Last updated on August 4th, 2023 at 08:55 am
The following muscle-building back workout may not have many exercises, but it will definitely force your lats to grow.
In fact, I’d even recommend setting yourself up for this workout in the same way you would for a tough leg workout.
So, make sure you eat beforehand, grab your belt, and swallow down some pre-workout.
It’s time to get heavy and intense.
The Muscle-Building Back Workout:
- Barbell Bent-Over Rows 6-8 reps x 3 sets
- Lat Pulldowns Drop Set 8 reps/10 reps Drop Set x 3 sets
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows 6-8 reps x 3 sets
- Lat Pushdowns Burnout 12 reps x 3 sets
Very Heavy Barbell Bent Over Rows
The first exercise is the primary compound movement we associate with back training, namely barbell bent-over rows.
However, I want you to go as heavy as you possibly can here.
It makes no difference whether you use an overhand or underhand grip, the main purpose of this first exercise is to go as heavy as you possibly can.
Perform 6 sets of bent-over rows with a total of 6-8 reps per set.
Take approximately 60-90 seconds rest between sets.
I just want to reiterate that this first back exercise requires you to go extremely heavy, as heavy as you can, and for all six sets of the movement.
Obviously maintaining proper form is also crucial, so be bent over at approximately a 45-degree angle and ensure your abs, core, and glutes are tight.
Now, because you are going extremely heavy with these sets you may find that you end up using some momentum to shift the weight, especially as you approach the latter sets.
This is absolutely fine, but you still need to use “controlled momentum”.
Therefore, don’t violently jerk the bar or perform an excessive jump while using your legs.
Sure, momentum and a slight “bounce” on the way up is fine, but as I say, make sure that this is controlled.
Drop Set Lat Pulldowns
Next is a drop set of lat pulldowns for a total of 3 sets.
Once more you want to go heavy, but not so heavy that you are forced to use momentum.
Personally, I like to really feel my lats working during pulldowns and I find the best way to achieve this is higher volume, but with slightly lighter weights.
Your drop set involves doing a set of lat pulldowns for 8 reps.
Then you want to decrease the weight to approximately half and then pump another 10 reps.
Take 60-90 seconds rest and repeat for two more sets, so 3 sets in total.
You’ll want to ensure that as you fatigue that your arms don’t take over.
I know that many trainees say that they typically feel lat pulldowns in the forearms, and while the forearms are activated this may also reveal that you’re not actually using your lats.
So, make a real effort to concentrate on the mind-muscle connection for your lat pulldown sets.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows
The final exercise in the muscle-building back workout is one of my favourites, namely the single-arm dumbbell row.
Once again, due to the bent-over position you should ensure that your abs, core, and glutes are contracted and tight.
This simply provides you with a stable from which to lift, as well as reducing the likelihood of a lower back injury, which can happen if you remain “loose” in the bent-over position.
You’ll want to go as heavy as you can, while performing 6-8 reps of both sides.
Take no more than 10-15 seconds rest between sides and 60-90 seconds rest between sets.
Perform a total of 3 sets.
When it comes to single-arm dumbbell rows you really want to focus on pulling the dumbbell towards your hips as opposed to your shoulder.
This will ensure that you activate and engage the lats much better.
Furthermore, if you are pulling towards the shoulder you’re more likely to use your rear delts, forearms, and biceps to row the weight.
So, really concentrate on bringing the dumbbell towards your hips and squeeze your lats hard at the top of the movement.
The final exercise of lat pushdowns is purely meant as a burnout exercise.
Therefore, a heavy load is not the optimal way to go, but rather keep it light and really feel those lats burning.
Furthermore, remember that this is a lat-focused exercise so be wary of not turning this into a tricep exercise.
Your arms will still have a bend at the elbow, but will remain much straighter than when you perform tricep pushdowns.
Ensure that you lift your chest as you push the bar down.
You may feel the need to rush through this final exercise, as your upper back and lats will be pretty fatigued by this point.
However, fight the urge to do so and ensure that every rep is performed in a slow and controlled manner.
Plus, you want to really concentrate on the mind-muscle connection here and really feel those lats working with every single rep.
Your aim is to complete 3 sets of 12 reps of lat pushdowns.
So, there you have hit, a fantastic bodybuilding back workout for mass.
As you can see, there’s no need for a huge number of exercises or even sets for that matter.
In order to build muscle you just have to lift heavy, use good form, keep the reps mid-range, while using a variety of training protocols, e.g. straight sets, drop sets, etc.
Here’s the exercises, reps, and sets again:
- Barbell Bent-Over Row – 6 sets x 6-8 reps
- Lat Pulldown Drop Set – 3 sets x 8 reps heavy/10 reps with half the weight
- Single-Arm Dumbbell Row – 3 sets x 6-8 reps
- Lat Pushdown Burnout – 3 sets x 12 reps
Time to switch to the lower body, so read more about the best exercises to target ALL 3 areas of the glutes.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.