It never ceases to amaze me how incredibly misguided the vast majority of the population is in the gym. Everyone is desperate for that wide, powerful and muscular physique, yet very few understand how to properly channel their efforts to get there.
For most aspiring lifters, it's all about building a huge chest and arms. Week after week they slave away on endless sets of bench presses and barbell curls in search of the rippling muscle gains they want so badly.
Not surprisingly, those gains never appear in any significant form.
While a well developed chest and arms is clearly an important part of any complete physique, the truth is that these muscles only play a small role when compared to a much larger, much more intricate muscle group that most people severely neglect in their training programs.
I am, of course, talking about the major muscles of the back: the lats, traps, spinal erectors, rhomboids and lower back.
It's obvious why most lifters neglect these all-too-important muscles…
1) The back is not a "showy" muscle and you can't see it in the mirror.
2) Back training is far more stressful and taxing to the body than chest or arm training.
3) Most lifters are simply unaware of how important the development of these muscles really is.
Allow me to let you in on a little secret…
If you want to appear as wide, thick and powerful as you possibly can, nothing will allow you to achieve this goal faster than a well developed back.
In fact, 70% of your upper body muscle mass resides in this area!
Nothing can replace the upper body thickening effect of big, bulging lats and a set of wide, tall trapezius muscles.
Please, get up off that bench press and put down that EZ-curl bar for just a moment and let me share a simple, step-by-step workout that you can use to build the muscular back you so desperately need.
There are 4 major movements that you must perform to properly develop your back…
I cannot possibly stress the importance of this lift enough. There is not a single exercise out there that can even come close to matching the effectiveness of a basic, bent-legged barbell deadlift.
The deadlift will work you from finger to neck to toe and is irreplaceable in developing strong, thick back muscles. The deadlift will stimulate growth throughout the entire back complex and should be the cornerstone of your routine.
2) A vertical pulling movement
These exercises mainly target the lat muscles and will help you to attain that wide, v-tapered look from behind. Examples of vertical pulling movements are chin-ups (overhand or underhand), lat pulldowns and v-bar pulldowns.
To get the most bang for your buck I recommend a basic overhand chin-up. This is the bread and butter of vertical pulling movements and will stimulate growth in the lats like no other exercise.
3) A horizontal pulling movement
Otherwise referred to as "rows", horizontal pulling movements place their emphasis on the upper/middle portion of the back and also stimulate the lats. There are a ton of different rowing movements to choose from: bent over barbell rows, dumbbell rows, seated machine rows and cable rows just to name a few.
For maximum results, stick to a basic freeweight rowing movement. I usually recommend bent over barbell rows, but bent over dumbbell rows are an acceptable choice as well.
4) A shrugging movement
While not quite as important as the above mentioned lifts, a shrugging movement should still be performed at the end of the workout to target the upper traps and develop that mountainous, diamond-shaped look from behind. A basic barbell or dumbbell shrug will do the trick.
Okay, let's put it all together…
Deadlifts – 2 sets of 5 to 7 reps
Overhand Chin-Ups – 2 sets of 5 to 7 reps
Bent Over Barbell Rows – 2 sets of 5 to 7 reps
Barbell Shrugs – 2 Sets of 10 to 12 reps
For optimal gains in back size and strength, the above routine is ideal.
It may not seem like a lot, but as long as you take every set to muscular failure and focus on quality rather than quantity, this routine provides more than enough stimulation for maximum back growth. I've used this same routine for many years and continue to see steady progress in both back size and strength.
Make sure to keep a written record of every workout that you perform, and focus each week on increasing either the weight that you lift or the number of reps that you perform within the given rep range.
Perform this workout once per week with full effort and I guarantee that your upper body will appear thicker, wider and more muscular than ever before.
...What about specific routines for the chest? What about the biceps, triceps and shoulders? How about the thighs, calves and abs?
For specific training information on each of these body parts make sure to and find out how you can finally get the rock-solid muscle gains you deserve without spending endless hours in the gym.