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Back Training 101
Back Training 101

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Bodybuilding: Back Training 101

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To build a broad, wide, thickly muscled - spreading lats is the desire of most young bodybuilders. Fortunately for beginners, the lats can be developed easily and quickly, as they respond very rapidly to particular movements. Build yourself a complete and powerful back with this article guide on the total back musculature!

The lats or latissimus dorsi to give them their full name, are the large sweeping muscles that start under your armpits and end low in the middle of your back. They are the muscles that give you that V-shape taper. To build broad, wide-spreading lats is the desire of most young bodybuilders. Fortunately for beginners, the lats can be developed easily and quickly, as they respond very rapidly to particular movements.

Dorian Yates

There are three types of lat muscles — high, medium and full. The first type, the high lats, is the most common among bodybuilders, especially those who perform such exercises that develop the upper part of these muscles such as the wide grip pull-up on the chinning bar. Getting full development of the medium and lower parts of the back is not quite as common as only working the high portions of the lats, but there are many bodybuilders who have worked their asses off to develope full lats development from top to bottom.

A variety of exercises for the lats is most effective and also activates the upper, middle and lower parts of these muscles, all necessary if a full and complete lat development is wanted.

Basic Exercises:

  1. Pullover with barbell.
  2. Bent Over rowing (Barbell or Dumbbell).
  3. Wide grip pull-up to back of neck on chinning bar.
  4. Close grip Pull-ups or Chins
  5. Deadlifits
  6. Seated Cable Rows
  7. Pull down on lat machine - front and back.

Two of the most used movements performed almost exclusively by bodybuilders of the 50's and 60's in building a V-shape and still two of the most effective exercises for the overall lats, are the barbell pullover and bent over rowing motion, which, when using heavy weights, is most effective for massive lats.

Wide grip chins to the back of the neck on the chinning bar develop the ultimate shape of your V. Doing a lot of wide grip chins tends to give you extreme width at the top of your lats, the part right under the armpits. Bring the movement to the front and arch until the bar contacts or targets the middle chest and you will bring this same effect to you middle and lower lats

The pulldowns on lat machines tends to develop a more bunchy looking lats and are beneficial to those wanting to build up more mass under the arms rather than a long V-taper. The pull down should be varied. Several sets should be done seated or kneeling directly under the pulley and pulling down to the back of the neck using a very wide hand spacing on the lat machine handle. Other sets should be done seated away from the machine and the handle pulled to the chest very much as though you were rowing.

The combination of all these movements assures you of a fine symmetrical V-taper. To attain full lat development, you should use a variety of exercises, however, in the process of building the lats you may find one particular exercise more effective than the others. In that case, you should perform more sets of the movements that effect you the best, but always keep a eye on complete back developement.

Complete Back Workouts:

Exercise/ Routine #1 # of Sets # of Reps
Chins 4 sets To Failure
Barbell Bent Rows 5 sets 12-8* reps
Close Grip Pulldowns 4 sets 10-15 reps
T-Bar Rows 4 sets 10-15 reps
Hyperextensions 4 sets 15-20 reps
Exercise/ Routine #2 # of Sets # of Reps
Deadlifts 4-5 sets 4-8 reps
Front Pulldowns 3-4 sets 12-15 reps
Seated Cable Rows 3-4 sets 10-12 reps
Chins 4-5 sets 12-15 reps

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