How To Build A Big Back
Other than the legs, I would say that the back is the most neglected body part by men in gyms across the country. Guys have no problems doing an endless amount of sets and exercises for the showy muscles (i.e. chest, arms, shoulders, and abdominals), but tend not to exert the same effort when it comes to the back and legs. It’s certainly not surprising considering how brutal a heavy set of squats and deadlifts can be.
But building a strong back is important for several reasons. First, it will improve your posture. For example, the next time you are out in public note the number of guys with poor posture. Usually they will have a distinct, hunched over appearance. A weak upper back combined with an overdeveloped chest and shoulders is likely the culprit. In this case having a strong upper back will help to “lift” your chest up and eliminate the exaggerated curve in your spine. As an added bonus, when you have proper posture you also look taller so it’s win-win.
Secondly, a well built back will enhance the effect of your v-taper. For the guys out there that don’t naturally have a wide frame, adding width to their back (combined with trimming down at the waist) will help them achieve that v-taper look that is so imminently masculine.
Lastly, having a well built back will help you score chicks. It will make you stand out from a sea of curl jockeys. Now I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass and tell you chicks will be dropping their panties at the sight of your well built rhomboids, but having a well built body is NEVER a negative, plain and simple.
Now that you know the reasons for building up your back, I’m sure you’re wondering how to go about doing it. First off, any gym rat knows the importance of deadlifts and chins so I’m not going to belabour the point on those exercises beyond the fact that you should be doing them. However, one exercise that has not garnered nearly as much attention is the heavy, high rep dumbbell row.
A heavy, high rep dumbbell row is the perfect addition to your back routine. I first came across these a few years ago while reading some articles over at elitefts. Credit goes to powerlifter Matt Kroczaleski for popularizing the movement. Matt had discovered that when he included a heavy, high rep dumbbell row into his routine that his upper back strength improved tremendously, which in turn improved the lockout portion of his deadlift. Since his popularization of the movement, a heavy, high rep dumbbell row (aka a Kroc Row) has now become a staple in many lifters’ routines with much success.
A simple and effective way to add Kroc Rows to your routine would be as follows:
Deadlifts: Working up to a heavy single, double or triple or 5×5
Weighted Chins: 2-3 sets of 5-10 reps (vary the grip if you want).
Kroc Rows: 1-2 sets of 15+ reps. 15 reps here is really the bare minimum. Guys were doing as many as 20+ reps.
Do this 2x per week (although I would vary the intensity on the deadlifts with one lighter session and one heavier session in the week).
That’s it, a simple, no nonsense routine for building a solid back. Forget about all the pulley and cable work. Break your ass on just those three exercises and you won’t have much gas in the tank for anything else. You don’t need to water down your routine with useless exercises and half assed reps. Hack away at the inessential.
How to do a Kroc row (note the intensity):
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