The key to more back mass is angles and variety.
Of course, everyone knows that pull-ups are one of the best exercises for building width in the lats. When incorporating more pull-ups into your routines, you have many options. You can change the width of your grip, overload the movement with a weight belt, or even the grip component by wrapping a towel around the bar. The goal is to attack the bar from many different angles.
Pull-ups are a beast exercise, no doubt.
But don’t forget about high rep lat pulldowns and bent over rows. Both have a ton of different variations, not only to hit different angles, but also to keep to jack up the intensity of the set. For lat pulldowns, lowering the weight on the stack and continuing with a dropset or moving your hands out wider on the bar (snatch grip) for bent over rows can make both exercises much tougher.
Other keys to getting a wider back:
1. Don’t forget the rear and side delts – Packing more mass onto the side delts with tons of dumbbell laterals and building out the posterior delts with flye variations, will give your shoulders a wider look; which will carryover to the overall width of your entire upper body and make your back look wider.
2. Lose body fat – Shedding some excess flab around your midsection will make your waist smaller and give the appearance of a much more pronounced v-taper. Throwing in a couple cardio sessions in the morning, saving your starches until after your workout, and training your core hard, will go a long way in making your back have a wider appearance.
3. Push the volume – dropsets, supersets, giant sets, reps-based sets are all great ways to get a lot of volume in, in a short amount of time. Use mechanical advantage dropsets—giant sets combining various exercises of descending difficulty targeting the same muscle group—to go to new levels of intensity in your back training.
1. Pull-ups x 8 reps
2. Seated Cable Rows x 12 reps
3. Straight Arm Pulldowns x 20 reps
The bottom line is, whenever you increase the intensity of your workouts, good things happen when you’re trying to build more muscle.
To jumpstart any lagging muscle group, you have to change something. You have to push the intensity of the workout and vary the exercises you are using to start stimulating new muscle growth.
Training your arms at the end of your workouts is a very common pre-exhaustion technique used by many bodybuilders. But if you’re having trouble getting more size, you might want to try and put your arm work at the beginning of the workout. You’ll be able to use heavier weights for each exercise and you’ll also be able to push harder because you’re fresh.
You could also throw in an extra arm-only day during the week. This session will help you to really focus on getting some heavy volume in and allow you to incorporate different exercises.
You could also try to push the volume with one of our favorite workouts to annihilate the bi’s and tri’s utilizing a rising bar ladder.
The rising bar ladder is a progressive set where the reps go up as the sets go on. Lighter weights are used and the form is really precise. You are going to place a lot of focus on making sure you lower the weights at a slower, more controlled pace. For example, the bicep curls will be lowered slowly for a count of 3-5 seconds and then you will curl the bar as fast as you can. For the tricep extensions, you will perform the reps as hard and as fast as you can in both directions.
The combination of the slow controlled repetitions (barbell bicep curls) with the fast, explosive reps (tricep extensions) will create a serious pump and force your arms to start growing again.
The workout is brutal and will make your arms explode.
Diesel Arm Annihilation:
Set 1: 10 bicep curls* x bar only supersetted with 20 band resisted** tricep extensions
Set 2: 20 bicep curls x bar only supersetted with 40 band resisted tricep extensions
Set 3: 30 bicep curls x bar only supersetted with 60 band resisted tricep extensions
Set 4: 40 bicep curls x bar only supersetted with 80 band resisted tricep extensions
Set 5: 50 bicep curls x bar only supersetted with 100 band resisted tricep extensions
* The key is to lower bar under control for 3-5 count and curl it as hard as you can
** A cable stack can be substituted for the elastic band. Pump out these reps fast.
Meet the Lift Doctor
Jim Smith is a highly respected, world-renowned strength and conditioning coach. A member of the LIVESTRONG.com Fitness Advisory Board, Jim has been called one of the most “innovative strength coaches” in the fitness industry. Training athletes, fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors, Jim has dedicated himself to helping them reach “beyond their potential.” He is also the owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning in Elmira, NY.