Be honest: when did you last train your back really well? So well that you worked these muscles as hard as your “mirror muscles” on chest, shoulders or arms day? If it’s been a while since your back last burned with lactic acid and had a big pump through hard (yet smart) lifting, try this six-move back-building workout for size. It’s designed to hit all the major muscles of your upper and lower back, including your traps, to build upper-body width.
How to do the workout
This is a six-move session divided into three supersets. Do all the reps of move 1A then move on to 1B, sticking to the sets, reps, tempo and rest detailed. Then follow this pattern with moves 2A and 2B, then 3A and 3B, to add size and build strength across your back.
Warm up with 10 to 15 empty bar bent-over rows and upright rows, then gradually increase the weight on the bar – while reducing the number of reps per set – until you get to your working-set weight.
1A Bent-over row
Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 30sec
Why The classic lift for a big back.
How Hold the bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Hinge forwards from the hips, then row the bar towards you, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top for a one-count, then lower the bar.
1B Upright row
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60sec
Why It hits your traps to create a wider frame.
How Stand tall with your chest up and abs and core braced, holding a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Row the bar up towards your chin, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top for a one-count, then slowly lower the bar back to the start.
Expert tip With all back moves, it’s crucial to work the muscles to their full capacity. One of the best ways to do so is to pause at the “top” part of each rep and really squeeze the working muscles hard as they work overtime to keep the weight under control.
2A Wide-grip lat pull-down
Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 30sec
Why A wide grip works your lats more.
How Sit on the machine and take a wide overhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up, pull the bar down to chin level. Hold that position for a one-count, then slowly return the bar to the start, keeping tension on your lats throughout.
2B Seated cable row
Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec
Why It works the muscles of the middle of your upper back.
How Grip the handle with both hands. Sit back and with your chest up, pull that handle towards your bellybutton. Pause, then return to the start position.
Expert tip In this final two superset the two moves look similar, but you must use lighter dumbbells for move 3B. That’s because more muscles are involved in the first move, so you’re substantially stronger, whereas going too heavy on move 3B can risk damaging your shoulder joint. Prioritise good form and range of motion over weight.
3A Reverse incline dumbbell row
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 30sec
Why It works each side of your back independently.
How Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand. Row the weights up, leading with your elbows. Hold for a one-count at the top, then lower them slowly.
3B Reverse incline dumbbell flye
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60sec
Why It’s one of the best moves for hitting the rear delts.
How Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a light dumbbell in each hand. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to the sides until they reach shoulder height. Pause for a one-count, then lower them under control.