6 Best Goal-Oriented Back Workouts
When it comes to your back, the bigger and thicker it is, the better. Not only does a strong back look better, it will give you a solid strength base to build on.
It doesn’t matter if you’re aspiring to be a competitor or you simply want to get into shape, it is critical to your health and performance to have a solid back. Just because you don’t see your back muscles in the mirror, it is still important to develop your back and keep it at the top of your priorities.
Related - How to Build a Muscular Back
What do people see when they look at your back? Are they surprised to see a thick and rugged slab of beef, or do you suffer from invisible lat syndrome?
prioritizing your back will build bigger lifts, a stronger body, and give you the tools to build a bullet-proof back. Below are six goal-oriented back workouts that you can choose from to meet your needs.
Run one (or more) of these workouts for at least four to six weeks. There are hundreds of back workouts out there — finding one that will help you towards your goal is important.
Check out these six back workouts that will take your upper body to the next level.
Back Workout Notes
The reps and sets you see below do not include any warm-up sets. A proper warm-up will raise your body temperature and get your body primed for exercise.
Start with a manageable weight that you can perform the target rep goal listed in the workout, but make it challenging. It’s easier to start lighter and add weight as you go versus ego lifting.
Focus on maintaining perfect form. Don’t compromise form just to lift more weight — you’re essentially eliminating working that muscle properly and you risk injury.
6 Back Workouts for Every Goal
Build Overall Back Mass
Building pure, raw mass is always a great way to catch lagging back muscles up. You’ll be working hard, heavy, and mostly with free weights.
This routine will be utilizing a rep range of 8-10 with about 90-120 seconds of rest between sets.
For heavy deadlifts, you may need up to three minutes of rest per set.
- Barbell Deadlifts – 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Pull Ups or Lat Pulldowns – 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Bent Over Barbell Rows – 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- T-Bar Row or Seated Machine Rows – 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Build Greater Back Thickness
You may have a thick back, but it may be flat like a desk. If you need to beef up your back and start building a thicker and stronger back, this workout may be for you.
Just like the workout above, you’ll be working in the 8 to 10 rep range and you will mostly be using free weights.
- Barbell Deadlifts – 5 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Overhand Grip Bent Over Barbell Row – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Underhand Grip Bent Over Barbell Row – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- One-Arm Dumbbell Row – 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps per arm
- Seated Wide-Grip Rows – 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps
Build a Wider Back
Getting that V-tapered back is possible if you train properly. This routine focuses on the top of the V which means your upper back. This will require a lot of lat pull-downs and pull-ups.
I would like to say a lot of our looks come from our genes and how our bodies are built — simply having wide clavicles and a narrow waist and hips can make you appear to have a V-taper.
This workout will help you grow your back, no matter what your genes are — the right exercises and training intensity can make a big difference.
For this workout, make sure to use a wider grip than normal. You don’t need to use the widest possible grip, just go a couple inches wider than you normally do.
Using the widest possible eliminates a bit of your range of motion, which is not great for building a wider back.
- Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
- Wide-Grip Seated Rows – 4 sets of 15 reps
- Seated Neutral-Grip Cable Rows – 4 sets of 12 reps
- Wide-Grip Lying T-Bar Row or Bent Over Barbell Rows – 4 sets of 15 reps
Build a Shredded Back
If you already have some mass on your back and you’d like to start refining it, this is the workout for you.
This routine will utilize some high-rep sets and supersets — targeting all parts of your back.
The more body fat you have, the less definition you are going to see. This is why your friend that doesn’t even lift seems to look shredded — they simply have no body fat hiding their muscles.
This routine works best when you focus on the quality of the lift, not just lifting more. Do your best to get the best quality contraction every rep. Slow down your rep tempo down, go full range of motion, and nail your form.
- Close-Grip Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
- One-Arm Seated Cable Rows – 4 sets of 15 reps per side
- Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
- Kneeling Single-Arm High Pulley Row – 4 sets of 12 reps
- Dumbbell Shrugs – 4 sets of 20 reps
- Hyperextensions – 4 sets of 12 reps
- Face Pulls – 5 sets of 15 reps
Protect Your Lower-Back
Some days our back doesn’t feel so hot, but we still have to train. If you’re looking to build a bigger back and using more back-friendly moves, this routine will give that to you.
Lower-back issues are no joke and they can ruin your training. Exercises like bent over rows and deadlifts all pound our lower back — sometimes we have to give it a break.
- Wide-Grip Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets of 12 reps
- Lying T-Bar Rows or Machine – 4 sets of 10 reps
- Close-Grip Lat Pulldowns – 4 sets of 10 reps
- Seated Cable Rows – 4 sets of 15 reps
- Seated Back Extension Machine – 3 sets of 12 reps
Building a Strong Back Foundation
For those of you who are starting out, building a solid strength foundation is important.
Beginners build muscle on a few productive exercises. Don’t get tempted to go heavier and give up form just to try to stroke your ego. Doing this will eventually cause you to stall in progress or get injured — trust me.
Pick weights that challenge you but do not compromise your form. Maintain a higher intensity by keeping your rest periods short and focus on the quality of your reps.
Wrapping It Up
Take the time and build a stronger back. Having a strong back will allow you to do more and produce more power.
As your upper back gets stronger, you may see it directly impacting your bench press in a good way. If that’s not enough to get you training back, I don’t know what is.