Are you looking for a full back workout routine? Well, you have come to the right place! Today I will be giving you a comprehensive back training session that you can tailor towards the goal of strength or hypertrophy!
Let’s not waste time… onto exercise number 1!
Exercise #1 – Primary Deadlift:
The first exercise on the list is some sort of deadlift variation! I chose this as the first exercise as it can be trained heavy, and allows us to target our lower back before getting into the upper back!
A deadlift variation will activate a large number of muscle groups which allows us to train this exercise heavy and apply progressive overload. While it may not be the best for developing one’s upper back, there are still benefits for that area too!
The primary reason I am choosing this movement is to lay a strong base to build from and to get our lower back work done off the start!
One last benefit is, the deadlift will get the rest of our back ready to go for our upper back work!
So what deadlifts will we be doing?
For the goal of strength, I recommend the standard conventional deadlift. We can train this variation heavier than others and it will activate our back more than a sumo-deadlift will.
I would suggest performing between 3 and 5 sets done between 3 and 6 reps.
Conventional Deadlift Technique By Jeff Nippard:
For the goal of hypertrophy, I would recommend the Romanian deadlift. This exercise doesn’t have the potential to be trained as heavy as a standard deadlift, however, it will activate our lower back more due to the angle of our back during the exercise.
Since we can’t train this movement as heavy as the standard deadlift, the benefit is being able to train it effectively with slightly higher reps while giving more stimulus for our lower back. I would suggest using 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps for the Romanian deadlift!
Romanian Deadlift Technique From Jeff Nippard:
Exercise #2 – Primary Rowing Exercise:
Now we have our secondary exercise that will be used for developing our mid-back. There will be a twist that we put on this for the goal of strength, however.
The exercise I would recommend for strength is the back extension dumbbell row. This exercise allows us to get in solid volume for our mid-back while having involvement from the glute and hamstrings that will transfer well to benefit our deadlift.
I would suggest using 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for this exercise!
Back Extension Technique By Athlean-X (Skip to 5:14):
For the goal of hypertrophy, I would suggest using a 2 handle horizontal cable row. This specific attachment allows us to achieve a greater mind-muscle connection while sacrificing little in regards to the weight we can use!
I would suggest using 4 sets of 10-12 reps for this exercise!
2 Handle Horitzonal Cable Row Technique By John Rusin (Don’t Worry About The Band):
Exercise #3 – Primary Pull-Down Exercise:
Our next exercise will be focussed on developing the lats!
For the goal of strength, I would implement a straight arm pulldown! This will help get in solid volume for our lats, but more important to the goal of strength, it will develop the strength and stability of this muscle.
The primary benefit of this exercise is straight arm scapular strength. This is the exact function we need to keep the bar close to us in the deadlift… so it’s perfect!
I would suggest 3 sets of 10-12 reps for this exercise.
Straight Arm Pulldown Technique By Jordan Syatt:
For the goal of hypertrophy, we will be implementing some uni-lateral work! This will come in the form of a single-arm lat-pulldown!
This exercise is perfect for training uni-laterally to help fix or prevent muscle imbalances. It is also great for achieving a strong mind-muscle connection. Since we won’t be able to train this exercise very heavy, it is perfect for using higher reps to finish off the lats!
I would suggest performing this exercise with roughly 4 sets done in the 15+ rep range!
Uni-Lateral Lat-Pulldown Technique By Testosterone Nation:
Optional #4 Exercise – Mid Back and Lat Superset!
Who doesn’t love a good superset! If you’re looking to get a little more volume in to help retain muscle during a strength program, or get in some additional volume to build that muscle for the goal of hypertrophy, I would highly recommend paying attention to this!
The superset is very simple. You start with either a rowing machine or pull-down machine and whichever one you didn’t start with, you do after.
I would suggest using 3 sets done between 12 and 15 reps for each exercise.
If you’re training for strength, I would not suggest going to failure as muscle building is not our primary goal and it would only create more fatigue than needed!
For the goal of hypertrophy, this is the perfect time to go to failure and really exhaust all those muscles so they get the most volume possible. You may even get some muscle-building benefits from potential metabolite build-up.
Circumstances to Consider:
Well everyone, that’s the workout! While this is a really good guideline for the vast majority of people, there are specific circumstances to consider:
- Strength Specific: If your goal is strength, there may be other exercises more suited towards that goal for YOU! What I mean by this are exercises that may not even work the back (so they wouldn’t be included), such as the hip thurst to develop glute strength.
- The order of exercises may change depending on your weak points. For example, you may perform the lat movement before the mid-back movement if the lats are a weak point of yours. If you perform the lat movement first, you may want to use a standard lat-pulldown followed by a unilateral cable row. This will help us effectively use our energy as the workout progresses.
- This is just a back focussed workout. It’s most optimal to build muscle by training a muscle group 1-2 times per week. You may want to implement another back workout during the week if, for example, that is a weak point of yours. Or, you may add some biceps or triceps work to this routine as a way of training those muscle groups more frequently.
That’s All She Wrote!
That’s the article everyone! Do you have a goal of strength or hypertrophy and are looking for a great routine to get the ball rolling? With these exercises and recommendations, as well as other specific recommendations afterwards, I am confident that this routine will be of tremendous benefit to you!
If you do try it out, let me know how you liked it! Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comment section below and you can count on a response from me!
Here are some other articles that may be beneficial for your knowledge!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.