Building a bigger, stronger, and wider back is something many of us desire, but don’t know where to begin. Cable Rows and Lat-Pulldowns are two of the most common exercises people perform when it comes to back training. Unfortunately, this is where back training begins and ends for many individuals.
While these movements are great exercises for building a bigger, stronger back, let’s step out of the box for a second and discuss some not-as popular back exercises that are going to help you pack on some serious back mass.
Rowing movements are one of the most effective exercises for building size and strength in your back, which is why it’s time for you to revamp your back training and start incorporating these 3 mass building row movements into your back routine.
3 Mass Building Row Movements
The Pendlay row is often forgotten about when it comes to training your back, but it needs to become a staple exercise within your lifting repertoire. The Pendlay row is one of the most effective, mass building exercises you can perform for building a bigger back.
The main difference between the Pendlay row and the standard bent-over barbell row is that the weight starts from the ground with each rep. With your feet shoulder width apart and your body bent at the hips you should be staring at the barbell on the ground below you. Grab the bar at a width just wider than shoulder width, keeping your head down and neck neutral with your spine. Pull the weight up towards the bottom of your chest, keeping your arms tight and close to your body, and lead with your elbows so your upper and middle back is receiving the most tension through each rep. Lower the weight all the way back down until the plates touch the ground to complete the rep.
By being bent at the hip further down at almost a 90 degree angle and returning the weight to the ground with each rep you are able to use more weight and reduce the amount of stress being placed on your lower back.
Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows
When we typically picture dumbbells rows we normally think of the single-arm, isolation movement performed in a kneeling position on a bench. While single-arm dumbbell rows are one of the best isolation movements you can do when it comes to back training, I want to step outside of the box and discuss a not-as popular back movement that’s just as effective: Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows.
This movement is all about the pump, squeeze, and the feel of each muscle in your back getting torched with each rep. With this exercise I’d recommend using a weight 50% off the dumbbell weight you use with single-arm dumbbell rows. So, if you normally use a 90lbs dumbbell for your single-arm movement, use a set of 45 pound dumbbells for bent-over dumbbell rows.
With the dumbbells in each hand, bend at the hips so that your upper body is at a 45 degree angle. Keep your head up and spine neutral, so that your head is in line with your back. With the dumbbells hanging below and thumbs facing each other, pull the weight back and up, twisting your arms and wrists slightly so your hands are in a hammer position at the top of the movement. With this movement imagine there’s a tennis ball in the middle of your back and you are trying to squeeze your back around the tennis ball with each repetition.
This exercise is a great finishing exercise on your back day as you want to keep the weight light to moderate and focus on creating a hard, effective squeeze with each rep.
This movement takes some time to setup, but the extra time is worth it. The Seal row will require you to find a designated space somewhere in your gym where you can set a flat bench atop two squat boxes. The bench needs to be raised high enough to where your fingertips can just touch the floor when your arms are fully extended. You need to be able to fully extend the weights below you with each repetition.
The Seal row can be performed with either a barbell or dumbbells with the main focus being on the squeeze and contraction of the back with each rep.
With this movement your entire body will be pinned against the bench, so you won’t be able to “heave” the weight up like you can with other free weight rowing movements. This allows you to increase the tension on the targeted back muscles, shifting the tension away from your lower back and reducing the chances of injury.
With your stomach on the bench, your head neutral with your spine, and your feet dangling off the end of the bench slightly curled up (hence the name ‘Seal’ row), pull the weight up straight up towards your chest and lower back down all the way to the ground for one repetition.
Keep the weight light to moderate with this movement. No ego lifting here as this movement is all about form and squeezing your back with each rep.