Top 7 Back workout for mass gain

 

If you’re trying to build bigger and stronger back but fail to decide the effective combination of back workout that increases mass and strength, I assure you, here you’ll find best exercises that surely help you develop stronger-looking back.

When it comes to muscle building selection of exercises is very important. Whether you want to build a bigger chest, powerful legs or the stronger back, the adoption of right workouts will help you achieve your fitness goal faster.

For example, back workout like pull-ups, pulldown, rowing and IYT raises exercises increase body mass and help you build wider and stronger back.

Basically strength training promote muscle gain faster and increase muscle strength. Strong muscles increase bone density and strong bones reduce the risk of injuries such as osteoporosis.

Major Muscles of the Back

Major Muscles of the Back that help you understand the back anatomy.
Major Back Muscles (Source)

To build strong back you need to target all muscles of your back such as;

  • Trapezius ( Upper, middle and the lower traps)
  • The Rhomboids major and minor (which structured beneath the trapezius muscle)
  • Latissimus dorsi or Lats (Superior, middle and inferior)
  • Infraspinatus (this is one of the rotator cuff muscles)
  • And the last but the important one the erector spinae or the lower back

You can’t achieve wider or V-shape back if you skip any of the five muscles and the reason some people failed to build stronger back because they don’t train all muscles. That’s why I’ve created a list of best back workout that work on each muscle and promote mass gain.

Before moving on the workout list, It is important to understand a few things that play a great role in Back muscle activation & Mass Gain:

1. Grip

Back Workout For Mass Gain
Thumbless Grip

Use “Thumbless Grip” instead of placing your thumb underneath the bar or the dumbbell. It means to keep your thumb over the bar along with fingers. Because it will activate more back muscles instead of involving biceps also. Whether you do pull down or pull-ups try using thumbless grip because it really does work for the back.

2. Use “Elbows” instead of “Hands” at the time of rowing:

At the rowing or pulling, use your elbows instead of your hands because using elbows activate more back muscles and reduce wrist involvement. Doing this not only activate muscles intensely but also help you do more reps and sets.

3. Keep your shoulders down and away from the head

Keeping the shoulder down and away from the neck put less stress on the traps and help you perform back exercises with ease so that you can do more repetitions and build wider lats.


So before starting out any back exercise keep the above points in mind so that you can generate the maximum result. Okay, so let’s just quickly find out the top 7 exercises that lead to mass gain and help you build bigger and wider back.

A list Best Workout That Increases Back Muscle Mass


1. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are “pronated wide grip arm abduction” strength exercise which activates several muscles such as; lats, rhomboids, lower traps, deltoids and the arms.

Pronated means your palms facing downward and the wide grip means at least 1.5x shoulder-width. The arm abduction indicates raising arms out to the sides.

Pullup is one of the best Back Workouts For Mass Gain
Source: Giphy

This is one of the best exercises I personally like and do. Because doing pull-ups have numerous benefits like they increase strength and power, build muscles, enhance grip strength, improve posture and good for the overall physique.

Here we’ll see how to do the pull-ups correctly:
  • Start with standing under the center of a pull-up bar.
  • Now reach onto a pull-up bar and grip with your hands 1.5x wider than shoulder-width, palms facing down and away.
  • Keep your arms extended and your knees slightly bent. That’s the starting position.
  • Now brace your core and pull your body up until your chin is just above the bar and then slowly lower your body in a controlled way while ensuring you feel muscle activation as pull and return to the beginning.
  • That will be one complete rep. You can do as many as you can because the number of repetitions depends on one’s strength and power.
Important points you need to keep in mind while doing pull-ups:
  1. You can keep your ankles cross to each other instead of keeping your feet behind.
  2. Keep your chest up when you reach above because this allows more muscle activation.
  3. Do not flare your elbows out because it may reduce the effectiveness of pull-ups.

When we talk about pull-ups, one more exercise we like to discuss at the same time which is chin-ups. Here we take a look at some important points which help you understand the difference between these two.

Pull-ups vs Chin-ups

As you can clearly see in the image that chin-ups activate more muscles than pull-ups. If we talk about back muscles, both exercises work on the lats and other back muscles. However, chin-ups require more strength from biceps compared to the pull-ups that make chin-ups is one of the best biceps exercises. On the other hand, pull-ups more focus on the lats.

So if you want to build bigger and wider back then pull-ups would be the first choice because it involves more lats activation than the chin-ups.

Although, if you want to focus more on the upper back instead of the whole then chin-ups would be a better exercise.

The fundamental principle is that to build V tapper back you need to do more abduction exercise such as pull-ups and push-ups instead of extension exercises like rowing.


2. Lat Pulldowns

The lat pull-downs are of the best compound workouts which strengthen back muscle and promotes mass gain. It works on numerous back muscles especially the latissimus dorsi or lats.

