Every guy and most girls want a solid back, guys want to break drywall walking into rooms and girls want to be lean and streamlined. Both of these are great goals and both can be achieved in a similar fashion. While females do tend to need more isolation than males to build their upper bodies, there should still be a focus on big basic movements. Just to keep everyone happy I will lay out my favorite back exercises to build the base for a solid back. I say build a base because odds are you’ve been ignoring your back and you need to build raw strength and size before you can detail it.

  1. Hang Cleans- I bet most of you were expecting me to say deadlifts, and yes deadlifts do have a ton of carry over to back development. However, deadlifts also stress the legs t0 a high degree and due to individual leverages may not hit the back as hard as other excercises. Yes I do realize that the hang clean puts you in a front squat position, but try it out and tell me that you don’t feel that son of a gun in your back. Along with this the hang clean gives you the best of both worlds in regards to time under tension and explosiveness. It wakes the whole posterior chain up and gives you a great explosive start to your back workout that deadlifts may not. There is also less chance of injury, assuming you aren’t an idiot, because the weights are lighter. I usually do sets of five until I feel my form break down, which usually takes 3-5 sets depending on the weight.     Hang Clean VideoMattie Rogers
  2. Pull Ups- I’m a firm believer that an individual is not actually strong if they cannot control their own body. Therefore, if someone can’t do pull-ups, push-ups, air squats or walking lunges without good form then they are weak. I don’t care if you’re 250 pounds with a 600 pound deadlift, not being able to control your own bodyweight for at least five clean pull-ups means you aren’t functional. Okay rant aside the pull-up is a great movement to target the back and biceps, but many people do it wrong via kipping or the wrong grip. Rather than explain it in words I will give you a link to a video that does a really good job on giving advice for pull-ups.                             Pull-ups VideoMarisa Inda pullup
  3. Kroc Rows- Kroc rows are the best thing I’ve ever done for my back development. Essentially a Kroc row is a high rep version of a dumbbell row with a really damn heavy weight. The man who created this is named Matt Kroc and he is known as an all around bad ass. The dude has held records in powerlifting as well as looking amazing on a bodybuilding stage. Not surprisingly one of his best assets is a thick, dense and wide back.Matt Kroc BackAnyways, he developed this exercise because he was having issues with his lockout on deadlifts. That fixed this problem and also helped build this monstrous back. I normally do the Kroc row 2-3 sets of 20 without straps, but you can use straps to focus more on your back as well.     Kroc Row Video
  4. Pendlay Rows- I hesitate to put any sort of barbell row in here because new guys and veterans a like seem to fuck them up. Guys you aren’t having sex with the barbell so stop humping it into your midsection for the love of god… Do your back exercises right so your girl has something to hold on to. This is essentially a deadstop barbell row that develops strength and hypertrophy without using a stretch reflex. Set up with the bar on the ground and your body parallel to the ground. Then drive the bar towards your upper body with your elbows and minimal hip drive. I generally use this exercise for 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.

Pendlay Rows Video

So during a normal back workout for me this would look something like:

Hang Clean: 4×5

Pendlay Row: 4×8

Pull-Ups: 3xFailure

Kroc Rows: 2×20

Give this workout a try and let me know how you like it!

Until Next Time,

Get Back to Work