All my girls with a wide back – where ya at?!
If you are insecure about, just plain dislike or not satisfied with your back then I got some news to change your mind and start loving your strength. Wide backs are sexy and strong. Personally, for a long time I used to hate my back and think it was wide as a football players. That notion quickly changed after I started seeing results from lifting.
How does lifting make your back better? Well, the back has lots of muscles. Training muscles for strength results in toned muscles – as a secondary result you will burn fat and further expose those toned muscles. Thats where curves and shape come in. Think you don’t have muscles now? Think again. Off course you have muscles, they’re just tucked away underneath a layer of fat. Unless your body type is slim and you have less fat back there, you lucky you. In that case, lifting for strength will tone your muscle and expose that fabulous structure you own.
Some of your troubled areas might be the following:
- saggy skin or fat above and under your armpits / the area where your bra hooks
- fat deposit behind your neck, base of your neck
- fat deposit between your shoulder blades (upper back)
- fat and loose skin in your lower back, above the hips
Muscles that lay under your troubled areas are shown in the image below:
For now, lets focus on the larger muscles as shown on the left side of the image.
- Traps – trapezius
- Delts – deltoid
- Lats – latissimus dorsi
The muscles shown are smaller muscles underneath the larger muscles, and we can focus on them later.
Immediately you can see, traps cover the most of your upper and mid back starting from the neck while lats claim your entire mid and lower back. Delts, which are a part of your shoulder muscle group, are mainly right behind the shoulder joint and connect down into your arms (triceps). So can you guess what I’m gonna say next? Work out. That’s right. There are systematic movements which isolate those large muscle groups thereby changing the way they look and behave. By working out smartly you engage those muscles and give them a reason to grow : lift heavy.
Neck pain, neck fat or just not happy with how they look – anything to do with the neck concerns your trapezius muscles (traps for short). The traps fan out in the upper to mid back like so :
You can tone and strengthen your traps effectively by one move : THE SHRUG
Shrugging is when you…well I know you know how to do it. But shrugging for weight lifting requires a bit of consciousness. Lift your shoulders up and down while mental focusing on your muscles. Do not roll your shoulders (back and forth) during this move. The movement is simply up and down.
THE WORKOUT VARIATIONS
- Dumbell shrug
- Barbell shrug
- Smith machine shrug
- Behind the back shrug
- resistant band shrug
Variations of shrugs make it easy for you to work them no matter where you are or what equipment you have. If you’re working out at home then a dumbbell or resistant band is all you need. For gym goers, you have the option of doing all the variations to really make your traps tone and pop.
REPS AND WEIGHT
Reps should be between 10 to 12 with a weight that enables you to do 12 reps with the last 3 or 4 really intense. As I have been saying with all workouts, the weight you carry depends on your current strength. Remember, when doing 12 reps the last 3 or 4 should be tough. So be diligent and smart when you pick a weight. Don’t chicken out and pick a lighter weight. Flying through reps won’t result in anything at all.
One last thing about the traps : looking to expose the collar bone area and bring out the “beauty bone”? Working traps in the magic trick.
When it comes to lats you have to remember to points : width and thickness. If you have a narrow back then you can workout to widen it. If you have a wide back then you can workout to increase thickness thereby reducing the appearance of having a wide back.
UNDERSTAND WIDTH AND THICKNESS MOVEMENTS
Width of the back (from left side to right side) can be increased by pulling motions. Exercises that increase width of the back are lat pull down’s and all it’s variations :
- wide grip
- close grip
- cable pulldown
- machine pulldown
- resistant band pull down
- pull ups
When you stretch your arms out wide and pull down with your elbows you recruit muscles to spread your back. Think of opening your wings (as pro body builders like to call their lats). Widening the back is a result of your latissimus dorsi muscle growing in width and strength to pull down. This isn’t to say no other muscles are being used. When it comes to back, it is not possible to isolate muscles but you can recruit one more than the other. As you can see in the image, during pull downs your biceps are working in tandem with lat muscles. Important point : during lat pulldowns make sure you pull down with your elbows instead of curling your arms.
Thickness of the back means the physical thickness of the muscle – think 3D appearance. Exercise that increases thickness of muscle is ROWING and all it’s beautiful variations : dumbell row
- bent over barbell / dumbell row
- machine row
- T bar row
- seated cable row (close grip)
- resistant band row
As shown beautifully in the image on the right, rowing recruits all your back muscles and increases thickness. If you’ve felt the squeeze then you know what I’m talking about. Pointer to keep in mind is to keep your elbows to the side but flared out a bit.
For me, I have a wide back. So I took advantage of the added strength and lift for thickness. That doesn’t mean I ignore lat pulldowns and the variations. My back work out routine includes lat pulldowns and it’s variations but with more focus on rowing and rowing variations. During my lifting time of 45 mins, I quickly finish pull downs and spend more time on rowing.
Delts are part of the shoulder joint and rear delts play an important role in keeping muscles balanced and posture perfect. I like to call rear delts “the most easily ignored muscle” in the body because honestly it does get ignored – admit it. While the front and side delts are exercises by raising / pressing motions, the rear delts require a bit more mechanics and correction in form. Muscle imbalances in the back are most times due to weaker deltoids, where as strong deltoids are aesthetically pleasing and increase upper body strength.
Exercises that work the rear delts are the following
- rear delt raises and variations
- face pull
- standing reverse fly (cable)
- Incline bench bent-over dumbbell lateral raise
- Head-supported bent-over dumbbell lateral raise
- Seated bent-over lateral raise
Workout rear delts after rowing on back days and hit them twice a week. If you’ve only been using one or two movements then it’s time to add more different types of exercise. Working out in an empty gym is bliss if you want to superset delts or any other back muscles. But keep in mind that variation with equipment work well with muscles in the back and delts.
Remember, there is really no such thing as muscle isolation when working out back, more or less all muscle groups are working together to complete one range of movement. That is why correct form during exercise ensures you are injury free and reap full benefits of those movements. Focus on form guys!
Never forget to eat clean, hydrate properly, sleep enough and stay mentally strong. Physical fitness results are seen when you make lifestyle adjustments. Don’t forget we are working out to get stronger physically, mentally and spiritually.
So girls, our goal is to improve the aesthetic of our back side. Losing fat, getting lean and toning up are all results of the hard work, determination and focus you put into your workout routines. Getting rid of fat – no worries. We both know you are a savage when it comes to work ethics. So start working your back, you got this babe!