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Tips for a Great Back Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles Written by Matt Canning Tips for a Great Back

Tips for a Great Back

Of course we all know what everybody wants to achieve in bodybuilding - a great chest, washboard abs and big guns. Arnold Schwarzenegger had all of those things and that is one of the reasons why he's loved in bodybuilding. But the truth is, that isn't where the muscle lies (well, other than chest). In all honesty, it's the back that contains the most potential for muscle mass. Your lats, trapezius and spinal erectors cover the most area and have the most potential to contain the maximum amount of muscle tissue. Backs are also what bodybuilding has been about for the past 20 years or so. Take the Mr. Olympia contest for example. For the past 20 years, since Lee Haney became champion, the contest has been one on the basis of a huge back. Even Samir Bannout had an exceptional back, with crisp conditioning highlighting his christmas tree. Backs are important - they have become less underrated as time has gone on, and now it's time that you should consider back training as a prime importance in your training. Below are some exercises, tips, and sample back training splits that can work for you in your quest to develop a muscular back:


Deadlifts are a great exercise for the back. They work muscles other than just your back, but they specifically work the lower back. Deadlifts are a great compound movement for power. As a tip - focus on form. REALLY focus on form. Deadlifts are not the type of exercise you want to take any chances with. If your form slips for another exercise, the injury may not be the worst thing in the world - but a back injury is very debilitating. That is something you want to avoid at all costs. Perform deadlifts in front of a mirror or with a training partner. By doing so, your form can be assessed and you can adjust for any errors with each rep. Also, it might be a good idea to apply the Pre-Exhaust Principle while performing deadlifts. What this means is you should perform the rest of your back exercises before deadlifts. By doing so, you perform deadlifts last and ensure your back is worked during the deadlift, because less emphasis is placed on the thighs and hips.


Hyperextensions are a great exercise to strengthen your back and prepare it for a variety of other exercises, including barbell rows, deadlifts and squats. Hyperextensions work the lower region of your spinal erectors. You perform hyperextensions by crunching your ribcage toward your pelvis, then come back in the same range of motion. By doing this, you keep tension on your lumbar region constantly. You can also perform hyperextensions with weight. With or without weight is fine and only you can be a judge of what level you're at, and if weight is appropriate.

Seated Cable Rows

Some bodybuilders swear by the free weights, but a machine can help too, at times. Seated cable rows stress your lower lats and your inner back. It is important to let your shoulders and upper back come forward at the start of every repetition without leaning forward too much. Get a maximum stretch and avoid performing this motion thanks to momentum. Use of your arms is important in this lift, but don't let your arms do the lift for you. Feel the stress in your back throughout the entire range of motion.

Barbell Rows

The barbell row is a meat and potatoes exercise for the lats. One of Dorian Yates favourites, and look at the back he built! This is a very basic lift and will do your back good. A lot of good. Barbell rows add thickeness to the lats and other muscles of the upper back. To get a full range of motion, you can stand on a block. Your knees should remain bent and locked while you perform the movement. Keep your back mostly still, and let your shoulders come forward with the start of each repetition. Pull all the way into your upper abdomen.

Chin Ups

Why use the lat pulldown machine when you have chin ups? Chin ups are another very simple exercise because all you need is a bar. Lift up, and back down. Shoot for as many reps as you can handle, and hold a weight during the exercise if you want.

Some Sample Routines

Sample Routine #1
Body Part Exercise Sets Reps
Upper Back Chin Ups 3 Failure
Upper Back Barbell Rows 4 12,12,10,8
Lower Back Deadlifts 4 12,12,10,8

Sample Routine #2
Body Part Exercise Sets Reps
Upper Back Seated Cable Rows 4 12,12,10,8
Upper Back Barbell Rows 4 12,12,10,8
Lower Back Hyperextension 4 12,12,10,8

Good luck with your training. Keep a positive attitude, eat right and train hard, and as long as you own a mirror - you'll see results.

Take care,

Matt Canning

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