Lat Pulldown is the Back Workout that increase Mass Gain
(Edited) source:Everkinetic / CC BY-SA

According to an article published in ptonthenet, actions that muscles perform during the exercises listed below:

At the time of pulling the bar down or Concentric Phase
  • Shoulder adduction
  • Shoulder horizontal abduction
  • Elbow flexion
  • Scapulae downward rotation
  • Scapulae retraction
At the time of releasing the bar upward or Eccentric Phase
  • Shoulder abduction
  • Shoulder horizontal adduction
  • Elbow extension
  • Scapulae upward rotation
  • Scapulae protraction
Targeted Muscles in the lat pulldown exercise:
  • Lats (The largest back muscles)
  • Teres Major
  • Posterior Deltoid
  • Trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Rotator cuff

Here’s how you can do the front lat pull down properly

  • Start with sitting on the table just below the center of a pull-down bar and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Now grab the pull-down bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. That’s the starting position.
  • Now brace your core and slightly lift the torso back so that when you pull the bar down it comes toward the chest.
  • Keep your spine in a neutral position and pull the bar toward your chest until you feel the full contraction in the lats and scapulae retractors.
  • Then slowly return the bar to the beginning by extending your elbows. That’s one complete repetition. For better result do 30-40 reps into three different sets with maximum weights possible.

Important points you need to keep in mind while doing Lat pull-down:

  1. Avoid rounding of your back during the movement.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the time of pulling.
  3. Inhale before pulling the bar and exhale before returning to the starting.
  4. Hold at the bottom of the lift and do it in a controlled way.

Other Benefits of Lat Pull-down Exercise

Other than strengthening and building muscles of the back, lat pulldown also increases pulling strength; fix and improve bad posture which is caused by sitting long hours on the chair; strengthen the shoulders by activating rotator cuff muscles and posterior deltoids; improve muscles coordination and reduce the risk of injuries.

Different Variations of the lat pulldown

  • Behind-The-Neck Lat Pull-Down
  • V-Bar or D-Handles Pull-Down
  • Reverse Close-Grip Lat Pull-Down
  • Single-Arm Lat Pull-Down

Front Vs. Rear Pull-Downs

Like pull-ups vs chin-ups, one more query is normal to have when it comes to the back workout and that is the difference between front pulldown and rear pulldown; which one is a more effective workout for back mass development?

Well, I am not going to explain in detail but I’ll mention here some important points that help you understand the difference between behind the neck pull down and front pulldown.

  1. According to several studies published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; lat pulldown exercise with a wide grip where the bar comes in front of your neck produced greater muscle activity in the lats than wide-grip lat pulldown where the bar comes behind the neck.
  2. Behind the neck, pulldown put more stress on the rotator cuff that sometimes becomes harder to stabilize the shoulder joints which cause injuries or soreness. While one study suggests that doing front pulldown create less stress on the shoulder joints that reduce the risk of injuries. So for the safety reason, again front pulldown wins the race.

So when you have to choose between the front and rear pull-down, always go with the first one without a second thought. But I would suggest you do 2 sets of rear pulldowns with lighter weight then do the 4 sets of front pulldown with heavier weight.


3. Bent Over Row

The bent-over row is the compound workout which works on numerous muscles such as deltoids, arms and especially the back which makes it a great upper body workout.

The bent-over row is one of those exercises which target all five major muscles of the back such as the middle trapezius, Latissimus dorsi, the erector spinar, rhomboids major & minor and the Infraspinatus.

(Edited) source:Everkinetic / CC BY-SA

According to an article published in the American Council on Exercise, the bent-over row would be the first choice out of 8 exercises including chin-ups, pullups and the pulldowns.

How to do Barbell Bent-Over Row

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a bar with your hands with an overhand grip. palms facing down.
  • Slightly bend your knees, lean forward while maintaining a flat back and keep your core tight. That’s the starting position.
  • Now raise the bar toward your stomach until you feel the full contraction in the back muscles. During the row, make sure your chest up and elbows go out to the sides.
  • Hold for a second at the top then slowly lower to the starting position. That’s one rep!
  • The suggested repetitions for this exercise are at least 6-10 each set.
  • Keep your chest up and remain bent during the whole movement.

Related: 10 Compound Back Workout With Dumbbells


4. Inverted Row

If you’re looking which exercises help you build a bigger or V tapper back then the inverted row is one of them. It is a compound exercise which works on several muscles especially the back.

According to an article published in the Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research, the inverted row, barbell bent-over row and the one-arm cable row, provides the greatest contractions in the upper back and the lats. One more important thing is that the inverted rows put less stress on the lumbar spine that reduce the risk of injuries.

