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How To Get A Thicker Wider Back: Exercises For Bigger Back Muscles

Updated on July 24, 2013
Me doing pull ups using a pull up bar.
Me doing pull ups using a pull up bar. | Source

Pull Ups & Chin Ups

Pull ups and chin ups work your back, shoulders, abs, chest and biceps. If you do a variety of pull ups and chin ups you don't really need to do any other back exercises. Your body weight would probably be enough but you can wear a weight belt or weighted backpack if you feel you need more. I like pull ups and chin ups because they are very simple and very effective like push ups. The only problem with pull ups and chin ups is that you need something to grab that will hold your body weight and is high enough off the ground.

You can buy a pull up bar, use a tree branch or find something else. If you find something but it is not quite high enough you can bend you legs. If you have trouble pulling yourself start by focusing on the downwards motion. Lower yourself down and then stand up to get back into the raised position. Since pull ups are one of the best exercises you can do I highly recommend you find a way to include them as part of your workout routine. Keep an eye out for things you can do pull-ups on or build something.

As a last resort you might be able to use 2 chairs. Grab onto the top of the chairs and pull yourself up. To vary your pull up routine you can change your grip from shoulder width to a narrow or wide grip. Your palms can face towards you or away from you. The position of your legs can also be changed. Instead of stopping when your chin gets past the bar you can choose to raise yourself up farther so your upper body is past the bar.

Bent Over Barbell And Dumbbell Rows

Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart. Bend over, kneel down and grab a barbell. Stand back up so your knees are slightly bent and your torso is horizontal. Do the exercise by slowly lifting the weight up with your arms and slowly lowering it back down so it goes from just below your knees to your waist. Keep the bar as close as possible to your body and only move your arms during the exercise. Your legs and torso should not be moving. Use an overhand grip. This exercise could also be done using a dumbbell. When doing bent over dumbbell rows you can lean on a bench, table, couch or bed.

Dead Lifts

Start by standing in front of a barbell that is on the floor. Bend down and grab the barbell. Then get back up. You lift with your legs. Your arms remain close to your body. When standing the barbell should be touching your thighs. Your hands should be shoulder width apart. Lower the barbell back to the ground. Then do it again. This exercise is usually done with a lot of weight. You should not try to do it until failure.


Since you are trying to bulk up you should be focused on increasing your strength. Do sets of 12 reps or less. If you can do more than 12 reps in one set you should think about increasing the weight. Don't try to increase the number of reps per set or the total number of reps at the cost of good form. Letting the weight drop instead of lowering it or using momentum to help you lift the weight will hurt your progress. Cheating will not make your back wider and thicker any faster. When you can no longer maintain proper form it is time to rest. It is better to finish with a partial rep than to cheat.


You should experience muscle fatigue fairly quickly with these exercises. If you are working out at home you may want to workout two or three times a day. Workout for 5 minutes, rest for a while and then workout again later in the day. That is what I do with exercises like pull ups. If you workout at a gym you can give your upper body a break by exercising your legs before doing more back exercises. Working out your back muscles five or six days a week is not necessary and it could hurt your progress. Pay attention to how you feel and how well you perform. If you don't think your muscles recovered enough from the previous day then give them give those muscles a day off.


The exercises I mentioned are difficult. I highly recommend that you exhale when you lift and inhale when you lower the weight. It will make the exercise easier. Breath in deeply, then let it. Don't hold your breath. You should be able to hear yourself inhaling and exhaling. The way you breath makes a big difference. With the exercises I mentioned you should be able to easy keep your breathing in sync with the movement. If the breathing is fast then you are moving faster than you should be. I find that focusing on my breathing tends to make the exercise feel easier.


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