Whether it’s near perfect symmetry you’re after, or simply packing some stack on, there are several approaches which you can use when it comes to building a big, thick, muscular back. There are so many great exercises you have at your disposal; so many instructional videos on Youtube of the latest new-fangled gimmick, that sometimes we lose sight of the wood, for the trees. I’m sure you’re familiar with the acronym ‘KISS’. Keep It Simple Stupid! Sometimes you just have to look inside the box a little and get good at the most basic exercises, cause herein lies some of our favourite gems when it comes to building a big back.
The King Of Back Exercises
What you want to look for when training the muscles of the back (and there are many) is what is going to really give you the best bang for your buck. I.e get you stronger, bigger, faster etc.. To my mind there’s one real king, that stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that is the humble Chin-Up/Pull-up. Who would have thought something so simple and pure could provide some of the best results we have seen in the gym. The Chin-up is a Vertical Pull, which is only one dimension to consider when training the back, but if I were on a desert island, and it were the only tool available to me, I would pick it 100 days out of 100.
Why, because it is more challenging than 90% of other exercises, 90% more flexible than other exercises and 90% more likely to make you a stronger, more-rugged-looking BADASS than 90% of other exercises. That’s a pretty good reason to do them in my book!
Think about it, how many chin-ups can you do? Not ‘kipping’ pull-ups or any such bastardised variation. How many ‘real’ chin-ups/pull-ups can you do? I would say 20 is a good target for anyone to be able to perform. If you can do this then I bet you have a killer pair of lats on you. You have countless variations of chin-ups/pull-ups which means more ways to develop some serious muscle, and of course strength. You can check out some of our favourites at Strength & Performance here and here.
Other Back Exercises
Of course if you’re serious about developing all other areas of your back, you’re going to want to be hitting some form of horizontal row, such as a Barbell Inverted row, Ring Recline Row, Dumbbell Chest Supported Row etc. And the chances are you will need a good heavy compound lift such as a traditional Dead Lift or RDL to develop some spinal erectors that Hercules himself would be jealous of. And if you want to get yourself some traps then I suggest Barbell shrugs in a shoulder complex with some Dumbbell rear delt raises and maybe some lat raises thrown in for good measure. I’m not suggesting you only do chins, but they certainly get my vote when it comes to best back exercises. Give some of those variations a try and see how you get on.