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Building Bigger Lats Articles Database Articles by Writer Articles Written by Matt Canning Building Bigger Lats

Building Bigger Lats

Go to: Tips

Go to: Exercises

Go to: Sample Back Routine

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If you want a big back, you need to devote big time and effort to that goal. This article will discuss some exericses, tips and sample routines to help you develop your back to its full potential.

Ronnie Coleman 1997

Tip 1 - Variety.

You should always include variety in your workouts. The body is very adaptive and the same exercises get stale quickly. To counter this adaptive effect, you must constantly shake up your workouts by including different exercises and changing the order of exercises from one workout to a next. It may also be in your best interest to employ a shocking principle.

Tip 2 - Form.

Don't get me wrong - I do advocate using heavy weights. But more importantly, it's the heaviest weight YOU can easily handle, safely and without risk of injury. So go heavy, but focus on proper form as best as you can, seeking a balance between the two factors.

Tip 3 - Add Intensity, Not Sets.

Rather than attempting to do set after set to get your back (or any other muscle for that matter) to grow - increase the intensity. Focus on quality over quantity.

Tip 4 - Warm up Properly.

Warming up is also your key to avoiding injury. To warm up, include stretches, light cardio, high rep sets, or any combination of the three. Better safe than sorry.

Tip 5 - Hit Your Back From Different Angles.

Hit your back fully by hitting your traps, upper lats, inner back and lower back.

Tip 6 - Feel the Range of Motion.

Feel the stretch throughout the entire range of motion. You can practice by feeling your lats being pulled outward in a flare when you extend, and bring them together in the back as you contract.

Tip 7 - Vary Your Workouts.

From time to time, to keep your muscles growing, replace one exercise with another similar one. For example, instead of doing lat pulldowns, you can do wide grip chin ups.

Tip 9 - Do Not Train Back and Legs on the Same Day.

The same tip can be applied for chest as well. The reason for this is simple; all three of these muscle groups are big and are a greater strain on the nervous system to exercise and to recover from. That said, you can accomplish your goals by splitting up when you perform these exercises - and they should be each on separate days. Be smart and give your body the best chance for recovery.

Tip 10 - Focus on Nutrition

I try to include this one in every article I write outlining tips. For starters - try to drink 1-1.5 gallons of water each day, 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day and try to split your calories up in six small meals. You will also benefit from calculating your basal metabolic rate.

Click - Calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) HERE.

Back Exercises
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Dorian Yates

Below are some good exercises for your back. Try to design a back workout which will include one or more of these exercises, or follow the sample workouts below.

Chin Ups

Chin ups are a great movement for a full stretch to the top, and a deep contraction that will work the full sweep of your back. Include these at a time in your workout depending on your strength. For example, if you are very strong in this exercise, do chin ups at the end of the workout, so that full rep muscular failure is achieved within a rep range that is desirable for bodybuilding (ie, 8-12 reps). If you are not strong at doing chin ups, perform them closer to the beginning of your workout - that way you can gain strength for this exercise when your strength stores are at their peak. This is beneficial because chin ups are a fundamental lat developing exercise which you will benefit from being able to perform well.


Shrugs can be performed using a barbell, dumbbells or a machine. If you are going to use a barbell, hold the barbell from behind and complete the full reps that way - the reason for this is simple: Your traps are situated on your back, so it only makes sense that optimal development would be from working them in that area. Bodybuilding's most prolific champion, eight time Mr. Olympia winner, Lee Haney recommended this himself - and look at how well developed his traps were (as well as the rest of his body). It's usually a good idea to pay attention to the champs. Coupled with your own judgment and critical thinking skills and you have a good combination to create a winning formula.

T-Bar Rows

T-bars are a great power exercise for the back and help to develop middle back thickness. They will go very well with your other exercises to develop your lats. You want a balanced workout routine which will help you gain mass, but quality mass - detailed and thick - and T-bars will do just that.

Bent Over Barbell Rows


(1) To thicken the upper back.
(2) To widen the upper back.
(3) This exercise will also increase density in the lower back to some degree.


(1) Stand with feet a few inches apart and grasp the bar with a wide, overhand grip.
(2) With knees slightly bent, back straight, and head facing forward, bend forward until your upper body is close to parallel with the floor.
(3) Lift the bar upward until it touches the upper abdominal muscles.
(4) Lower the bar back, slowly, and under control.
(5) Start your next rep.


(1) Be sure to keep your head facing forward.
(2) Ensure that your back does the lifting, and less help from the biceps, you can prevent this by lifting the bar to your abdominal muscles, and not your chest.
(3) Keep your back stable throughout the motion, so as not to work the lower lats.

You can also benefit from applying the following to shock your muscles:

Overload Principle

This is a very important shocking principle in bodybuilding. Your muscles grow when they are overloaded. That said - include heavy weights (as much as you can handle), for the desired rep range. If you workout above and beyond the comfort level, your muscles will respond and you'll have yourself to thank.

Descending Sets

This is a training intensity principle for the more advanced. Do an exercise to failure, then decrease the weight slightly and do another set right away - also to failure. Continue to strip the weight until you have no more weight to strip (you're using the empty bar for example), or until you can't do anymore. This can be an enjoyable training principle (or not so much!) depending on if you are ready for it.

Pyramid Principle

Use a first set to warm up in the higher rep range (15-20 reps), then gradually add weight to each additional set as you go down in reps. This is a great strategy to help you get an awesome
pump as well as helping you stay safe.

Sample Back Routine
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Sample Routine
Exercise Sets Reps
Chin Ups 3 12,10,8
Bent Over Barbell Rows 4 12,10,8,8
T-Bar Rows 4 12,10,8,8
Upright Rows 4 12,10,8,8
Shrugs 4 12,10,8,8

Take care,

Matt Canning

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