The Ultimate Back Training Guide

Just a quick reminder that nutrition is also key to all weight training. Getting enough protein and enough calories will ultimately determine whether your back will grow or not.

If you neglect protein requirements and do not get enough overall calories (calorie surplus) then this guide will be a waste of time. If you need help calculating this calorie surplus, go here.

If you are in a calorie surplus and getting enough protein… read on!

It is really the same story when it comes to building a great set of back muscles. It’s about getting off almost all of the machines and isolation exercises, and getting onto heavy compound movements such as the deadlift.

And when I mean “heavy,” I am referring to adding enough weight to produce between 5 to 7 repetitions. Avoid high rep training. And because progressive overload is also the key — you must focus on trying to add weight to the bar, or exercise, from week to week.

The Back Workout

You will begin your “back day” with deadlifting, wherever possible.

The reason is that deadlifting is one of the most powerful exercises you can do for your back.

And ignore everyone that says that it is bad for your lower back and is prone to injury. Like any exercise, performed with incorrect form and technique will lead to a disaster happening.

This is where you really need to have someone show you how to deadlift with correct form and technique.

If you are sustaining a lower back injury then you shouldn’t deadlift. Otherwise, everyone should be deadlifting.

Deadlifting is challenging — when done correctly! So you only need to do them once per week. Here is an outline of how you should structure your back workouts.

Basic Back Training Structure

  • Start with deadlifting
  • Train back muscles once per week (you can do twice)
  • 3 minute rest between sets
  • 5 to 7 reps per set
  • 8–10 sets per workout (for all back exercises added together)

Exercise Choice

The following are some of the most effective exercises you can perform to grow your back! The exercises are clickable to demonstration videos.

So an outstanding back workout trains all of the muscles in your back — upper and lower!

This is how I would typically program my “back day”

1. Conventional Deadlift

Starting with warm-up sets. Do not attempt the working sets unless you have first completed the dynamic warm-ups.

Once I complete the warm-up sets on the deadlift. I will start doing “work” sets with the conventional deadlift.

Work sets: 3 sets @ 5 to 7 rep each (with 3 minutes rest between sets)

2. T-bar row

Work sets: 3 sets @ 5 to 7 rep each (with 3 minutes rest between sets)

3. Wide-grip pull-ups

Work sets: 3 sets @ 5 to 7 rep each (with 3 minutes rest between sets)

That is pretty much it. The exercises I have chosen have targeted my lower and upper back. There is not much else when it comes to programming a really effective back workout. It will be a hard workout. I can assure you — 3 sets of deadlift at 5 to 7 reps each will absolutely hit your back! The T-bar Rows and Pull-Ups work to compliment the benefits of deadlifting.

Keep the rest period around 3 minutes and emphasise heavy weight — enough to complete 5 to 7 repetitions. When you can achieve 7 repetitions, move up in weight by 5 pounds or 2.5 kg.

Closing Thoughts

You only really need to do 3 exercises from the exercise list above, with the first exercise being deadlifts. The other 2 exercises are really your choice.

Yes, there are exercises on that list which will emphasise different areas of your back. But essentially, they are all excellent “back building” exercises.

Unless you are training to be a bodybuilder, then you’d require a much more structured approach to back training to ensure correct symmetrical growth of your back muscles.

Don’t forget to get enough volume! So 8 to 10 sets using 3 exercises from the exercise list. And between 5 to 7 repetitions per set.

I hope this is helpful. Let me know how you go :)