Guide to Training Back:

Fitness, Health & Wellness, Nutrition, Training, Weight lifting, Workout Program -

Guide to Training Back:

             In this week’s blog post, I break down the anatomy of the back and provide a few sample workouts that’ll take an individual’s training to the next level. To maximize a training program an individual, needs to understand the anatomical make-up of the targeted muscle group. Understanding the anatomical make-up of the muscle group allows the individual to design a training program that adequately targets each angle and muscle in the targeted group. Training major muscle groups can be extremely taxing on the body and take extended periods of time to fully recover therefore nutrition needs to be a focal point of a training program. I won’t touch on nutrition in this article but I will provide links to some of my other blogs below.


            The muscle group in the back is comprised of:

  • Trapezius
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Levator Scapulae
  • Rhomboid Major & Minor
  • Posterior Deltoid


            This muscle group is the second largest muscle group in the body behind the leg muscle group. There are many ways that an individual can train this muscle group whether it’s for strength, power, hypertrophy or endurance. The rep and set schemes are the underlying determinants for how the individual is going to train the given muscle group. I will provide strength focused and hypertrophy focused example workouts. Training this muscle group is a lot more complex than just doing “rows” or “deadlifts”. Targeting this muscle group from different angles ensure adequate muscle breakdown and helps to optimize the workout as a whole. Utilizing proper form and controlled reps also ensures that adequate muscle breakdown will occur.

            When training back, use hands as hooks and DO NOT wrap thumb around bar or cable attachment. This helps to solely engage the targeted muscle group versus allowing other muscle groups to aid in completion of the movement. Very few individuals train back correctly, so this variable is something I cannot stress enough. Simple things such as not wrapping one’s thumb over the bar or attachment make the biggest difference in training and can lead to greater results. Controlling the weight during the eccentric portion of movements will also lead to further progression and greater results. For example, on a seated cable row the weight should carry the individual forward but in a controlled fashion, rocking back and forth is WRONG and can lead to injury.

            Targeting muscle groups from different angles ensures the entire muscle is engaged and trained versus partially training the muscle. For example, if an individual performs a seated cable row (sitting down making a 90 degree angle with body) then the individual should perform dumbbell lawn mowers (one knee on free bench, pulling weight up while facing the ground) or barbell bent rows (providing a slight angle in the row) to alter the angle that the trapezius, lats and rhomboids are targeted. Due to the anatomical make-up of this muscle group, adequate muscle breakdown will NOT occur by repeating movements at the same angle.


Example Strength Focused Back Workout:


            Barbell Bent Rows: x 6, 6, 4, 4

            Wide-Grip Pull-Ups: 4 sets to failure

            Seated Cable Row: x 6, 6, 4, 4

            Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown: x 8, 8, 6, 6

            Upright Row: 3 x 6

            Cable Face Pull: 3 x 6

            Hyperextension: 3 x 12 (core exercise that trains lower back)


I personally do not perform deadlifts due to previous injuries but deadlifts can be performed while training back or while training legs.


Example Hypertrophy Focused Back Workout:


            Barbell Bent Rows: x 10, 8, 8, 6

            Wide-Grip Pull-Ups: 4 sets to failure

            Seated Cable Row: x 10, 10, 8, 8

            Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown: x 12, 10, 8, 8

            Upright Row: 3 x 10

            Cable Face Pull: x 10, 10, 8

            Hyperextension: 3 x 12 (core exercise that trains lower back)


            I hope this article helps explain the anatomical make-up of this muscle group and helps take one’s training to the next level. I will provide links to some of my other blog posts that touch on similar subjects that will help iron out some questions that may arise. Give these workouts and rep schemes a shot and let me know what you think. I appreciate everyone that took the time to read this.