How To Build A Strong Back

For all the bluster about carved abs and big biceps very little is ever said about having a strong back. Look around you, half of your co-workers have gone to doc for a back problems at some point and almost none of them have ever dead-lifted or squatted significant weight.

Strong back muscles help keep your spine in line, and makes it easier to have good posture because good posture and standing up straight takes more effort than hunching over.

I can never wrap my head around why people are so deathly afraid of heavy deadlifts. Just practice good technique and gradually increase the weights. Who the fuck said you had pick up 350? Try 135 and add a little to it.

How to build a stronger back, when you are weak


Lat Pull Downs

A favorite of mine for a long time. Develops your traps and upper back, great if you can’t do a pull-up since you are working out the muscles you need at the beginning of the pull-up movement. Its easier to perform the pull-ups from a dead hang if traps, lats and rhomboids are already strong.

Core Exercises

Front and Side Planks are great for all-around core strength and stability. If normal planks bore you try them with a 50 pound vest.

Sit-ups and crunches are old standby’s but I always found that both waste alot of time, energy and effort. Better solution: Go get a Perfect Ab-Carver, it gives you all the benefits of sit-ups without all the wasted effort or spinal compression. Free Solution: dead hang from a pull-up bar and bring knees into chest or bring both legs up straight to a 90 degree angle (like your body is the letter L)

People often don’t associate a strong back with a strong core but this is a huge mistake, the truth is; you really can’t have one without the other. You NEED both, the two work in synergy when you lift heavy…whether its groceries or a barbell. A strong back and core is a match made in heaven.

Pull-ups: The King of Body-weight Exercises

The fittest military guys (especially Army, Marines and NSW) do pull-ups and do them often. No other body-weight exercise works out more muscles in a single movement than pull-ups. To get full benefit you must start from a “dead hang” which is simply hanging still on the bar without feet touching the ground. Go for chin over the bar and don’t use any momentum swings  to get over the bar. ALL MUSCLE ALL THE WAY UP BABY!

A 4 x 4 scheme works fine starting out. Increase reps 1 per set per week(4×5, 4×6, etc,), the goal is to complete the the sets with good form. Better a few good pull-ups than shit-loads of half-assed ones. Don’t be afraid to use the pull-up machine if the strength isn’t there yet.

The Dead-Lift: King of All Exercises

There is no better feeling in the gym than making that barbell your bitch. Dead-lifts workout every muscle in your body; every part of your being is stressed when you dead-lift heavy. Its a deep visceral feeling.

For DL’s I keep my feet spread apart a little less than shoulder width and my back stays LASER-STRAIGHT. This is why you need good core strength; your core counterbalances and helps stabilize your spine. Lift from your HEELS and make sure the bar is close to your shins before the lift so you can lift into your “center of gravity”.

Routine is a matter of preference, some guys like doing a 5 x 5 routine, I don’t. I prefer the Body Of A Spartan routine where you do 10 HEAVY HEAVY single rep dead-lift. You get the most bang for your buck. The entire dead-lift movement is very taxing so why not just do it 10 times to get the pump instead of 25 times? Makes sense to me. My dead-lift went from 215 to 320 lbs in a month following Body Of A Spartan.

You must lift heavy to get strong. Incredibly simple and yet I always see the same guys dead lifting the same 95lbs day after day.

A strong back makes carrying life’s loads easier, a weak back will only bring pain and misery.

Go do some pull ups and dead lifts. NOW, or else live with a hunchback when you get old.



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3 comments… add one
  • Lloyd Mar 21, 2017

    Great post, friend. I had to chuckle at “I always see the same guys dead lifting the same 95lbs day after day.”

    Bonus exercise for future readers, from Body of a Spartan, the suitcase deadlift. Is what it sounds like: Dead lift that barbell with one hand like a suitcase. Alternate sides to keep it clean and mean.

    Effective as regular deads? Nah. But it’s fun to use your new, bigger back!

    • Marcus Harris Mar 21, 2017

      Yeah, suitcase deads are great for grip too. People look at you like you’re a monster when you do them in the gym!

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