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“Back” To Basics – Training The Back Slow, Heavy And Raw

Today’s commercial gyms are packed with all sorts of foo-foo machines delivering promises of full stretches, pumps and muscle blood engorgement, without having to balance a weight. Yes, these Hammer Strength and Nautilus machines can be useful at times for ‘finishing off’ the back after a tough training session. But most of the time, these exercises should only be the “icing” upon a cake of a workout built around the solid foundations of heavy iron lifting. Let’s look at a standard “first 2/3” of any back workout, and how it should look.

There are a number of exercises that have proven to be great for developing the back muscles. The question is, "What is the best back workout for building up the back muscles quickly?" Several of those most highly recommended are discussed below.


Keep it simple, stupid (KISS). Pick up the weight, and put it down. Wear a back brace, warm up completely, and complete your reps slowly. With a nice mix of songs on your iPod, you should be able to take your sweet time and train completely without much trouble or rush. Five sets of slow and heavy deadlifts will torch your lower back and contribute to an overall body hormone release that will give you some new muscle quickly.

Barbell Rows

Here’s another slow and painful movement that almost nobody enjoys, most people avoid, but that deliver some terrific results for all involved. Whatever weight you’re using for the deadlifts, cut in 1/3, and start pulling. Five sets of slow and steady work while using a back brace should be ideal for you.

Horizontal Pulling Exercises

These exercises, oftentimes referred to as rows, include cable rows, seated machine rows, dumbbell rows, and bent-over barbell rows. They are excellent exercises for working the upper back, middle back, and the lats. It's tempting to use cable and machines for these exercises, but they should be avoided in favor of free-weight rowing exercises. Dumbbell rows and barbell rows are excellent choices to include in the best back workout.

Vertical Pulling Exercises

These exercises include recognized favorites underhand chin-ups, overhand chin-ups, and lateral pulldowns. The most effective of these pulling exercises has proven to be the basic wide grip overhand chin-ups, especially for building up your lats.

Shrugging Exercises

These exercises, which include barbell shrugs and dumbbell shrugs, are superb for working the often forgotten upper traps. These are usually performed at the end of a back workout routine, and should usually include a high number of repetitions.

Putting It All Together

Traditionally, the best back workouts include four exercises that are often grouped together into a routine that has proven for many to be excellent for building muscle mass very quickly.

* Wide Grip Overhand Chin-ups: Two sets of five to seven repetitions
* Deadlifts: Two sets of five to seven repetitions
* Bent-over Barbell Rows: Two sets of five to seven repetitions
* Barbell Shrugs: Two sets of ten to twelve repetitions
This routine, properly followed, will undoubtedly move you quickly toward building a strong powerful back with impressive lats and traps.