When you’re training the upper back, you’re really training for two goals which are functionally related, but visually different. Back width involves how wide your back appears on the bodybuilding stage. Back thickness involves how big it appears in shots from all angles – or how much it protrudes on every pose. Let’s examine how to train to achieve both objectives.
Barbell rows are the most important movement for adding thickness to your upper back. Dumbbell rows offer a tad more flexibility, allowing you to pull the weight past the point where a barbell would come in contact with the area of your abdomen near the belly button. Despite this – whether it is for the manliness factor or the fact that more weight can be used because fewer stabilizer muscles are employed, the barbell row stands in the front of the class when it comes to back thickness movements.
After completing those two movements, you should find a variety of pulldown machines in the Hammer Strength and Nautilus sections which can help you lift some seriously heavy weight for the upper back without having to balance or control the weight. The fixed arc nature of these exercises means that you will not have to do anything but push. You can either move the weight, or you cannot. It’s that simple.
Finally, the use of close-grip cable movements cannot be neglected. Being able to contract the muscle group the entire duration of the movement keeps continuous tension on the muscle group, which is very good for stimulating greater blood flow.
There is no movement more effective for adding width to the back than the chin-up. They may be a little tough to complete for untrained people or for those bodybuilders weighing anything over 250 pounds. But they need to be completed. If you cannot complete them, spend some time at the assisted chinning machine.
You will be able to remove a small amount, such as 10, 20, 30, or 40 pounds from the bodyweight workload you are pulling. This will allow you to complete full repetitions and strengthen the muscle groups of the back. Soon, you’ll be chinning your body weight with no problem! Aside from chins, very wide-grip lat pulldowns are an excellent movement for adding width to the back. You may find them a bit easier to complete than pull-ups, which as you can expect will mean their results will be less.
However, the ability to reduce the weight, hold contraction, and vary your grip without injury to the back makes this a movement you can’t neglect if the goal is upper back width.
Together, these movements work to help deliver you a back that is both wide and thick. Some bodybuilders will split their days between the two. Others like to combine everything into one mean back day. Whatever your preference, as long as you complete these movement each week, you’ll find yourself an amazing back in no time!
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