When all things are close in bodybuilding contests, the man with the best back usually takes home the trophy. The back is perhaps the most overlooked body part, as it doesn’t show up in most of the poses we secretly hit in the mirror on a daily (or hourly) basis. Additionally, back training is hard to plan. The back delivers two distinct visual impressions – thickness and width – and each require a fair number of sets to completely train these areas. Therefore many trainers have begun splitting their back muscles into two groups, each group trained once per week, either 2 or 3 days apart. Let’s check out a sample back split.
Back Width (cable day)
In the front and read lat spread poses, a narrow back (underdeveloped lat muscles) will definitely cost you points with judges. To ensure this doesn’t cost you any shows, try devoting an entire day at the gym to back width using cables and machines to emphasize the pull-down motion. This can include lat pulldowns, cable rows, pull-ups, and the wide variety of machines designed to isolate the outer lats and contribute to the width of the back. Stretching those “wings” out on this day is imperative as well to ensure oxygen and protein-rich blood are able to reach all corners of the lat muscles. Train slow and methodical, making the pump the goal.
Back thickness (weights day)
This is the day where you get down and dirty. Wear a belt, bring your chalk, and wear your work boots. Today you pick up the bar and move some serious weight. Today is the day you train for back thickness and overall central nervous system (CNS) stimulation for overall body growth. This is the day where you find such exercises as heavy deadlifts, dumbbell rows, and barbell rows. This day should be brief, heavy, and intense, as you have already completed the “bodybuilder” movements on your back width today. Today is back thickness day, and you should train hard and heavy in a near-powerlifter style.
Play with the exercises and arrangements to find an exercise split that fits your schedule and most addresses your weaknesses. On the rare occasion that your back is your best body part, you’d be wiser to keep the entire back on one day and use a split day to target an area like arms or legs. However, if your back needs a boost, give split back days a try to see if it helps you improve both width and thickness!