Since I had my first taste of weight training, back day has always been my favorite. There’s just something about walking out of the gym having my back pumped and full that gives me a certain sense of accomplishment and leaves me feeling on top of the world.
Now for building a wide muscular back, wide grip pull ups, chin ups, and heavy deads are king. Honestly, you could probably do just those for the rest of your life and have an unbelievably strong and impressive physique. The problem with this however is well… sticking to just 3 exercises for the rest of your life would get boring! So while I never neglect the basics, throwing in a couple back workout finishers every so often is a great way to change things up as well as work the muscles from a bit of a different angle pumping up the back, rear delts, and traps like no other.
Below are 5 intense back workout finishers, sure to have you leaving the gym feeling jacked!
1. Rear delt flyes on 45 degree back raise
This exercise is a great way to pump up the traps all the way down to the center of the back, lats, hammies, glutes, low back, and core all in one simple movement.
It was taught to me by a seasoned competitive bodybuilder who worked out at the same gym that I did when I was prepping for my first bodybuilding competition and became one of my bread and butter movements for the final six weeks leading up to show time.
Just get pick up a set of light dumbbells-and by light I mean less than 15 pounds or less light-and set them on the floor in front of a 45 degree hyper extension machine. With feet secured and pad at hip height, pick up weights and lift body using glutes, hams, and lower back. Spread arms apart from one another in the motion of a rear delt raise. Squeeze the center of the back before returning to start position and busting out another rep.
I like to save these as a finisher because despite being a light weight movement, these cook a lot of muscles at once. Stick to a three sets of 10-12 rep range or hit them rest pause fashion.
2. Supermans with lat squeeze
If you didn’t know from my previous bodyweight training article, Rhianna is a beast when it comes to bodyweight training and this is one of her favorite back working finisher.
The superman with lat squeeze are a more challenging take on the traditional superman movement, sure to have the whole backside of your body from traps all the way to glutes and legs feeling the burn.
On a mat or carpet, lie face down and extend arms in front of you, leaving a slight bend in the elbow and keeping palms facing the floor. Simultaneously, raise arms and legs from floor as if you’re a superhero taking flight and keep core still. Focusing on using your lower back muscles, raise chest and thighs off of the ground too as high as they can comfortable go, giving the lower back a nice squeeze. Hold in position and pull elbows back as if performing a pull up or lat pulldown. Squeeze! Extend arms back out in front and then slowly relax muscles and return arms and legs to the floor.
This is one rep. Shoot for 3 sets of 5-10 this way, or hold one rep anywhere from 10 seconds to one minute for a maximum time under tension rep that’ll have you shaking.
3. Inverted rows
Up until recently, I always thought of inverted rows as more of something for beginners to do when building up enough lat strength to get their first set of pull-ups. Done correctly however, this movement can be a legitimate addition to an upper body routine to add mass to even the most advanced lifter’s back.
The exercise is simple. You can use either a sturdy barbell in a squat rack or smith machine, dip bars, gymnastics rings, or a suspension trainer. Grab onto the bar or rings and use a box or bench to elevate feet so that your body is parallel or higher to the floor. Pull chest up to the bar and give the lats a good squeeze. Return to start position and hit another rep.
The key to challenging yourself with these is to slow down and really squeeze the lats hard at the top of the movement. I myself prefer the suspension trainer or dip bars for them because you can go past the point where a barbell would stop you and get a greater squeeze. 4 sets of 12 or 3-4 rest pause sets is good. Remember take em slow and don’t break form for this exercise to be effective!
4. Pull up negatives
Heavy weighted pull-ups and chins are my number one lat builder no questions asked. So what better way to finish them off than performing a few slow controlled sets of negatives?
First, perform a pull-up. At the top of the movement, have a workout partner pull down on your traps, not too hard but with enough tension that it takes 5 seconds to fully extend your arms back to the bottom of the movement. Explode back up to the bar (spotter may have to assist) with another pull up and hit another two reps done this way. Rest for one minute and repeat so that 3 sets are completed.
With the back and bicep muscles being held under tension for over 15 seconds per set, this move is sure to have them screaming!
I categorize this exercise as a finisher but actually prefer to do these right after my weighted pull ups or chin ups rather than holding off till the end of the workout. I feel that I get the most out of them this way going back to back with my main pulling movement.
5. Band pull a parts superset with shrugs
This is another exercise that’ll have the traps, rear delts, and upper back on fire!
For this one you’ll need a resistance band and a moderately heavy set of Dumbbells or weight plates. With arms extended out straight, grip the band and spread arms apart in a similar fashion to rear delt flyes, just with the body upright rather than bent over. Take these very slow and try to feel every muscle squeeze during each rep. Anywhere from 12-20 is a good set.
Next, pick up a set of Dumbbells or grab 45 pound plates and let them hang at the sides. Perform 12 or so shrugs, really squeezing the shoulders to ears at the top of the movement. Going back and forth between the two exercises for 3 sets should get the job done.
An example of a back dominant upper body day:
As I said in my previous article I’m following more of an upper/lower type of workout split. Last week I covered how I incorporate finishers for a shoulder dominant workout, so this week I’ll give an example for big back day. My main lift of course is the weighted chin ups, so the goal of this workout is to get stronger on those. Dumbbell bench and military presses are used for assistance, and some pull up negatives and rear felt flyes are thrown in as finishers to pump up the lats, traps, and rear delts, leaving the back pumped up and full.
- Weighted chin ups RPT 3×5,6,8
- Pull up negatives 3×3 (5 second negative for 3 sets)
- Flat dumbbell bench press RPT 3×5,6,8
- Seated DB military presses RPT 3×6,8,10
- Rear delt flyes on 45 degree back raise 3×12
Eat, sleep, and train hard! And share this article with a friend in need of a killer back workout! God bless!
Check with a physician or qualified healthcare provider before embarking on any changes made to lifestyle, training, supplementation, or eating.