An Old School Back Workout For a Wider and Thicker Back

chest supported rear delt row

Get Golden-Era Back Workout for a Cobra Back

As the gyms and exercise equipment get better with new research and technology, more people are falling into the trap of relying solely on machines in their back workouts. A chiseled V-taper is the result of a carefully crafted workout.

While the machines can bring you the separation and definition, if your goal is the golden-era aesthetics, you’re better off sticking to the old school back workout. We’ll be focusing on compound movements for building width and thickness in your back.

Pull-ups – 50 Reps

Pull-ups should be a staple in your back workouts. Start your workout with 50 reps of military-style strict pull-ups. Don’t use momentum by swinging your legs or jerking to lift yourself up.

If you can’t complete the 50 reps in one set, use as few sets as possible. Shorten your rest periods between sets to keep the tension on your lats. Use a pull-up assist machine if you can’t perform bodyweight pull-ups.

Deadlifts – 3 Sets 8-6-4 Reps

Perform the deadlifts at the beginning of the workout to exhaust your backs. A good back workout should be as brutal as a leg workout done to the max. Deadlifts are a compound exercise and one of the key movements to build strength, conditioning and muscle mass.

Since you’ll be performing fewer reps on the deadlifts, your goal should be to move as much weight as possible. Make sure you’re don’t lose your form while performing the exercises listed in the workout.

Behind the Neck Lat Pulldowns – 3 Sets 15-12-10 Reps

Behind the neck lat-pulldowns can better recruit your lats as compared to the orthodox version. While the pulling exercises work the width of your back, the rowing movements work the thickness.

It’s important to have a mix of pulling and rowing movements to build a cobra back. People with stiffer shoulder joints can have a problem performing the exercise and should warm-up their rotator cuffs before beginning to train.

barbell rows

T-Bar Rows – 3 Sets 12-10-8 Reps

T-Bar rows are one of the most underutilized back exercises and are sadly fading out. If you don’t have access to a T-bar row machine at your gym, you can perform the exercise on a barbell by placing one side in a corner and attaching a V handle.

Bend over at your hips so your upper body forms a 60-degree angle with the floor. As you pull the bar towards your chest, pause and contract your lats at the top of the movement. Return to the starting position and repeat for the recommended repetitions.

Dumbbell Pullovers – 3 Sets 12-10-8 Reps

Dumbbell pullovers are incredibly effective in shaping the v-taper. Lie down across a flat bench and place your shoulders on the bench. Your knees should be bent, feet placed flat on the floor, and hips as close to the floor as possible.

Hold a dumbbell right above your chest with your elbows slightly bent. Maintain the slight bend in your elbows as you lift the dumbbell off your chest and lower the dumbbell to the floor when it passes over your head.

Barbell Rows – 3 Sets 12-10-8 Reps

Barbell rows target the upper and middle back and help in building the thickness in your back. Pulling the barbell towards your lower abdominal will target your middle back and bringing the bar towards the upper abs will train your upper back.

Using the wrist straps can help you get a better pump in the exercise as it eliminates the wrist and forearm recruitment. In the compound exercises like the barbell rows, your grip strength is more prone to fail before your back.

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*Header image courtesy of Envato Elements

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.