For many body parts, attaining a pump is the key to muscle growth. If you are able to flush blood into the region, you are able to create growth. Picture the abs, or the forearms, or the shoulders. High-repetition routines with low weights tend to cut these muscle groups right up, and deliver some sparkling muscularity.
For other body parts, using heavy weight is an absolute must. You can do leg extensions for ten years, but you’ll never develop massive quads without doing squats and leg presses. You can do cable crossovers until you’re blue in the face. But until you pick up some dumbbells or a barbell and do some heavy chest presses, your pectorals will always be lacking. And with no body part is this belief more true than the back. Bodybuilders need to use compound movements with heavy weights to build a massive back. It’s that simple.
This movement allows a bodybuilder to let his powerlifter side show through. Even the great Ronnie Coleman, 8-time Mr. Olympia, would do doubles with deadlifts (two reps at 800 pounds) in the final weeks before the Mr. Olympia contest. Usually, choosing a rep scheme below 5 reps is a bad idea for bodybuilders. The muscles receive a powerlifting-style workout, but don’t get the full stimulation that bodybuilders require. With deadlifts, however, the stimulation is there, and then some. The jarring impact upon the body of those extremely heavy sets is very useful for stimulating muscle growth.
This movement shouldn’t be completed using the same low rep scheme that deadlifts allow. However it is still a very useful compound movement in the 6 to 12 repetition movement. Barbell rows require many cross-sections of the back to come into play to move the barbell through its range of motion.
Chins create back width like no other movement can. Use them weekly. Bodybuilders with higher bodyweight may need assistance from a spotter or through the use of machine chins, which reduce the workload placed on the back. If you’re a lighter athlete, you can attach a 45-pound plate or two to your weight belt using a chain, and increase the workload by 45, 90, or even 135 pounds when doing chins. This will inspire back thickness growth very quickly.
Don’t neglect your traps – barbell and dumbbell shrugs are essential for complete upper back development. Often, the biggest difference between an amateur and professional bodybuilder – visually – is that thick upper back. Shrugs help with this greatly.