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Top 5 Exercises To Widen Your Back

Written by Alex Stevenson


Looking to gain better back width? If so, you need the right exercises to do the job.  Getting a wide and nicely developed back is a goal for many men as it’ll stand to compliment the front of their body very nicely.

This said, not all back exercises are going to have the same impact.  You want to emphasize those that increase the total width of your back, giving you that broad look that you’re going for.

While it’s great to perform a good mix of moves that will target the back from all angles, the following five should form the foundation of your program if this is your current goal.

Let’s go over the main moves you should know so that you can start incorporating them into your protocol.

5. Deadlifts

The first move to add to your workout is the deadlift. Now, you might be wondering – ‘but this is a lower body movement?’

And you are correct, it does work the lower body very well. But, in addition to that, it can also help you see excellent strength gains in your upper body also, namely, in your back.

The deadlift exercise is such a compound movement that you’ll almost hit virtually every muscle in your body, reaping great strength gains.

Deadlifts are such a powerhouse movement, do them first in any workout that you do so that you can perform with maximum effort.

From there, you can add other more targeted back exercises, furthering bringing on that state of fatigue.

4. Weighted Pull-Ups

The next move to get into place? Weighted pull-ups. Pull-ups are an often forgotten about exercise because you aren’t using barbells or weight machines while doing them, but make no mistake, they are excellent for increasing your strength and back width.

When doing pull-ups, you’ll want to focus on wide grip pull-ups as much as possible as these will particularly target the outer lats, increasing the thickness as desired.

As it’ll only be so long before regular pull-ups just don’t pose much of a challenge, consider doing weighted pull-ups instead.  Attach some plate weight to your waist using a belt or alternatively, wear a weighted vest if you prefer.

This way, you can boost the resistance of this move just the same as you would any other strength training exercise.

As you perform these, make sure that you’re doing them in a slow and controlled movement pattern the entire way through to keep constant tension on the muscle tissues.  Also aim to keep your lower body as motionless as possible.

The minute your lower body starts moving as you do the exercise is the minute momentum begins to take over your lift.

3. Underhand Grip Barbell Row

Moving along, now that you’ve done a vertical pulling movement, you want to balance this with a horizontal pulling exercise. This will ensure good muscular balance occurs and that you are hitting the muscles from all angles.

The underhand grip barbell row is excellent for increasing back width and will also help build up your biceps as well.  Using the underhand grip is especially important here as it’s what will have you hitting the muscles at the angle necessary for maximum width gains.

Just like with pull-ups, you’ll want to be sure that you perform this exercise in a very slow and controlled movement pattern. You should never jerk the weight upwards, using a swinging motion or you will instantly take muscular force out of the equation.

Instead, think of squeezing the elbows together, feeling the back muscles tighten and contract as you lift the weight up.

The back should also remain flat at all times, never assuming a hunched over position. If it does, you’ll put great strain on the back muscles and could eventually wind up experiencing an injury because of it.

2. Standing Wide Grip Pull-Overs

Pull-overs are a commonly performed exercise for hitting the lats and developing the back and now you can ensure they help increase the width of your back by performing them standing while using a wide grip.

It’s important when training back to always look at your grip pattern because this can have a profound difference in the way in which it shapes your physique.

In this case, wide grip is best.  Grab a hold of a lat pull down bar using a cable pulley with the widest grip you can.  Next, contract the abs hard and then using your lats pull the bar downward.

As you do this, try and keep the body as stationary as possible. If the abs are contracted maximally, you should find that you can do this without a problem.  If your abs are not contracted fully however, you’ll be likely to notice your body becoming quite unstable as you perform this move.

Once the bar is lowered, pause briefly and then control it on the way up. The great thing about using the cables is you’ll have maximum tension on the muscle the entire way through the exercise, so remain focused, squeezing and contracting the muscle throughout the entire range of motion.

1. Underarm Wide Grip Seated Row

Finally, the last of the moves that you’ll want to consider adding to your workout program is the underarm wide grip seated row.  This is a great alternative to the underhand grip barbell row noted above and is the right option for those who may be suffering from any sort of back issues.

Because you are sitting upright, you won’t be placing quite as much stress on the back, so will not have the same tension forces acting on your vertebrae.

When doing this move, you want to really think of pulling the weight back with just your back and not your arms, as many people have a tendency to call their biceps into play greatly when doing the exercise.

This move is typically best done using a cable machine, which again is great for keeping constant tension on the muscle tissues.

So if you want to increase the width of your back, these are the top moves to get into your workout program. You certainly don’t want to add all of them to your workout session at once, but rather, add 2-3 per workout, varying the rep range as you go.

Train some moves using a lower rep range, lifting maximally, and others using a slightly higher rep range, lightening the weight.

This will help ensure a continually changing stimulus being placed on the muscles, leading to ongoing strength and size gains. If you train smart, you can definitely reshape your body, getting the physique you desire.

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