Training Back: Width & Thickness

 

When training the back muscles, it is important to include a variety of exercises to achieve both width and thickness. Here are a few different exercises to try on your next workout.

Cable Lat Pull Downs: 4 sets X 12-15 reps

Using the Precor cable pull down machine with handles allows you to focus more on unilateral development. Grasp the handles and pull the cables down with your palms facing forward and the elbows back.

Tips: Lift the chest as you lower the handles and squeeze the shoulder blades together.  Hold and squeeze at the point of contraction, and release it back up slowly. Make sure to extend fully to the top for a full stretch.

 

Lying T-bar Rows:  3 sets X 12 reps

These are great for adding thickness to your inner back. They are challenging, so hit them early in your workout.

Lift the bar off the rack and extend your arms in front of you.  As you exhale slowly pull the weight up and squeeze your back at the top of the movement.  Inhale and slowly lower the weight back down to the starting position.

Tips: Keep the upper arms as close to the torso as possible in order to better engage the back muscles. Do not lift your body off of the pad at any time. Also try not to use the biceps when lifting the weight.

 

Hammer Strength Iso Lateral High Row: 4 sets X 12 reps

These work the muscles of the upper and middle back (trapezius, rhomboids, and rear deltoids), as well as the latissimus dorsi (for the width of the back). This plate loaded machine also allows you to develop and strengthen both sides of the body equally.

Grasp the handles with an overhand grip and pull down and back lowering the handles toward the seat. Try to keep your chest on the pad. Slowly return to the starting position.

Tips: Maintain good posture throughout the full movement. When pulling back, bring the elbows behind the back for a good squeeze of the back muscles. When returning to the starting position, be sure to fully extend your arms and stretch to the top.

Reverse Grip Machine Rows: 3 sets X 12 reps

Reverse grip rows will incorporate the lower lat fibers, as well as recruiting the middle back and rear deltoids.

Grasp the lower handles with the palms facing up (underhand grip). The chest pad should be in line with the top of the chest. Pull the weight toward your body, squeeze the shoulder blades together toward the end of the range of motion, and return the weight back to the starting position with control.

Tips: When pulling back, keep a neutral wrist and concentrate on allowing your back muscles to do the work. Biceps will be recruited, but the focus should be on your back.

 

Divergent Lat Pull Down: 4 sets X 12-15 reps

Lat pull downs are excellent for creating width in the back. The divergent lat pull down machine is similar to a traditional lat pull down. However the handles move further apart as you pull down, providing a fuller range of motion through the lats.

Pull the bar down toward your chest drawing your elbows back as far as possible. Hold and squeeze at the point of contraction, and extend back up slowly.

Tips: Lift the chest as you pull the handles down. Relax the grip and move the focus to your lats, rather than your forearms or biceps. Be sure to extend fully to the top range of motion to allow for a good stretch through the lats.

 

Superset: Perform 15 reps of both exercises straight through without resting. Rest 30-45 seconds between each set. 3 sets X 15 reps

These exercises isolate the muscles are good finishers to your back workout.

Attach a rope to a high pulley and make your weight selection.

  • Rope Straight-Arm Cable Pulldowns (isolation move for the lats): Stand a couple of feet back from the pulley and take the rope with both hands. Lean forward from the hips, keeping your back straight, with your arms extended up in front of you.
    Keeping your arms straight, extend the shoulders to pull the rope down to your thighs. Pause at the bottom of the motion, squeezing your lats. Return to the starting position.
  •  Face pulls: (for the rear deltoids and middle back) Facing a high pulley with a rope, pull the weight directly towards your face, separating your hands as you do so. Keep your upper arms parallel to the ground.

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