bar to brush off the top of your leg to keep weight centred and hold control.
d) Once the weight hits the ground, pause and complete next rep.
Remember: DO NOT arch your back: reduce the weight if this occurs.
It is a difficult exercise, and one which can cause great strain on your back, so be extra careful when performing the barbell deadlift, so concentrate and ensure you’re getting the correct form to prevent any injuries.
For variation, perform a Hypertrophy set. Do five reps, with a 20 second rest, followed by three reps, with another 20 second rest, then two reps, followed by a minute rest.
Sets: 6 Reps: 6
Exercise #2 – Reverse cable flies
Main muscle used: Rear Deltoids
This is a great exercise to work your rear deltoids. Most gyms have cable machines, and you’ll ideally need both sides available to be able to do this exercise.
Step by step:
a) Firstly, adjust the cables so that they are just above your head.
b) Grab the cables with your opposite hands.
c) Keep your arms straight as you extend each cable so that your arms are at completely straight, and slowly return back to your starting position.
d) That is one repetition. If you can only access one side of the cable machine, do as mentioned before, but with one arm at a time.
A variation to this exercise is to this exercise single-arm, while laying down. Use a mat to lay flat on, and perform the exercise with one arm at a time, with the same form as mentioned previously.
Sets: 4 Reps: 8
Exercise #3 – Bent-over barbell row
Main muscles used: Lats, biceps
This an excellent one to utilise mid-workout to really put your back to the test. It also works the shoulders and the biceps too. However, the main muscle work is the lats!
✓ Keep a slight bend in your knees and lean forward, form a 45° between torso and the floor.
✓ Back should remain straight, and chest pushed up with head kept straight.
✓ Again, get a feel for the bar before this exercise, so you can add the appropriate weight.
Step by step:
a) Approach and grab bar with thumbs facing each other – hands placed slightly wider than shoulder width.
b) Pull the weight along thighs up to navel (belly-button). Do not contract biceps forearms.
c) Pull the barbell with your elbows (again, not biceps.)
d) Lift the barbell towards waist then squeeze lower back to get the most of the contraction.
You can vary this exercise by using dumbbells, or even using the cable machine.
Sets: 4 Reps: 6
Exercise #4 – Wide-grip lat pull down
Main muscle worked: Lats
A great exercise for working the lat muscles, and for working towards that V-shaped back.
a) Sit down and adjust the leg cushion to ensure you’re locked in position.
b) After adjusting the weight to suit your strength, pull the bar down, with your palms facing the bar, while placed a couple of inches in the edge of the bar.
c) Pull down to the chin, before slowly returning until your arms are just short of being at a 180 degree angle.
d) Repeat the movement.
For variation, you can adjust your grips, by holding the bar narrower, with your palms underneath the bar, and this will also work your biceps.
Sets: 4 Reps: 8
Take Home Message
Incorporate these exercises into your workout routine – whether that be a full-body workout to start off with or as part of a split-muscle day.
Enjoy your training!