Chris Bumstead Back Workout For A Sprawling Christmas Tree

5x Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead shares a massive back workout!

Believe us when we say there will be major posterior pounding on the Chris Bumstead back workout routine. Honestly, we would be disappointed if we did not have to crawl out of the gym by the end of the 5X Mr. Olympia Classic Physique champion’s training regimen. 

Building a V-taper is easier said than done. Your back is the second largest muscle group after legs. An effective back training session can be as taxing (if not more) than a leg workout. You need to target your back from every angle to ensure overall development.  

Check Out: Chris Bumstead Gives Answer On Whether or Not to Use Steroids

Chris Bumstead Stats


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  • Name: Christopher Adam Bumstead
  • Nickname: CBum
  • D.o.B: 2 February 1995 
  • Birthplace: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Height: 6’0” 
  • Weight: 225 pounds 
  • Chest: 51″ (130 cm)
  • Waist: 30″ (76 cm)
  • Bicep: 20″ (51 cm)

Chris Bumstead Story

The reigning Mr. Olympia Classic Physique champ was born in Ottawa, Canada. He was involved in multiple sports through his childhood, playing football, baseball, basketball, and hockey in high school.

CBum started lifting at the age of 14 and fell in love with working out. He went from 170 to 225 pounds between the ninth and twelfth grades, growing his legs the most


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After building what he thought was a good physique, Bumstead met his sister’s boyfriend (a pro bodybuilder), Iain Valliere, and things started to change for the better. Iain made Chris believe that he could compete and become a fierce competitor. 

Check Out: Iain Valliere Deadlifts 675lb Five Times Ahead Of 2021 Arnold Classic

In 2016, at the age of 21, he earned his pro card after taking home the IFBB North American Bodybuilding Championship trophy.

Chris Bumstead draws inspiration from the golden age bodybuilders. He focuses on keeping his waist small and building broad shoulders. It would be safe to say that CBum is one of the most popular bodybuilders of our time.

Bodybuilding legends like Jay Cutler have predicted that Chris could win the Mr. Olympia crown if he were to change divisions in the future. Given his monster size and razor-sharp conditioning, we would not be surprised to see him lift the Sandow a few years down the line. 

CBum back

Trivia: In 2021, Chris Bumstead won his third consecutive Mr. Olympia Classic Physique title at the age of 26. He was the runner-up in 2017 and 2018. 

Next Read: Chris Bumstead’s Rules For Cheat Meals & Alcohol

Chris Bumstead Back Workouts Principles

CBum follows a 5-day training split, and some of his favorite exercises include squats, incline dumbbell press, and bent-over barbell rows. He uses the following training principles to make the most of his back workout:


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1. Get the Form Right

Chris Bumstead is big on building a strong foundation. Before he starts prepping for a show, he takes a few weeks to work on his lifting form. Once in tune with the exercises, he adds weight to the bar (or machine) and gets after it.

Most rookies let their egos get the better of them in the gym. Remember – weightlifting and bodybuilding are two different sports. Chasing weights before nailing down your form can put you at risk of injuries.

If you are new to the fit lifestyle, do not hesitate to ask for help from more experienced lifters in your gym. Tip: If you are in it for longevity, you should steer clear of the broscientists. 

Next Read: 5 Uncomfortable Truths About Exercise Form

2. Do Not Pull With Your Biceps


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Many lifters use their biceps to pull the weight during back training. Doing this takes the tension off the back and puts it on your upper arms. If you have a more intense pump in your arms compared to your lats at the end of a back exercise, you are probably doing it wrong. 

Focus on pulling the weight using your elbows and keep them close to your sides while performing back exercises. Flaring out your elbows distributes the tension to your biceps and shoulders. 

For some people, gripping the dumbbell, barbell, or machine handle too hard has been known to ignite bicep and forearm recruitment. If you face similar issues, weightlifting straps can take the tension off your arms and transfer it to your target muscles.

Watch: Chris Bumstead Is The Next Generation Of Jacked And Shredded Bodybuilder

3. Focus on Lat Isolation


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You should be able to see your lats and shoulder blades move during your back exercises. If you only notice arm movement, you are not following a full range of motion. On top of that, with every rep, pause and squeeze the life out of your lats. 

