Workout Routines

The Ultimate Back Building Workout for 2016

Add another zip code to your back with this hardcore routine.

josh bryant thumbnail by CSCS, MFS, PES
The Ultimate Back Building Workout for 2016
Duration 45 min
Exercises 5
Equipment Yes

If you are looking to build a physique that screams alpha male physical prowess and drips with masculine virility, a well-developed back is the gateway to a truly dominant, functional physique.

Bill “Kaz” Kazmaier, the strongest man of all-time, says, “A strong back equals a strong man.”  I won’t argue with Kaz and neither should you.

SEE ALSO: 7 Best Barbell Moves for Building a Big Back>>

The three best backs of all-time in bodybuilding are Ronnie Coleman, Lee Haney and Dorian Yates.  These three men have a combined 22 Sandows.  As soon as the IFBB judges saw their backs, it was game over and the battle ensued for second place for everyone else. If size and/or strength are important to you, back development is fundamental and the best method for that next level back development is powerbuilding. 

Reg Park

History Lesson

Back in the day, bodybuilding contests required competitors to perform feats of strength along with their posing routines. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s childhood idol, perennial Mr. Universe, Reg Park, was far more than just “show”, having enough “go” to become one of the first men in the world to bench press 500 pounds and, amongst peers, was considered to be one of the strongest men in the world.

The greatest bodybuilder of all-time, eight-time Mr. Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, competed on the powerlifting platform long before putting on posing trunks.  Along with bodybuilding accolades, like Park, Coleman went on to become one of the strongest men in the world. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger started off training like a powerlifter. By his own admission, Dorian Yates got his start in the jailhouse weight pile in England by performing basic heavy power movements. So what’s the point? A who’s who in bodybuilding, who are too numerous to list in one article, have built their base with heavy powerlifting-type training.

Science Speaks

Aside from in the trenches observations—let’s look to our scientific brethren that man the trenches of the lab.

A 2014 published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research entitled "Effects of different volume-equated resistance training loading strategies on muscular adaptations in well-trained men" concluded: “Both bodybuilding and powerlifting-type training promote similar increases in muscular size, but powerlifting-type training is superior for enhancing maximal strength.”

So—what’s the answer to maximize size?  You gotta train both powerlifting and bodybuilding; this beautiful hybrid is called powerbuilding and was first popularized in the iconic powerbuilding bible Metroflex Gym Powerbuilding Basics. 

The legendary Mike O’Hearn has taken the popularity of this training to a whole new level with his “Power Bodybuilding” style of training. Why? It works!

The Workout

Here’s what to do when the rubber hits the road—this is the ultimate powerbuilding back workout, with legendary Mike Rashid.

The Workout

Exercise 1

Barbell Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Deadlift thumbnail
3 sets
3 reps
60-90 sec rest
Go as heavy as possible maintaining proper form, most lifters will use >85% of their one-rep max.

Exercise 2

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row How to
Single-Arm Dumbbell Row thumbnail
3 sets
30 sec reps
60-90 sec rest
Do as many reps as possible in 30 seconds; if you reach failure continue with partials. Start with your first set being your heaviest and reduce the load by approximately 25 % each set. Start with a weight you can perform 10-12 reps.

Exercise 3

Straight-Arm Pulldown You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, Straight Bar Attachment, Lat Pulldown Bar How to
Straight-Arm Pulldown thumbnail
2 sets
60 sec reps
60-90 sec rest
You will perform these for one minute straight. Do not worry about the number of reps; perform each one controlled and emphasize feeling the lats work, error to the side of light weight.

Exercise 4

Seated Cable Row You'll need: Adjustable Cable Machine, V-Handle Attachment How to
Seated Cable Row thumbnail
3 sets
60 sec reps
60-90 sec rest
You will perform these for one minute straight. Do not worry about the number of reps; perform each one controlled and emphasize feeling the lats work, error to the side of light weight.

Exercise 5

Neutral-Grip Pullup You'll need: Pullup Bar How to
Neutral-Grip Pullup thumbnail
-- sets
3 reps
-- rest
Perform 3 pull-ups with a neutral grip, rest 15 seconds, and repeat this sequence as many times as possible in 4 minutes.
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