When it comes to back exercises, most men favor pullups and lat pulldowns. It's no wonder, since these two movements primarily target the latissimus dorsi (a.k.a. lats), your largest back muscle. And that probably explains why the average guy's back workout rarely consists of anything else. Trouble is, "largest" doesn't mean "only." Think of it this way: Focusing solely on your lats is sort of like working your chest but skipping your abs; and you'd never treat your "front" that way.
"Training the muscles surrounding your lats, particularly your rhomboid and trapezius muscles, will quickly add strength and size to your upper body," says C.J. Murphy, owner of Total Performance Sports, in Everett, Massachusetts. Your rhomboids and trapezius stabilize your shoulder blades, which allow your shoulder joints to move your arms in every direction. By developing these muscles, you'll add mass to your upper back and rear shoulders, and see improvements in every upper-body lift.
How to Do This WorkoutThis four week plan will help you chisel your back in about 25 minutes a week. Before you begin, complete the workout progress diagnostic. Then follow this workout and retest yourself every week. You'll perform the assigned workout only once during the week.
- Bigger Muscle This workout trains your rear deltoids, rhomboids, and trapezius—all commonly neglected muscles of your upper body. By shoring up these weak spots, you'll pack on muscle and build a more symmetrical physique.
- A Wider Upper Back The pullup and lat pulldown in this workout are slightly different from standard versions. You'll initiate each move by sliding your shoulder blades down. This allows your lats to contract through a larger range of motion, so they develop fully.
- Total-Body Strength The deadlift is more than just a muscle builder for your lower back and hamstrings. It strengthens your back from top to bottom and conditions your "posterior chain"—all the muscles on the back of your body—to work in coordination.