Muscles Worked:

  • Middle trapezius
  • Lower trapezius
  • Infraspinatus
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Infraspinatus
  • Posterior deltoids

How to do the Inverted Rows:

The best and the safest way to do the inverted row is using the smith machine. So, here we take a look at how you can do the inverted row stepwise:

  • Set up the bar in the smith machine and lay down on your back just underneath. Now reach onto the bar to grab with your hands with an overhand grip. Make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart.
  • Now brace your core and pull your torso toward the bar until your chest reaches the bar. And then slowly lower your body in a controlled way while ensuring you feel muscle activation as pull and return to the beginning.
  • That will be one complete rep. You can do as many as you can.

Important points you need to keep in mind while doing Inverted Rows:

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top.
  • Avoid rounding of your back during the movement.
  • Keep your body straight from head to the heels.
  • Inhale before pulling the bar and exhale before returning to the starting.

Doing an inverted row regularly helps you improve your pulling strength and allows you to do more pull-ups. So if you’re not good at doing pull-ups then I would suggest you do more inverted rows.

Other Inverted Row Variations:

  • Modified Inverted Row
  • Single-arm Inverted Row
  • Suspended Inverted Row

Related: 10 Best Workout For Upper Body Strength


5. Seated Cable Row

The seated cable row is one of the basic workouts for the back, especially the traps muscles. It plays a major role in V-tapper back development. Other than back it also works on the shoulders and the arms. Not only this but it also improves bone density which decreases the chances of getting injured.

(Edited) source:Everkinetic / CC BY-SA

How to do a Seated Cable Rowing

  • Set the desired weight on the weight stack and attach the D-handle to the seated row machine.
  • Now sit on a bench or on the mat and extend your arms to grab the D-handles with a neutral grip, palms facing each other.
  • Keep your back straight, chest up and legs slightly bent, or keep your feet on the pad if available.
  • Now pull the handles toward your stomach until they close to your body. Hold for a second and then slowly return to the starting point. That’s one rep! Suggested three sets of 8-12 reps each.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the time of rowing.
  • And make sure you feel a full contraction on the muscles of the back.

6. I Y T Raises

An unfamiliar but an effective all round upper body workout that activates several muscles group especially the muscles of the back.

When you want to target more muscles in the least time then IYT raises exercises would be a better option to do. Doing 15 to 20 reps will give you the same advantages as doing 20 to 30 reps inverted rows.

You can do both bodyweight and dumbbell IYT raises but the dumbbell IYT raises would be more effective than only bodyweight IYT variation. Even there are two variations flat and incline. So I’ll give you instructions on how to dumbbell incline IYT.

Muscles Worked:

  • Middle trapezius
  • Lower trapezius
  • Infraspinatus
  • Upper Traps
  • Posterior delts
  • Erector Spinae
  • Rhomboids

Here we take a look at the steps to do the Incline Dumbbell I-Y-T Raises:

  • Lie on your stomach on a 30-degree incline bench with holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral or overhand grip.
  • Keep your chest at the corner of a bench with your arms extended underneath.
  • Now to form the letter “I” raise the dumbbells forward in front of you until they are parallel to the floor. Hold for a second and then slowly lowered them back to starting position.
  • To form the letter “Y” raise the dumbbells upward at a 45-degree angle so that your body forms a “Y” shape. Hold for a moment and then slowly return to the initial position. Make sure you squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top.
  • Now to form the letter “T” raise the dumbbells out to sides until they are parallel to the ground. make sure your body looks in the “T” shape at the top. Hold for a second and then slowly return to the beginning position. That’s one complete rep!
  • Do the desired number of repetitions.

Related: IYT Raises Exercise: Types & Benefits Of I-Y-T Workout


7. TRX row

In terms of muscle activation, TRX row wouldn’t be a good option among these exercises. But it works on the major muscles of the back such as upper and middle traps, latissimus dorsi and the rhomboids.

It also provides other benefits which are important for the overall fitness including body-balance and stability. Not only this but TRX rows also target those muscles which are skipped in other back exercises which makes it an important back workout for the mass gain.

Source: Vimeo

How to do the TRX Rows:

  • Stand with your feet, holding a TRX handles in each hand with a neutral grip, palms facing others. Keep the hip-width distance between your feet.
  • Take one step forward with your right feet while keeping the other on the same position and both feet facing forward.
  • Pull your shoulder blades down and back so that you could lean backward.
  • Keep your body straight in line and your body weight shifted over the back of your legs when you straighten the elbows. Your elbows should be at chest height.
  • Now brace your core and bend the elbows at your sides and pull your chest toward your hands.
  • Hold for a sec then extend your arms to lower your body back to the beginning. That’s one rep!
  • Suggested; three sets of 8-12 reps each.

Related: The 15 Best Bodyweight Back Workouts At Home

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