Back is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind muscle group for many people. Unlike the chest, shoulders, arms, and abs, it doesn’t easily catch your eye the way a biceps stretching out of a T-shirt sleeve or a ripped sixer does. Even more importantly, it can’t be scrutinized for weaknesses when you’re looking straight into a mirror.
The fix is simple—not easy, mind you, but simple. Just give your back the same attention as you give those other body parts and take the time to identify any developmental weaknesses.
These five tips will help you cover your back from every angle and build a complete upper body, from deep thickness around the spine to flaring, cobralike lats.
5. Row Big
Rowing is many things—uncomfortable, tough, sometimes brutal. Still, there’s nothing quite like a basic barbell or dumbbell row to widen and thicken the back from every angle. The only problem: the way most lifters row, their lower backs give out before their lats get any love.
If that sounds familiar, drop the free weights and try the single-arm landmine row, aka, the Meadows row. This bad boy—a favorite of IFBB pro bodybuilder John Meadows—is performed using a barbell slid into a landmine apparatus on one end. If your gym doesn’t have a landmine, wedge the empty end of a barbell into a corner, or use a T-bar row station. It allows you to go heavy while having just a bit more stability, putting the stress where it should be and not where it shouldn’t.
Stand in front of the loaded end of the bar, perpendicular to it. Bend at the hips so your back is angled slightly higher than parallel to the floor and grab the end of the bar with the inside hand using a palms-down grip as if you’re about to do a dumbbell row. Pull the bar, bringing your elbow and shoulder blades back as your hand comes up toward your side. You can also brace your other forearm on the same-side thigh for balance.