For optimal lat recruitment and stimulation, you need to follow a full range of motion and contract your muscles with every rep. Just going through the motions for the sake of it is not going to cut it. You need to have a strong mind-muscle connection to make the most of your workouts. 

If you face muscle or strength imbalances, unilateral lifts will help better isolate your lats and fix the issues. Research has shown that most athletes can benefit immensely from adding unilateral training to their training regimen.

Related: Chris Bumstead Shows Off Dungeon Style Gym and Training

4. Use Different Grips

Chris bumstead back workout

Switching grips can make your back light up like the 4th of July. A pronated (palms facing downward), supinated (palms facing upward), and neutral (palms facing each other) all target your back differently. 

You also have the option of adding more variations in your back training by using W or V-bars during cable exercises. Having a mix of these grips in your back workouts can ignite muscle growth and help grow that sprawling Christmas tree. 

5. Include a Ton of Variety


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You need to constantly add variety to your training to ensure that you never hit a wall. Performing the same exercise over and over for weeks on end is a sure-shot way of hitting a plateau. 

Chris Bumstead changes up the start of his back workout after every three back days. He rotates through deadlifts for three back workouts, then switches to rack pulls for the next three sessions, and then skips both, moving right to dumbbell rows for the last three workouts of the cycle.

Apart from switching exercises, you could also add variety to your workouts by using advanced training principles like supersets, dropsets, intraset stretching, and experimenting with the number of reps, sets, and time under tension (TuT)

Must Read: Four Plateau-Busting Strategies To Apply To Your Training

6. Keep Rest Between Sets to a Minimal

Chris pose

If you are eating 5,000 monster calories like Chris Bumstead, you need to utilize every opportunity you can find to burn them off. While performing the Chris Bumstead back workout, limit your rest duration between sets and exercise to less than 60 seconds. 

Note: Do not waste your resting time checking Instagram or clicking selfies. Use it to stretch your muscles and pose. Posing can improve your mind-muscle connection and help induce muscle-ripping pumps.

Related: Chris Bumstead Details 5,000-Calorie Diet During Bulking Phase

Chris Bumstead Back Workout


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If you have seen Chris Bumstead hitting back poses on stage or his Instagram page, you know there are no weak spots in his posterior muscle chain. Let kids near CBum while he is posing, and they might end up hanging lights and stockings on his sprawling Christmas tree. 

Building thickness in his already-wide back is one of Chris Bumstead’s back workout goals. 

During Mr. Olympia 2021 presser, Bumstead explicitly mentioned that his back gains were on another level, and he had added 10 pounds of muscle mass just in his back. 

Watch: Dennis James – Can Chris Bumstead Improve His Back Enough To Beat Breon Ansley?

Chris Bumstead Back Training Routine

Here is the Chris Bumstead back workout that will help you achieve similar results:

1. Deadlift: 6 sets of 6-8 reps


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  1. Stand behind a barbell with a shoulder-width stance and your knees slightly bent. 
  2. Hinge at your hips and bend slightly at your knees. 
  3. Push back your butt while keeping your core engaged so that your back stays flat.
  4. Squat down and bend at your knees to grab the bar with a mixed grip – one hand in supinated and the other in a pronated position.
  5. Keeping your core tight, push through your heels, and lift the weight, straightening your knees first, keeping your back flat, and then reversing the hinge at your hip to stand up.
  6. Pause at the top of the movement and contract your lats and shoulder blades. 
  7. Return to the starting position in a controlled motion.
  8. Repeat for recommended reps.

Check Out: Chris Bumstead Answers: Is Classic Physique Easier Than Men’s Open? | GI Vault

2. Single-Arm Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Row: 4 sets of 10-12 reps (each arm)


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Rather than using a staggered stance on dumbbell rows, Chris Bumstead likes to square his feet to the bench where he stabilizes his body with his resting arm. It makes the movement more concentrated. 


