A defined “V taper” is something that most people strive for, but not all achieve.
As everything, it requires a lot of effort and dedication, and the right set of exercises.
In this article I have compiled some of the most effective exercises both bodyweight, and weighted that you can use to create the best back workouts for mass.
On the other hand, many beginners tend to overlook or botch any sort of back work as it isn’t a muscle that you can easily see in the mirror.
But as cool as having big chest and defined, round biceps may be, working on your lats, trapezius, rhomboids and lumbar muscles, are just as cool, and also essential.
Your back is what holds and protects you vertebrae from the rear, along with other, deeper muscles that stabilize your spine.
Not only is it important to have a strong back to support your spine, but you also want to have a well balanced routine in terms of pushing, and pulling.
Posture and shoulder rounding is affected not only by weak rear deltoids or tight pectoral muscles, but also from having an imbalanced routine which causes your pushing muscles to pull your shoulders forward, as a price of under developing your back or, pulling, muscles.
Anatomy of the back
Here are the main muscle groups will be focusing on in this article. Build these and you will have a strong and defined back.
- The rear Deltoids are key in developing a healthy posture and avoid forward rounding of the shoulders.
- The Erector spinae is a group of muscles that has for one of its functions to provide support to the spine.
- The Rhomboids ( Small typo in the reference image ), work to retract the scapula (shoulder blade) .
- The Latissimus dorsi is responsible for extension, adduction, transverse extension also known as horizontal abduction, flexion from an extended position, and (medial) internal rotation of the shoulder joint.
- The Trapezius is responsible for moving, rotating, and stabilizing the scapula and extending the head at the neck.
The most scientifically proven most effective exercises that should be part of your best back workouts for mass and will allow you to build an impressive back. Let’s begin two major with compound multi-joint movements as they are the most effective, and should be prioritized over single joint, isolation movements.
I have already spoken about the important role pull ups play and why they should be one of your main focuses on your pulling movements in various different articles. They are highly effective whether you want to build strength, mass, endurance, or even explosive power if done the right way. You can get almost endless resistance through bodyweight training variations alone, or, you can also render the movement more difficult with the use of a weight vest or dip belt.
This exercise should be included in all best back workouts for mass. If it isn’t, you’re missing out, immensely.
Saying the deadlift is a highly effective exercise would be putting it lightly. You can trace it’s first usage in illustrations dating from the mid 1700’s and it has remained a king of compound exercises since then.
The deadlift is a whole body exercise utilizing way over 25 different muscles in unison to lift that bar off of the ground.
This exercise will allow you to pack on muscle through your entire body, and build an impressive amount of pulling, pushing, and grip strength. However, as much as this is an incredible exercise, it comes with risks if not done properly.
There are hundreds of videos out there that feature people dead lifting way too much weight, weigh that they aren’t ready for yet, with a horrible rounding of the lower back.
Unless you want several herniated discs, don’t be that person. Warm up properly, and work with weight you can mange with perfect form.
Pair this with the pull ups and you’re set for a thick, wide set of lats.
You can perform bodyweight rows on rings or a bar in s squat rack. To keep challenging yourself with this movement, gradually place yourself underneath the ring anchor point, lower the bar, place your feet on a chair, perform 1 arm rows, or simply add weight.
You can also move on to tuck rows later on, fully removing any leg assistance.
An important part of any best back workouts for mass, weighted rows are a powerful lat builder. See the video for an explanation on three different row variations; the one arm dumbbell row, the barbell row, and the one arm cable row.
Each exercise here has it’s own set of pros and cons so it’s up to you to decide which one you want to do for the best results.
Ring rear delt flies
A simple yet effective exercise to improve your posture and give some work to the often overlooked rear deltoids.
This one will make you feel the burn very quickly so pick a difficulty ( placement in relation to the rings’ anchor point ) that you can complete around 15 full reps with.
I personally love doing this exercise at the end of my workout routine to finish of my rear delts, especially as it is an isolation movement; I don’t have to go too hard and it’s still relatively easy to do even after an intense pull up and deadlift session.
Weighted rear delt flies/pulls
The weighted variant of the delt flies. Don’t go to heavy on these and perform them with the best form possible if you want to get the most of your training. Here are a few different exercises you can do.
Bodyweight back extension
If you don’t want to deadlift, this is a great alternative to target that lumbar area.
They are also a great accessory exercise after deadlifts and squats. If you have a week lower back, you are more likely to have back pain; strengthening these and the deeper erector spinae muscles helps give better spine and pelvis support.
Don’t neglect your lower back and reserve a three to four sets of these for your back or lower body workout.
Reps, sets and rest
As the aim here is to build a wide, strong back, we are going to follow the basic hypertrophy rep ranges for the pull ups, rows, and back extensions:
- 6 to 12 reps
- 3 to 5 sets
- 60 to 90 seconds rest times
For the deadlift, as it is usually done with heavier weight, and is a complete body exercise and heavy CNS (central nervous system) recruiter, I would advise against doing 5 sets of 12 reps, and aim for something more like 3 to 5 sets of 3 to 6 reps.
For isolation exercises like the rear delt flies; aim for 2 to 3 sets of 15 reps.
The best back workouts for mass
So now that we have gone over the different exercises you can perform to develop your back, how would these look when integrated into one complete workout routine ?
Exercise 1: Deadlift – 3 sets of 3 to 6 reps
Exercise 2: Pull ups – 5 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Exercise 3: Rows – 5 sets of 6 to 10 reps
Exercise 4: Lower back extensions – 3 sets of 10 reps
Exercise 5: Rear delt flies – 3 sets of 15 reps
Do this on your back days, or as part of your pull routine. This workout was created to be as complete for your back development as possible but you can take exercises out to add to your own routine, or alter this one, as you wish. Don’t forget to implement proper recovery and a caloric surplus to boost your muscle and strength gains.
Best Back Workouts For Mass – Conclusion
Hopefully by now you are more familiar with the impressive anatomy of your back, and how the muscles function together. With that knowledge you can combine the hands down most efficient exercises for back growth in strength in muscle listed above, to optimize your workout routine, all whilst taking account of resting periods, repetitions, and sets.
Now that you have read this, are there any exercises that you haven’t tried yet? If so, which ones are you planning to add to your workout routine? Feel free to comment below if you think I’ve left out something that deserves to be in this list, or if you have any general feedback or questions. Let’s get a discussion going!