A big, thick, wide, muscular masculine male back is quite impressive. You look powerful because you are powerful. You can do more. It gives you the good kind of muscle weight. The kind that makes you hard to push around. Just sitting around normally, it gives you presence. It takes up a lot of space.
I have been training the heck out of my back lately and it shows. It's thicker and wider than ever.
I've had a good back for quite awhile, but now it feels like a big, thick oak door behind me.
I feel stronger and more powerful than ever. And I am in my 50's.
I wish I had known some of the exercise techniques I have learned lately. I think my back would have really blown up when I was younger.
I train my masculine male back with a small variety of exercises twice a week.
Since I mostly train twice a week, I am training back, in some form, on all my training days.
Your back is a very large muscle, or it least it should be. So it can take a lot of work. And my back is responding to all this work in a big way.
I am still careful though. Even if your back feels great, when training back you still need your other body parts and some of my body is still recovering from recent injuries and past mistakes.
I have to always be careful with my shoulders.
So I avoid any pull-downs. I like pull-downs, I used to do a lot of them. But they seem to really hurt my shoulders now. At the top of the movement it always feels like weight is going to rip my shoulders out of their sockets. Afterwards, I struggle to feel good again.
I find it's best to stop doing things that hurt me.
I've always been a little too heavy for pull-ups. These really pull my shoulders out. Leaner guys seem to do well with these. I've never liked them. I don't know how a bigger, or older guy can progressively make gains on them without injuring your shoulders.
My right elbow is still tender from an injury nearly 2 years ago.
I have to be careful on the volume of any movement that stresses my elbow.
Pushing and pulling movements stress my elbow so I can't just do the volume of work I'd like to do. Even though it seems like my back could take even more work, my elbow and shoulders cannot.
My main back exercise is bent rows. From all the anecdotal evidence it is the key movement to building a thicker, stronger masculine male back.
I do these as my second exercise after bench presses on my chest/back/arm day.
My benching takes about 30 minutes.
I take another almost 30 minutes for bent rows. I take my time between the work sets and because I am already tired from the benching.
I bench and row progressively heavier every workout with multiple work sets, so I need time between sets to recover.
My bent rows are tracking right along with my bench presses. From my research your bent row weight ought to stay around your bench press weight. This helps your body to stay balanced.
This may seem like a lot of weight if you have a decent bench of 200 pounds or more. And it is a lot of weight when you are bent over.
A stronger back will help your posture. If your back is weak there is no way to have good posture. The weight of your chest and belly will always be pulling you forward. This is the classic look of men as they age and even of young men who do not train or who do not train properly.
I do see some big men, with big bellies, with good posture. They have massive backs to pull their shoulders back and hold their bellies. It's better to not have so much belly, but this look is still better than the hunched forward look.
A bigger, thicker back
helps your bench press too. It makes the bar path travel a little
less. Plus it helps with the explosion off the chest if you can get the proper set up and leg drive as I go over in this article - Masculine Male Chest.
Here was my recent bent row workout
5/45, 5/95, 5/135, 2/185, 5/240, 5/240, 8/185, 8/185
The first number is the repetitions. The second number was the weight. The first 4 sets were warmups. There were 2 work sets of 5 reps for 240 pounds. I followed that up with 2 back off sets of 8 reps of 185 pounds.
I use straps on the heavy sets but not a belt. I keep as perfect a form as I can with my low back tensed up tight.
I do these as shown by Athlean-X in an explosive style as taught in the video below.
Jeff has a great explanation at the beginning. But if you are short of time scroll to the 3:10 mark to see how to do one of the best bent row versions to develop incredible back strength, power and size. And avoid excessive stress on your lower back.
Key form guides
do these later in my workout when I am already tired and beat. So the
weight is climbing very slowly. I have to be very careful with my shoulders
on this one. Be especially careful to not let the weight drop too fast and pull on your shoulders too hard.
Recent 1 Arm Dumbbell Row Workout
The first number is the repetitions. The second number was the weight. I did not do any warmups, just jumped right into the work sets since my back was already warmed-up from the barbell bent rows. Plus I am getting quite tired and am already over an hour into my workout. I am starting to really want to go home.
When you do these really focus on driving your elbow back. This shift in focus puts the emphasis on the back rather than the biceps.
I deadlift once every other week. The next week I squat. I find for older guys like me, deadlifting once every 2 weeks and squatting every 2 weeks is enough. My knees feel good most of the time. My low back feels good most of the time.
Yes, the weight doesn't go up so fast when you're lifting these big lifts infrequently. But they do go up if you concentrate on making them go up.
