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Thread: Crazy Back Thickness

  1. #1
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Crazy Back Thickness

    Lat size, or length down your sides at least, is genetic. Not a ton we can really do about that. You can do pulldowns all week long and they aren't going to grow further down your sides lol.

    But thickness is something we can all appreciate.

    What have you guys done to increase your back thickness? We're talking inner. upper back as well as your lat thickness.

    What has worked exceptionally well for you?

    Did you notice strength gains came along with the size? Or was it a certain exercise that your back just responded to well.


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    I always like T bar rows w/ a Barbell & handle....these seem realy great for strength & mass......

    These r great to really hit the spot for moderate weight & reps.............
    kneel in front of a lat pull down machine, arch back/ chest up......Attach 2 handles and do pull downs to your chest, be sure to really spread the handles at the bottom. Really seems to hit the middle upper back.
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  3. #3
    SchModerator ZenMonkey's Avatar
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    BO Rows
    Pendlay Rows
    Weighted Pullups

    On a bulk my BO Row got to 265 for 5 and my pullups got to 110lbs for 3x5, both using basic linear progression.
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  4. #4
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    Did you notice strength gains came along with the size?
    I've noticed the oposite, or maybe it's the same thing and I'm just looking at it backwards. But, I've noticed with increased strength I've gotten increased size.

    My middle/upper back is fairly thick. I attribute this to heavy loads placed on it from lifts like Deadlifts (all forms) and 1 Arm Dumbbell Rows. I've done high reps, moderate reps, and low reps. I think they've all been benefitial and I haven't seen a big difference in growth between them. I think the key is working them heavy relative to the rep count.

    My lats are a different story. They are unimpressive for the most part. I attribute this to the fact that I am miserable at Chin-ups and Pull-ups. I have a hard time triggering the back muscles during these movements. I am more of an arm chinner and my biceps grow well from them, just not my lats. Because of this weakness, I am unable to do high reps, and maybe that's what I need to do. I have been toying with rack chins and I can definately feel my lats getting triggered more, so maybe that will be the key. It just feels like cheating though

    So this brings up the question; Is my Deadlift/Row strength decent because I find it easy to build those muscles, or is my upper/middle back growing because I find Deadlifts/Rows easier to do?
    Last edited by Off Road; 10-12-2009 at 09:20 AM.
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  5. #5
    Gaglione Strength Chris Rodgers's Avatar
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    I am tiny, weighing only 175 lbs, but my back thickness is probably what people would notice on me first and I attribute that to just deadlifting heavy consistently week after week, month after month, year after year. If that doesn't thicken you up then you have no hope, lol. Of course I love to do weighted chins and rows, but the deadlifts are what has given me my turtle shell.
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  6. #6
    LittleJake JSully's Avatar
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    I've got a fairly thick back. Though I need to work on shrugs more to really thicken up where my traps tie in to my upper/inner back. A few thing that worked awesome..

    One arm db rows
    yates rows
    v-bar cable rows
    one arm cable rows

    I have noticed strength has come along with the gains, though I'm not sure of the carryover to anything in the big three.. It definately helps me look better at a higher % bf.. lol
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  7. #7
    Mr. Skinny Wrists Nicky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    I have been toying with rack chins
    Tell me more of these rack chins.
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    Youtube rack chins there's lots on there.

    Bit like you Offroad it's taken lots of concentrating to make traditional lat movements hit the lats especially chins/pull-ups.
    Unlike you I've always been good at them, reps 25 plus (6'5" back then approx 280lbs) and maxed out with 110lbs additional weight for 3, but my lats didn't grow as you'd expect.
    Rack chins take a bit of feeling to get positioning right and loading them's awkward but once dialled in they hit the lats like nothing I've experienced.

    As for thickness, dlifts, cleans, rack pulls, and dbell/bbell rows all done in the 3-6 rep range are responsible for my thickness and I would say I'm a 'deep' individual not so much a 'wide' one.

    As for middle back, rhomboids, learning to properly retract the shoulder blades made the biggest difference.

  9. #9
    WBB's Juggernaut/Liason BigCorey75's Avatar
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    Deadlifts, Good mornings and Rack Pulls, will add a lot of slabs of meat and thickness to your upper back
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    Deadlifts,dumbell rows

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    Ive been working on strengthening my back, and I'm glad to see that what I am doing Is what everyone is suggesting... I'm also starting to see some muscle back there as well. not sure what is making the biggest difference. I rotate these in and out depending on what I feel like doing.

    Deadlifts
    DB rows
    BB rows (I like underhand, but I do overhand as well)
    Cleans (not sure how much they help, but I know they can't hurt)
    Chin ups (I really need to put a bar up at my house)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    Lat size, or length down your sides at least, is genetic. Not a ton we can really do about that. You can do pulldowns all week long and they aren't going to grow further down your sides lol.

    But thickness is something we can all appreciate.

    What have you guys done to increase your back thickness? We're talking inner. upper back as well as your lat thickness.

    What has worked exceptionally well for you?

    Did you notice strength gains came along with the size? Or was it a certain exercise that your back just responded to well.
    Hey travis is that you in ur default pic

  13. #13
    Superman sharkall2003's Avatar
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    My back is my best feature and that's because it's thick in the mid and lower and it's wide. As far as traps they are non-existent.

    Favorite exercises are pullups and deadlifts. I found that snatches really helped, too.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member ZenFitness's Avatar
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    Pullups and deadlifts here

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    Moderator joey54's Avatar
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    Deadlifts.

