The 7 Best Exercises For a Wide Back

September 25, 2022 / Workout
The 7 Best Exercises For a Wide Back

Looking to gain better back width? If so, you need the right exercises to do the job. The best exercises for a wide back focus on exercises that will work each of your back muscles from different angles so you can get the V shape you want.

When you talk about a wide back, the latissimus dorsi is probably the first muscle that comes to mind. Yes, the latissimus dorsi is important, but when it comes to a wide back, many muscle groups have to work in balance and harmony to achieve the width and V-shape of your back. The best back exercises listed below that you can add to your training program will get you that amazing V-shape and wide back look you want.

Here are the muscle groups you need to develop to create a wide back

  • Latissimus Dorsi: The latissimus dorsi is one of the largest muscles in the back, covering the width of the middle and lower back.
  • Trapezius: Known as the traps, this triangular muscle runs from the back of your neck to the middle of your back.
  • Teres Major: Developing this muscle, which connects from the scapula to the upper arm bone (humerus), should not be neglected to create a wide back.
  • Teres Minor: One of the rotator cuff muscles, the teres minor, is the posterior muscle of the shoulder that attaches to the humeral head from the scapula. Although it is not big enough to create a wide back, it is especially important for shoulder health.
  • Infraspinatus: Included in the rotator cuff muscle group, the infraspinatus is a thick triangular muscle located at the back of your shoulder. If you want to have a wide back, you should not neglect these muscle groups located behind the shoulder.
  • Posterior Deltoid: Shoulder muscles consist of 3 parts. The posterior deltoid forms the back of your shoulder. The posterior deltoid is important because it is the roof of a wide ridge that you want to create. The posterior deltoid is often neglected, but one thing to remember is “The wider the shoulders, the more V-tapered your body looks”.
  • Rhomboids: The rhomboids (major and minor) is a skeletal muscle on the back that connects the scapula with the vertebrae of the spinal column. Located in the upper back, the rhomboids, together with the trapezius, levator scapula, and latissimus dorsi, form the superficial layer of the external back muscles.
  • Levator Scapulae: The levator scapula is the superficial back muscle situated at the back and side of the neck. Although the role it plays for a wide back is small, it is important for neck and overall back health since its main task is to lift the scapula.
  • Erector Spinae: Erector spinae is a set of muscles that straighten and rotate the back. Known as the spinal erectors, these muscles start at the base of the skull and run all the way down to the tailbone. You will need a strong spine to create a wide back. A strong spine will improve your posture and benefit you so you can perform any type of physical activity.
back muscle anatomy
Back muscle anatomy

The 7 Best Exercises For a Wide Back

While it’s great to perform a good mix of moves that will target the back from all angles, the following seven exercise should form the foundation of your program.

1- Pull-up or Weighted Pull-Ups

Pull-Up
Exercises For a Wide Back

Target Muscle: Latissimus Dorsi
Secondary Muscles:
Secondery Infraspinatus, Teres Minor, Rhomboids, Levator Scapulae, Teres Major

Pull-ups are an often forgotten about exercise because you aren’t using barbells or weight machines while doing them, but make no mistake, they are excellent for increasing your strength and back width.

When doing pull-ups, you’ll want to focus on wide grip pull-ups as much as possible as these will particularly target the outer lats, increasing the thickness as desired.

As it’ll only be so long before regular pull-ups just don’t pose much of a challenge, consider doing weighted pull-ups instead.  Attach some plate weight to your waist using a belt or alternatively, wear a weighted vest if you prefer.

Weighted Pull-up
Exercises For a Wide Back

This way, you can boost the resistance of this move just the same as you would any other strength training exercise.

As you perform these, make sure that you’re doing them in a slow and controlled movement pattern the entire way through to keep constant tension on the muscle tissues.  Also aim to keep your lower body as motionless as possible.

The minute your lower body starts moving as you do the exercise is the minute momentum begins to take over your lift.

2- Underhand Grip Barbell Row

Reverse Grip Barbell Row
Best Back Exercises

Target Muscle: Latissimus Dorsi
Secondary Muscles:
Erector Spinae, Rhomboids, Teres Minor, Trapezius, Teres Major, Infraspinatus, Posterior Deltoid

Moving along, now that you’ve done a vertical pulling movement, you want to balance this with a horizontal pulling exercise. This will ensure good muscular balance occurs and that you are hitting the muscles from all angles.

The underhand grip barbell row is excellent for increasing back width and will also help build up your biceps as well.  Using the underhand grip is especially important here as it’s what will have you hitting the muscles at the angle necessary for maximum width gains.

Just like with pull-ups, you’ll want to be sure that you perform this exercise in a very slow and controlled movement pattern. You should never jerk the weight upwards, using a swinging motion or you will instantly take muscular force out of the equation.

