Max Back

Lee Haney on how to get a thick, wide back.
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QUESTION

To this day, I believe that you still have the best back ever. How can I get my back to be as wide and thick as yours?

ANSWER

Thanks for the compliment! It’s always nice to hear that people haven’t forgotten about ol’ Lee just yet. As for whether or not I have the greatest back, I’m sure two guys named Dorian and Ronnie might have something to say about that, but I’d like to think I’m right up there with them.

So, you want to build a back like mine? It might be easier said than done. It’s not because you don’t have the drive and work ethic to get there, but I’ve always had a big back, even when the rest of my body was skinny. I frequently tell the story of the time I was standing in front of the TV while my sister was trying to watch it. She shouted, “Move out of the way, Big Back!” From that moment on, the nickname Big Back stuck with me. Mind you, I hadn’t even begun training at the time. I was just lucky to have been born with the genetics for a big back.

I don’t know if you were born with the same advantage. It’s possible that you are also blessed in the back department, in which case you may find your own relatives calling you Big Back. There’s also a chance that no matter how hard you train, you’ll never develop a back like mine. If that’s the case, though, don’t despair. Each of us has an inborn set of strengths and weaknesses, and it’s our job as bodybuilders to maximize our potential to create the best physiques possible.

Now, to maximize your back . . .

Back training is really quite basic — you need to perform exercises that pull your arms down or back, or both. You can hit all of the back areas in as little as 13 sets, provided you concentrate on actually working your back and not just on moving heavy weights.

I like to start my back routine with a width builder, using either chins or front pulldowns. Each of these works the lats a little differently, but I prefer front pulldowns because I can adjust the resistance more easily than I can for chins. Use an overhand grip beyond shoulder width. Make sure to arch your back as you pull the bar down to your upper pecs.

After pulldowns, move on to an overall mass-building exercise: bent barbell rows. These hit every part of your back, from your traps down to your lumbar region. Be careful not to cheat when performing these. This is an exercise that’s very easy to do incorrectly, leaving you vulnerable to injury.

Finally, do seated cable rows for lowerand inner-lat thickness. Make sure to get a good stretch at the start and a good squeeze at the end of each rep. These burn like no other exercise!

Performing this workout regularly is exactly what the doctor ordered to maximize your potential. And if you follow this routine carefully, you may just hear someone call you Big Back, too!

LEE HANEY'S BIG BACK ROUTINE

WIDE-GRIP FRONT PULLDOWNS: 5 sets; 10-12 reps

BENT BARBELL ROWS: 4 sets, 6-8 reps

SEATED CABLE ROWS: 4 sets, 12-15 reps

- FLEX

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