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    THE 800 QUEST NickAus's Avatar
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    Every variaton of rows under the sun, I like em all.
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  17. #17
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al19067 View Post
    Hey travis is that you in ur default pic
    Yes sir, that was me about a year ago I believe. I should get some more current pics to compare between the two.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Roberts View Post
    Youtube rack chins there's lots on there.

    Bit like you Offroad it's taken lots of concentrating to make traditional lat movements hit the lats especially chins/pull-ups.
    Unlike you I've always been good at them, reps 25 plus (6'5" back then approx 280lbs) and maxed out with 110lbs additional weight for 3, but my lats didn't grow as you'd expect.
    Rack chins take a bit of feeling to get positioning right and loading them's awkward but once dialled in they hit the lats like nothing I've experienced.

    As for thickness, dlifts, cleans, rack pulls, and dbell/bbell rows all done in the 3-6 rep range are responsible for my thickness and I would say I'm a 'deep' individual not so much a 'wide' one.

    As for middle back, rhomboids, learning to properly retract the shoulder blades made the biggest difference.

    Great post Daniel! Excellent information

    I fully agree on the middle back. I've seen guys who had massive thickness in their middle back, who actually didn't dumbbell row tons of weight, rather they were extremely concentrated on how they extended and contracted their shoulder blades during the movement.

    Pullups tend to hit my lats more for me, may be the way I'm doing them, but I'm certainly sore after doing sets of 8. I really should start adding these in more though.



    Has anyone found that straight arm pulldowns help much?


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  18. #18
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    oh yea def. deadlifts have given me the thickness and size i was going for.....im not disrespecting people with traps that dont necessarily show, im talking about the skinny pretty boys with pencil sized traps that are highly noticable with that stringy look to them. hate that

  19. #19
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    My back, especially my lats, have always just responded well to training.

    Prior to shoulder issues, I LOVED wide grip behind the neck chins.

    T-bar rows were always another favorite.

    My last back workout really hit things nicely. Here is what I did:

    Parallel Grip Chins - body weight x 20ish, 13 (can't remember the exact count on the 1st set)

    Hammer Strength Seated Row - this is the one where you sit completely upright and row in a motion which is parallel to the ground. We did one arm at a time.
    5 plates per side - 7 reps
    6 plates per side (no straps) - 15 reps
    7 plates per side (used straps) - 7 reps

    We then did a form of a pullover using an overhead cable apparatus. We did this for 2 sets to failure totally focusing on contracting the lats.

    I have always had a great "mind-muscle" connection with my lats and can involve them in any movement much better than most trainees. That is a bit of a gift, but I also have a few tricks that help. One is to always keep the chest up and back arched when at full contraction. This helps to focus the exercise on the lats.


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  20. #20
    Senior Member cphafner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Off Road View Post
    I have been toying with rack chins and I can definately feel my lats getting triggered more, so maybe that will be the key. It just feels like cheating though
    I'm a fan on these. I've been doing them for probably 6 months now. Did them tonight actually. I feel like they have brought up my back a bit recently. I prefer them to weighted pullups. I can squeeze better and they don't bug my biceps either. I think they are more a width exercise though. I did these tonight and rack pulls for thickness. I like that combo a lot. Although I don't have a big back like Chris or Travis.
    Last edited by cphafner; 10-12-2009 at 09:44 PM.
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    I youtubed Rack Chins and was wondering how doing those with weight in your lap compares to pullups/chinups with a dip belt? Seems like you're not using 100% of your body weight, right?

  22. #22
    Senior Member musclemick's Avatar
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    Back is definately my strong point

    Main focus has always been on weighted chins (or bw towards the end of a workout), bit wider than shoulder grip and from 6-12 reps.
    Heavy deadlifts in the 3-6 rep range.
    T bar rows with a V grip or straight handle to hit the mid back and trapezius
    BO BB rows, bent over 90 at the hips and row straight up to my belly, pulling my elbows back. Alter between BO rows and T bars every few months.


    Also just started doing supinated chins. Really hit a lot of lower lats for me. I don't do all these in one program, it's just what has worked for me over a couple of years.
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  23. #23
    The Flyfisher rbtrout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    I fully agree on the middle back. I've seen guys who had massive thickness in their middle back, who actually didn't dumbbell row tons of weight, rather they were extremely concentrated on how they extended and contracted their shoulder blades during the movement.

    Has anyone found that straight arm pulldowns help much?
    I do db rows very slowly, keeping my elbow tucked in and it seems to work for me. I've got 2 buddies at the gym that ask me why I only do 2-3 sets and do them slowly - I get more out of them than most who are using too much weight and going fast.

    I'll superset pulldowns with straight arm pulldowns about once a month and I can really feel it in my lats (tris get hit on the straight arms, too).

    I'll never be a really wide bodybuilder looking guy, (genetics are a bear, aren't they?) but the biggest thing I've noticed is that I'm very thick chest to back. Deads, rack deads, rowing, etc. are my friends.
    Last edited by rbtrout; 10-13-2009 at 09:38 AM.
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  24. #24
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    Heavy deadlifts for reps really helped my back grow along with heavy db rows. A good finisher for upperback is scarecrows, Defranco uses these with his athletes a lot and they have worked well for me.

  25. #25
    Risk10k Clifford Gillmore's Avatar
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    I'm nor wide nor thick, but I do appreciated a stupid huge back!!


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