Building muscle is something that a huge number of exercisers want to achieve, and it’s a great thing to do. Weight training has a tonne of benefits, but looking to improving your back, in particular, is something that a lot of people A) don’t want to think about, and B) forget about. That’s something that needs to be changed and doing some of the best ways to build yourself a bigger, wider and stronger back. It’s a serious feat of strength and muscle ripe for the picking.

Building a bigger and wider back just like any other muscle though is a really tough thing to do. You need to seriously optimise your training to get the best hypertrophy you can and to do that you need the best exercises. To do that, you need to know exactly where and how to hit it, plus all of the behind the scenes stuff too. There’s a huge amount of work that goes into it.

Back composition

Close up image of back muscles

The first place we need to look when trying to get a bigger rack is what actually makes up your back in the first place. It's all good trying to find the best back exercises you can, but the word best is something that's easily opinionated. It can mean different things to different people.

To find the best exercises for size, in particular, you need to know which muscles to hit and the best ways to do that. That's what we're here to start with. Generally, speaking, we need to focus on 3 main muscles here:

  1. Latissimus dorsi
  2. Rear Deltoids
  3. Mid Back

All three of these have a massive impact on the size of your back, and as a result of that, they’re where most of our efforts need to be.

Lats

The lats are the biggest muscles in the back, so it makes total sense that for trying to get a bigger back, these are the place to start. In fact, they should definitely be getting the most of your efforts since they affect so many different exercises too.

Rear Delts

On a much smaller scale but still taking a chunk of your back, we need to take a look at the rear delt muscles too. These are a bit of a strange one to use as they can fit into both shoulders and back, but make sure you pick one and stick with it for consistency in your training plan. Once you have them set, make sure you're giving these thee attention they need too. They're a complicated thing on their own, and they have their own best exercises.

Mid Back

Thirdly, we have your mid-back. This is the section that won’t be particularly effective for getting a wider back, but will still help your back strength, definition, and support you in all of your other training too. You need to be using all areas of your back after all if you want to maximise your progress.

Don’t Forget: Lower back, Traps and Biceps

Before we move onto how to train all of these big muscles that make up most of the mass of your back, we also need to take time out. This is a point that can’t be forgotten, so make sure you pay attention. Even though these muscles won’t make too much of a difference to your back width or size, they do have an impact on the exercises that do. To really maximise your muscle building, you need to make sure you’re still hitting all of the muscles that support the bigger exercises; otherwise, you're limited without even knowing about it. That comes from:

  • Lower back
  • Biceps
  • Forearms
  • Traps
  • Rhomboids

Make sure you are still giving each of these the attention they deserve.

Exercises

Person doing lat pull downs

Moving onto the next section, we, of course, need to look at the exercises you’re going to need to make the magic happen in the first place. That’s the only real way you’re going to get the progressive overload you need to build a bigger back.

Like we said, most of that comes from finding the best lat exercises, but different things may be better for different people depending on how you already train. There are some exercises out there like these that are tried and tested lat builders already, but every exercise has its benefits.

Let’s start by taking a general approach

Pulls

Pulls are some of the bets back builder out there without a doubt, and if you're looking to build some serious strength and width top your back, pulls are always a great place to start. There are more exercises involved in pulls than you can probably imagine, and all of them have their variations to make things even better too.

Let’s start by looking at the bets pulls:

Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are a massive feat of strength and are up there with the best exercises you could ever do. They're amazing for building functional strength as well as muscle size, and they use just about every muscle in your upper body in some way or another. That makes them perfect for this situation

They are variable in how difficult you make them too. A lot of the time, you can do assisted pull-ups with machines or even with resistance bands under you to pull you up, or you can do other things too. Adding weights to yourself is a way to make it even more intense, for example.

Lat Pull Downs

On the other side of the coin, there are exercises like lat pulldowns too. To make sure that we’re definitely working the lats above all else and aiming to get width and size as the focus, it’s always worth focusing on your positioning. You need to be working with a wide-angle grip above all else and trying your best to really get the contraction you need.

The weight is a lot easier to change int his exercise which can make it an even better exercise than the pull up in some ways (although arguably not overall), and you can change your attachments too. Changing your rep speed and set styles are prime examples that you can do weight any exercise.

Rows

Moving away from pulls, rows are another incredible back building motion to use in an exercise, and they include some of the biggest compound exercises you could ever ask to do if you have the right exercises. They really let you overload your muscles as much as you need to, and this is where the variation comes into play.

No matter what your strengths and weaknesses are, by changing angles and equipment, you can really get specific with what you are doing to maximise all of your hard work. That's something that is hard to get from pulls, so remember that in the long run.

Single Arm Rows

Single-arm rows are up there with the best exercises you could ask for, and there's a great reason for it. The fact that you can isolate each side of your lats individually means you can do seriously impressive things and get some of the best results you could ask for. They’re a seriously big deal, so make the most of them. It can be possible to do single arms rows on various machines, leverage machines and even with cables, put dumbbells do tend to be the best.

Bent rows

Bent rows are one of the biggest compound exercises you can find, and with a barbell by your side and a great wide grip, you should be able to do some serious back building with every workout. These are a crucial tool to back width especially and will likely be the heaviest back lift you can do. T bar rows can be useful too, but it’s always better with a barbell.

 

Building Muscle Outside of Exercise

people eating healthy foods

Finally, we do also need to talk about the other side of things too. That is, how to build muscle outside of your workouts as well as inside them. You need to be making the most of every aspect of muscle building to get a bigger and wider back, after all; otherwise, your efforts will never reach their potential. There’s a lot that goes into it.

Calorie Surplus

Before we go any further at all, it is time to talk about nutrition. We have a separate article on what to eat to gain weight, but generally speaking, the golden rules always apply. You need dot be eating a high protein diet, eating a calorie surplus daily, and making sure that you are getting the best carbs for training. Complex carbs hours before, simple shortly before, and the same goes for post-workout too.

Rest

Your rest days are actually when most of your muscle building takes place. You need be resting to build muscle as this is when your body effective regenerates as there's nothing else it needs to do. Always leave 48 hours between hitting the same muscles, and make sure you're getting around 8 hours of sleep a night too. The rest is up to you.

 

 

All of this is essential information to building a wider back, so make sure you take it on board if the goal is to get bigger. It's a tough job to do, but your back is capable of a vast amount of strength, make sure you utilise it and always stay safe.

 

 

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