How To Use Supersets To Build A Thick & Wide Back

Man Doing Pull Up Back Muscle
Build a massive back with this advanced training technique that's designed to deliver awesome muscle gains while saving you some time at the gym!

Nothing makes a bigger impression on a physique than a large and thick back. If you’re a bodybuilder, there’s a good chance that you’ll win or lose the show once you turn around for the rear compulsories.If you’re an athlete that participates in a team sport then seeing a big number on the back of a bigger jersey can mentally affect the opponents on the field. If you want a complete physique, then training back with maximum effort and focus is an absolute must.

It can make for a long day if you go straight sets every time you train back. If you work a full time job, have a family, commitments for school, or deal with any of the other things that are a part of everyday life, time may not be something you have a lot of. This is why it’s good for us to dig in the training tool bag and add supersets to our plan.

For those of you that don’t know, supersets are taking two exercises and performing each back-to-back without rest. You can get everything done in less time, it makes the workout more intense, and the end result should be serious gains from the rear. Furthermore, if you set up your two exercises so they are close together, there is less time for transition which can add even more intensity. This also prevents someone taking a station you wanted to use.

Enough talk. It’s time to train.

A Word on Focus

One mistake a lot of lifters make is going through the motions when it comes to back training. This is because you can’t see the muscles working as you can with the arms or chest. You need to make it a priority to think about your back day before the workout and take the time to feel every rep you perform so you can establish the mind-muscle connection which is vital for a program like this to work.

Build Effectively With Supersets, An Advanced Muscle-Building Technique

Superset 1: T-Bar Row and Two Arm Dumbbell Row

Both of these movements are great for developing thickness and all the knots that make your back look like mountains on a map. Although they both serve the same overall purpose, there are advantages to using each in a superset.

The T-Bar is one object that you’re pulling with both arms so you can use more weight which is always good for the muscles as well as the confidence. Using dumbbells help increase the emphasis of the stabilizers and allows you to put more focus on each side. Doing these with both arms simultaneously will save time and make the exercise a little tougher than using one arm while bracing yourself against a solid object.

Bring your dumbbells of choice with you to the T-Bar station and you’re ready to roll. Since we’re already using supersets to increase the intensity of the workout, don’t go too heavy for low risks and risk injury. Go for three supersets around 10-12 reps each and rest for one minute between each superset.

Superset 2: Wide Grip Pulldown and Reverse Grip Pulldown

We’ve taken care of the thickness but that won’t do much for you if you’re not wider as well. We need to blast the lats from top to bottom so it provides the illusion of your waist being smaller and that’s what superset number two will focus on. The advantage to this one is you don’t even need to leave the pulldown area and you’ll use only one handle on the pulley.

Start with the wide grip version of the lat pulldown to hit the top of the area. Take a grip that is wider than shoulder width but don’t go too wide as the decreased range of motion won’t help you as much as a longer ROM would. Make sure you squeeze the lats when you pull to get as solid of a contraction as possible.

After you finish with the wide version, switch the grip so your hands are now shoulder width apart and your palms face you like they would for a curl. Now you’re ready for the reverse grip pulldowns which will place the focus on the lower lats.

Supersets To Build Back Muscles

This may take some mental focus on your part because with this grip the instinct will be to use your biceps. You must take your mind deep into the fibers of the lats and focus as much as you can on pulling with the lats.

Also, focus on bringing your elbows back as the handle gets closer to your chest. You need this same mindset as you return the handle to the starting position so you’re not using the biceps or shoulders to control it.

Remember controlling the eccentric (negative) portion of the exercise will break down the muscle fibers more than the concentric (positive or lifting) part which is what we want. As with superset number one, three supersets of 10-12 reps each with a one minute break between supersets will do the trick.

Superset 3: Rack Pull Deadlift and Hyperextension

So we’ve been down with the thickness and went wide. Now we need to spend some time on the lower back. I’m not anti-deadlift so if you’re a powerlifter or swear by the regular deadlift then you can obviously use it but I like the rack pull version here because of the extra emphasis on the lower back. When you do these, make sure you’re focusing on the lower back and not lifting with the legs. If you’re having trouble doing this then lower the weight on the bar.

Hyperextensions are another great lower back movement that only requires your bodyweight unless you want to challenge yourself by holding a heavy plate or dumbbell. What I like to do instead is take my time during each rep and focus on controlling my bodyweight. Try lowering yourself for five seconds and taking five more to get back up.

This provides a different challenge for your lower back muscles after all the pounding of the weights. This extra focus can also help add hardness and detail to that “Christmas tree” look that judges are always looking for when evaluating bodybuilders onstage. Three supersets of 10-12 reps and 60 seconds rest between supersets will get the job done here as well.

Change It Up

As challenging as this workout is, eventually you’ll be looking for something else to do either because the results will become stagnant or you’ll just get bored. If that happens to you or if you just want to do something different every week, then switch the order of the supersets for a second version of the program. You can also change the exercise order of the supersets. As a matter of fact, you could do a four week split that looks like this.

Week 1 Exercise A Exercise B
Superset 1: T-Bar Row Two-Arm DB Row
Superset 2: Wide-Grip Pulldown Reverse-Grip Pulldown
Superset 3: Rack-Pull Deadlift Hyperextension
Week 2 Exercise A Exercise B
Superset 1: Rack-Pull Deadlift Hyperextension
Superset 2: Wide-Grip Pulldown Reverse-Grip Pulldown
Superset 3: T-Bar Row Two-Arm DB Row
Week 3 Exercise A Exercise B
Superset 1: Two-Arm DB Row T-Bar Row
Superset 2: Reverse-Grip Pulldown Wide-Grip Pulldown
Superset 3: Hyperextension Rack-Pull Deadlift
Week 4 Exercise A Exercise B
Superset 1: Hyperextension Rack-Pull Deadlift
Superset 2: Reverse-Grip Pulldown Wide-Grip Pulldown
Superset 3: Two-Arm DB Row T-Bar Row

After Week 4 you could go back to Week 1 and perform this protocol one more time. After eight weeks, you should be very happy with the results. If you try this program, share your feedback in the comments section below.