I will be starting a new series where I go over fundamentals on training specific muscle groups, and specific considerations for each muscle group.
Today I am discussing, how to train the back! This article will be focussed on the goal of hypertrophy (muscle growth).
Here is what will be discussed:
- Specific Considerations
Volume is the foundation we build from for hypertrophy. The total amount of volume we do is what drives hypertrophy. We need to structure this volume properly and apply progressive overload, but volume is the foundational component that drives hypertrophy.
The back is a large muscle group. This means the volume range for the back starts at a decent point but also has a large range with a high upper end. The lower end of volume for muscle growth of the back is 10 sets. This is also known as the minimum effective volume (MEV, coined by Mike Israetel).
There are a lot of motor units and muscle fibers to be stimulated in the back, so it can handle quite a bit of volume. The upper end of volume (also known as maximum recoverable volume, MRV, also coined by Mike Israetel), refers to the upper end of volume for a specific muscle group that can produce results without exceeding our bodies’ recovery limits.
These volume landmarks are referring to weekly volume.
This means sticking between 10 and 25 sets for the back as a whole per week is likely a good range for producing muscle growth.
If you are a beginner, starting lower with volume and ending lower than the MRV might be a good idea. If you are more advanced, starting a little higher and ending closer to the MRV might be a good idea.
As you can tell from the statement of starting lower and ending higher, the amount of sets you perform gradually increases (progressive overload) throughout a training program, whether it be across 4, 8, 12, etc. weeks.
Training is the stimulus for muscle growth and muscle protein synthesis is what facilitates it. Muscle protein synthesis levels are increased following an adequate stimulus for muscle growth, which is most effectively achieved through resistance training.
We do not require the full amount of weekly volume in one session to trigger that increase in muscle protein synthesis.
Training a muscle group more than once per week is an effective and PROVEN way to grow more muscle than training once per week.
If you were to split your weekly back training volume into 2 or 3 sessions, it can be a really effective way to increase results. Even up to 4 sessions of back training a week can be beneficial. Monitor how you feel and recover with that frequency, but if you split the back volume up accordingly, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Try getting 48 hours of rest between training the same muscle group again.
Of course, individual preferences apply as well.
Not only does increasing training frequency increase the number of times muscle protein synthesis is stimulated during the week, but it also offers more opportunities for progressive overload.
Assuming you are allowing for adequate recovery, you should be able to increase the workload during each training session through progressive overload.
So if you do 8 reps on the cable pull-down for your first session, 9 for your second and 10 for your third, you can properly stimulate muscle growth more frequently.
The back is oftentimes a difficult muscle group to feel a mind-muscle connection with since we can’t see it working and it can feel like the exercise only uses the biceps. I assure you, it is using the back as well.
Slowing down your tempo can be an effective strategy to feel the back muscles stretching and contracting. Having a strong mind-muscle connection has been shown to be beneficial for hypertrophy.
The back has multiple muscle groups. In order to train it equally to prevent muscular imbalances, both visual ones and strength imbalances, different movement patterns are required.
For the upper and mid-back, which includes the lower and mid raps as well as the Rhomboids, rowing movements such as the classic barbell row are effective.
For the large Latissimus Dorsi muscle on the side of your back, pulling/pulldown exercises are best. This includes exercises like the lat-pulldown.
The reason these different exercises emphasize different muscle groups is because they follow the muscle fibers of those specific muscle groups more effectively, thus allowing those muscles to better contribute through strong stretches, but specifically through strong contractions.
- Barbell Row
- Cable Row
- Machine Row
- Dumbbell Row
- Helms Row
- Dumbbell Pullovers
- Machine Pull-Downs
- Cable Pulldowns
That’s The Article!
Those are my recommendations for back training. If you have ANY questions at all, leave them below in the comment section!
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 the use of this information after reading.