Do you have an extremely poor back? Has it cost you a few spots’ worth of placing in shows? At the local and regional level of shows, it is usually conditioning and structure that wins shows. At the national and professional levels, most bodybuilders already have superior shape and structure, and conditioning is usually pretty similar among the top 5 or 7 athletes in each class. At the lower levels of bodybuilding, having an excellent back is a rarity, as many people just getting into bodybuilding have spent their first few years of training focusing upon the showcase muscle groups of chest and arms. It’s never too late to make back a focus if you wish to go far in the sport of competitive bodybuilding, but the time to act is now. If your back is poor, there is only one person who can correct the situation: you.
The first thing you need to do if you want a bigger back is to start eating. Scrap whatever diet you’re on, and add ten to fifteen pounds to your frame with the addition of some clean protein sources and some slow-burning carbohydrates. Some fats in the form of fish oil caps won’t hurt either. You cannot grow new muscle, particularly on an area such as the back, without the addition of some size onto your frame. And that size only comes with weight gain. Gyms across America are littered with “lean-ish” bodybuilders who weight a lean 170 and will never develop impressive back thickness because they just can’t eat enough food to reach a point where they are 190 pounds.
Training for width is the most important aspect. You will want to begin using wide-grip chins in every workout. You may only be able to complete a few reps at a time, but that will change quickly as you add more to your daily workload. Thickness training is only slightly less important. The use of deadlifts and rows in particular will make the middle and lower back muscle pop a bit more, and you will look thicker from all angles. This lack of thickness on some competitors is obvious when they are stood next to competitors with complete backs.
Outside of the gym, you can also make a major difference in terms of back development as well. Daily flexing of the back will help greatly. Stretch the lats using a door jam. Spend some time just hanging from a chin bar or door jam. This will give you more width and better mind-muscle connection. Finally, you will want to begin evaluating your back development and tracking your progress (or lack thereof) so that there are no surprises the next time you step foot on the bodybuilding stage. You will see growth of various areas of the back within weeks of starting your new movements with heavier weight and more food. Tracking this growth with photographs will allow you to more accurately measure the return on your work investment, and will keep you keenly aware of your strengths as they emerge and weaknesses as they remain. Severe back lag can be defeated, but only with a strict regiment of eating, training, and back mind-muscle connection and awareness.