In bodybuilding, there is nothing more awesome than the back double bicep pose. You cannot hide any weakness from the judges. In my opinion, the guys who had the best backs in bodybuilding were Flex Wheeler, Chris Cormier and Dorian Yates. Thickness from left to right, the christmas tree effect of the Lats, the roadmap resulting from sheer vascularity and clear separation of the delts, upper traps, biceps and triceps.

How did they do it?

Well, we know that Flex, Chris and Dorian trained very differently. Dorian followed HIT and flex had a ‘conventional’ training regime. They have both written plenty of articles on their back workouts in various bodybuilding magazines, so you can easily look them up. However, I want to share with you a back training routine that has worked exceptionally well for me. It builds thickness, detail and vascularity. Whilst I am an advocate of HIT, you can adapt it accordingly to suit your training method.

1. Make sure you have warmed up properly. I do ten minutes of light rowing to warm up for my back routine.

2. T-bar rows (to target the mid and outer back)
At the top of the action (bar close to your chest), I hold the weight and squeeze for the count of three. At the bottom of the action (bar close to the ground), I hold the weight steady for the count of three and allow a controlled stretch of the mid traps, rhomboids and mid lats.
I count to two for the concentric action and to four for the eccentric action of the exercise. I take a three-minute rest between the two working sets to allow my muscles some recovery time and to make all the sets constructive.

2 sets of 15 to 20 reps at 60% and 70% of my 1RM respectively.
1 set at 80% of my 1RM. I go to failure, lower the weight for ten seconds and then keep going until I fail again. Repeat it all for a 3rd time. This means I go to failure three times.
1 set at 85% of my 1RM. Once again, I go to failure three times.

3. Lat pull downs (to widen the upper lats)

I do not do any warm-up sets for this exercise. I go straight into action with this exercise. Hold the bar with a wide grip. At the top of the action (bar above your head), I hold the weight for the count of three and allow a controlled stretch of the upper lats. At the bottom of the action, I hold the weight and squeeze for the count of three.

I count to two for the concentric action and to four for the eccentric action of the exercise. I take a two minute rest between sets.

1 set at 75% of my 1RM.
1 set at 80% of my 1 RM.
1 set at 85% of my 1 RM.
I go to failure twice for each set. By now, my arms and lats are pretty much fried!

4. Seated cable rows (to develop thickness of the back and lower lats)

Once again, I do not do a warm-up set.

I do three sets at 75%, 80% and 85% of my 1 RM, respectively. I hold the stretch (handles away from your chest) for three seconds and the squeeze (handles against your abs, in-line with your belly button) for three seconds. The concentric action takes two seconds and the eccentric action four. I go to failure twice for each set. I take a two-minute rest between sets.

5. I am not shy to stretch, so I spend a good five minutes stretching the lats, traps and rhomboids at the end of my session.

The whole routine takes about 50 minutes and is extremely effective in building a thick, muscular, striated and vascular back. But, do not take my word for it, give it a try and see for yourself.

Yours in health and peak performance,
Christopher Govender

PS: Who do you think HAD and HAS the best back in bodybuilding?