Instead, think of squeezing the elbows together, feeling the back muscles tighten and contract as you lift the weight up.

The back should also remain flat at all times, never assuming a hunched over position. If it does, you’ll put great strain on the back muscles and could eventually wind up experiencing an injury because of it.

3- Straight-Arm Pulldown

Rope Straight Arm Pulldown
Best Back Exercises

Target Muscle: Latissimus Dorsi
Secondary Muscles:
Levator Scapulae, Teres Major, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Posterior Deltoid

Pull-overs are a commonly performed exercise for hitting the lats and developing the back and now you can ensure they help increase the width of your back by performing them standing while using a wide grip.

It’s important when training back to always look at your grip pattern because this can have a profound difference in the way in which it shapes your physique.

In this case, wide grip is best.  Grab a hold of a lat pull down bar using a cable pulley with the widest grip you can.  Next, contract the abs hard and then using your lats pull the bar downward.

As you do this, try and keep the body as stationary as possible. If the abs are contracted maximally, you should find that you can do this without a problem.  If your abs are not contracted fully however, you’ll be likely to notice your body becoming quite unstable as you perform this move.

Once the bar is lowered, pause briefly and then control it on the way up. The great thing about using the cables is you’ll have maximum tension on the muscle the entire way through the exercise, so remain focused, squeezing and contracting the muscle throughout the entire range of motion.

4- Wide Grip Seated Cable Row

Seated Cable Row
Best Back Exercises

Target Muscle: Latissimus Dorsi
Secondary Muscles:
Erector Spinae, Teres Minor, Infraspinatus, Trapezius, Teres Major, Rhomboids, Levator Scapulae

One of the effective moves that you’ll want to consider adding to your workout program is the wide grip seated row. This is a great alternative to the underhand grip barbell row noted above and is the right option for those who may be suffering from any sort of back issues.

Because you are sitting upright, you won’t be placing quite as much stress on the back, so will not have the same tension forces acting on your vertebrae.

When doing this move, you want to really think of pulling the weight back with just your back and not your arms, as many people have a tendency to call their biceps into play greatly when doing the exercise.

This move is typically best done using a cable machine, which again is great for keeping constant tension on the muscle tissues.

5- T-Bar Row

t bar rows
Best Back Exercises

Target Muscle: Latissimus Dorsi
Secondary Muscles:
Posteror Deltoid, Erector Spinae, Teres Minor, Infraspinatus, Trapezius, Teres Major, Rhomboids

Another beneficial exercise that strengthens your back muscles, the T-bar row targets the entire back chain. The T-bar row, which is very popular in gyms, will help you get the broad back muscle you want and strengthen your back.

Lever T bar Row
Best Back Exercises

You set different stress priorities depending on the type of exercise. If you choose an underhand grip, you’ll put more pressure on your biceps. On the other hand, an overhand grip is ideal if the latissimus dorsi and upper back need to be in the foreground.

6- Full Range of Motion Pulldown

Full Range Of Motion Lat Pulldown
Best Back Exercises

Target Muscle: Latissimus Dorsi
Secondary Muscles:
 Posterior Deltoid, Teres Minor, Infraspinatus, Trapezius, Teres Major, Rhomboids, Levator Scapulae

Another way to work the back muscles from different angles is the “Full Range of Motion Pulldown” exercise.

First of all, not only does it work pretty much all of your back musculature like your latissimus dorsi, traps, and rhomboids, but they also greatly enhance the role of the important scapular stabilizers, such as the posterior deltoid, teres muscles, and infraspinatus. It is recommended to perform this exercise in multi-repetition sets with light weights.

7- Deadlifts

barbell deadlift
Best Back Exercises

Target Muscle: Gluteus Maximus
Secondary Muscles:
Erector Spinae, Trapezius, Levator Scapulae, Rhomboids

One of the effective move to add to your workout is the deadlift. Now, you might be wondering – ‘but this is a lower body movement?’

And you are correct, it does work the lower body very well. But, in addition to that, it can also help you see excellent strength gains in your upper body also, namely, in your back.

The deadlift exercise is such a compound movement that you’ll almost hit virtually every muscle in your body, reaping great strength gains.

Deadlifts are such a powerhouse movement, do them first in any workout that you do so that you can perform with maximum effort.

From there, you can add other more targeted back exercises, furthering bringing on that state of fatigue.

Conclusion

If you want to increase the width of your back, these are the top moves to get into your workout program. You certainly don’t want to add all of them to your workout session at once, but rather, add 2-3 per workout, varying the rep range as you go.

Train some moves using a lower rep range, lifting maximally, and others using a slightly higher rep range, lightening the weight.

This will help ensure a continually changing stimulus being placed on the muscles, leading to ongoing strength and size gains. If you train smart, you can definitely reshape your body, getting the physique you desire.