  1. Set an incline bench at a 60-degree angle to the floor.
  2. Place your left hand on the edge of the inclined side of the bench, take a step back, and stand with a narrower than shoulder-width stance.
  3. Grab a dumbbell with your right hand using a neutral grip.
  4. Pull your elbow back and upwards towards the roof without letting it flare out. 
  5. Pause and contract your lat at the top of the movement.
  6. Return to the starting position with a slow and controlled motion.
  7. Repeat for recommended reps before switching sides.

3. Seated Cable Row: 4 sets of 10-12 reps


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Use a V-handle attachment on the cable row machine. To hit your lower lat, make sure you are performing seated rows low – below your belly button. 


  1. Sit on the cable row machine with your knees bent and grab the V-bar attachment with a neutral grip.
  2. Position yourself with your knees slightly bent and so that you have to reach to grab the handle with outstretched arms yet without curling the lower back over.
  3. Pull the handle toward your lower abdomen without using momentum and swinging back and forth.
  4. Keep your torso upright and chest raised throughout the movement.
  5. Contract your shoulder blades and lats at the top of the movement.
  6. Return to the starting position with a controlled motion.
  7. Repeat for recommended reps.

4. Close Grip Lat Pulldown (rope attachment): 4 sets of 12-15 reps


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Incorporating both close and wide-grip pulldowns in the Chris Bumstead back workout help target different posterior muscles. 


  1. Sit on the pulldown machine with an upright torso.
  2. Secure your legs under the thigh pad.
  3. Grasp the rope attachment with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). 
  4. While keeping your chest raised, pull the rope down until your elbows move behind you.
  5. Keep your elbows close to your body throughout the movement. 
  6. Pause and contract your shoulder blades and lats at the bottom of the movement.
  7. Slowly return to the starting position. 
  8. Repeat for recommended repetitions. 

5. Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown: 2 sets of 12-15 reps (dropset)


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Wide-grip lat pulldowns consist of dropsets. After performing 12 reps, you will drop down the weight and perform another 15 reps. Choose a weight that will make you hit failure in the dropset. 


  1. Choose your weight, and sit down on the pulldown machine with an upright torso.
  2. Adjust the thigh pad so that your legs fit snuggly under the support.
  3. Grasp the bar with a pronated (overhand) grip, with your hands more than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Pull down the bar until it is a few inches away from your upper chest.
  5. Pause and contract your shoulder blades and lats at the bottom of the movement.
  6. Return to the starting position with a controlled motion.
  7. Repeat for recommended reps.

6. Dumbbell Pullover: 4 sets of 10-12 reps


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While performing the dumbbell pullover, focus on a deep stretch and only come about 3/4th of the way up to keep tension on the lats.


  1. Lie across a stable flat bench. Your upper back, neck, and head should be fully supported.
  2. Plant your feet shoulder-width apart on the floor.
  3. Hold a dumbbell at its neck with both hands.
  4. Extend your arms toward the ceiling, over your chest. Your palms should be facing each other, and your elbows slightly bent.
  5. As you inhale, extend the weights back and over your head, keeping a strong back and core. 
  6. Exhale slowly and come about 3/4th of the way up.
  7. Repeat for recommended reps.

Related: Golden Era Lifts: 5 Exercises From The Iconic Era You Need To Try

7. Back Extension (bodyweight): 2 sets to Failure 


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Back extension is one of the most effective ways of training your lower back. CBum performs two bodyweight sets of back extensions to failure.


  1. Position yourself on the back extension machine with your hips on top of the cushioned pads and your feet secured under the leg anchor.
  2. Your body should be in a straight line at the starting position. 
  3. Place your arms behind your head or cross them in front of your chest.
  4. Lower your torso until your head is a few inches off the floor. 
  5. Return to the starting position explosively and lift your torso a few inches.
  6. Pause and contract your back for a couple of seconds.
  7. Repeat for recommended reps.


By the end of the Chris Bumstead back workout, your muscles will be begging for mercy. Remember – Do not engage in ego lifting. If you do not feel a pump after every set, you should lower the weight and focus on contracting your back with every rep. 

Put in the work, and the Gods of bodybuilding shall bless you with the physique of your dreams. Good luck!

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Vidur Saini
Vidur is a fitness junky who likes staying up to date with the fitness industry and loves publishing his opinions for everyone to see. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel.