Overview Back

Your back is a complicated muscle group that includes smaller muscles such as traps that tie into your shoulders. It’s crucial to train your back for width, thickness, and detail. Dieting will help reveal the strengths and weaknesses in your back.

In addition to targeting specific back muscles, it’s important to think about how you’re adding width and thickness. The exercises I include target both, and you can emphasize the moves—as well as additional sets, reps, and weights—that help you improve the appearance of your back as you lose body fat.

Here’s more about some of the most visible muscles of your back:


The lats are the large wing-shaped muscles in your back that create your V-taper. It’s important to train them for both thickness and width. When you take your grip wide, you’re working the outer parts of your lats, and when you take your grip narrow you’re working muscles closer to your spine. It’s important to include pulling moves to widen your lats, and rowing moves to thicken them.


These muscles attach to your upper scapula and to your upper spine, helping you stabilize and retract your scapula. Emphasizing these muscles with exercises such as machine rows helps increase definition in your back.


These small muscles stabilize your spine, and they also help create definition in your lower back. When you’re well-trained and dieted, they allow you to display the “Christmas tree” that all bodybuilders seek to develop.


This large butterfly-shaped muscle in the center of your back also rises and attaches to the top of your shoulder blades near your neck. Your trapezius is not only visible from the back when you’ve dieted down, but you can see defined ridges from the front when they’re ideally developed. I train traps with shoulders, but you’ll recruit your traps during many back exercises.

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