Recent Deadlift Workout
5/135, 4/135, 3/185, 1/225, 5/300.
The first number is the repetitions. The second number was the weight. I did 4 warm-ups and one work set.
You can see that the number of warmup reps are low. I don't like to do high rep warmup sets to save energy for the real sets. I used to do high rep warmup sets back in my 20's. That was wrong. You should only do enough warmups to be warm and build up to your work weight set. You need to feel great for your work sets, not fatigued.
The work set weight is not that high, but I did have hernia surgery 6 months ago so I am slowly building up my deadlift weight. My goal is to get up into the 400's for 5 reps.
Deadlifts are so taxing that many trainers recommend only ONE work set. That works for me. I know I feel like I could not do another set
I do these as taught by Starting Strength in this video.
More on the benefits of deadlifting from Starting Strength
Favorite quote -
An exercise that works many muscles at once spreads the work over the whole body, thus keeping the majority of the stress off of any one single joint or muscle – while at the same time making the whole system strong because of the accumulating load. Every muscle and every joint that contributes to the most natural movement the body can perform receives precisely the right amount of its share of the work – if you do the deadlift correctly.
I am starting to love rack pulls. They are the favorite of some of my inspirational young lifters who focus on getting yoked.
I work the rack pulls on my squat days. So every other workout. I wouldn't think you would want to do those heavy rack pulls on the same workout as your heavy deadlifts.
Recent Rack Pull Workout
5/135, 5/225, 5/315, 5/365.
set is the work set with 5 reps of 365 pounds. With that hernia surgery behind me I think I should just be able to keep adding 10 pounds a workout for months.
I shrug once a week, every week. After shoulder presses and deadlifts one week and after shoulder presses, squats and rack pulls the next.
You are going to need to shrug to cap your masculine male back with larger traps.
I try to get a real heavy set at the end. I don't really do the power shrug style as explained by Steve Shaw in the video below. I might have to set the pins a little lower.
5/135, 5/225, 5/315, 5/465
Last set is the work set with 5 reps of 455 pounds. I see no reason the weight will not just keep climbing up, especially if I can do these in the power shrug style.
Again, I had the hernia surgery 6 months ago and started training a month later at very light weights.
I also have to be careful with these big weights that they don't hurt my elbow or shoulder.
You will need to use straps and a belt in the power rack.
When training your masculine male back you will be using a lot of weight. When the weight climbs, and it should, it is critical that you have some good equipment to help you.
You have to use wrist straps for most of your heavy back training.
Certainly you should do your warmups without straps and do other grip and forearm work to build your grip. But your grip will never be as strong as your back.
I have a pair of weight lifting shoes that I just wear for lifting. They have the stiff soles that provide a strong foundation. They are made of durable material that fully supports your foot. They have a Velcro strap that further tightens up the shoe.
After feeling how much more stable and powerful I feel in wearing them, I would not go back to wearing regular shoes while weight training.
I wear a lifting belt on my work set or sets of deadlifts, rack pulls and shrugs. Usually I wear one on my last warm-up set too as it is usually almost as heavy as my work set. The belt helps to protect your back and gives you some extra core stability.
4 inch thick belt that is narrower in the front is the
handiest size to get.
The thicker power lifting belts are probably fine. But then you need a thinner belt to deadlift. Unless you are a competitive power lifter, it is an expense you don't need.
This is the belt that's similar to the belt I have been using for years. Belts are great because they do last a long time, maybe years. Although you may need to change if you get smaller in the waist (hopefully for me) or as you get bigger and stronger.
I have a big leather duffel bag with multiple pockets for holding all my workout gear. I want to just grab this bag and go, not repack it every time I go to the gym.
Here is how I load it:
like to put the stuff back consistently so I know exactly where
everything is and I don't have to rummage through it to find something.
This bag is really handy and looks good.
You will need a good back hair trimmer to deal with your excessive back hair. Unless you always want to be bothering someone else to "trim" your back hair.
A big, muscular masculine male back does not look very good if covered with hair.
So get some sun on your back and trim the hair.
My back and traps are really responding to all this work.
But you can see I don't go overboard on the number of sets or get too high on the reps. Excessive sets take a lot out of me. Too many reps and my form gets sloppy and the potential for injury skyrockets.
Older men need to watch out for getting injured. It takes much longer to heal. Sometimes you just will not heal.
The volume will tax your recovery and you will likely get sick. So workout hard, but carefully.
And focus quite a bit of effort on your back.
When you have a big, muscular masculine male back you will have that muscle guy, or power guy look. Your posture will improve. You back will feel great. You will look and feel better.
Plus people will not mess with you.
So start developing your impressive masculine male back.
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