I’ve received a ton of requests asking for more “Athletic Bodybuilding” posts.

Well, I got em for ya!

In this post, I wanna talk all about the BACK and how to get it strong and JACKED up!

So pay attention!  I got 5 ways to do so while keeping it athletic as possible!

The greatest way to build lean, strong muscle is to train like an athlete.  Many times, it is difficult to train like an athlete and build up a ton of muscle at the same time.  But, if you approach it the right way, you can build lots of “athletic muscle’ in a hurry!

Here are 5 tips on how to build up your back through Athletic Bodybuilding.

1)      Train HEAVY movements

You back is one of the strongest parts of your body, or it should be at least.  Using heavy weights is essential.  So reps of anywhere from 3-6 reps would be considered heavy for your back.  Since we are going for muscle gain, we don’t need to worry too much about maximal strength in the 1-2 rep range.  We want a little more volume.

So what are the best movements to train heavy?  Deadlifts are the king followed by these:

  • Bent Barbell Rows
  • 1 Arm Bent Rows with Dumbbells or Kettlebells
  • Heavy Weighted Pull Ups
  • Cheat Curls (YES, these still work your back if you do them right!
  • Atlas Stone Loading (Huge on Back strength development)
  • Sandbag Cleans and Rows

Those are the main exercises to use when training your back heavy.  They are all great athletic type movements as well.

2)      Bodyweight Pulls using multiple angles

Now when it comes to bodybuilding, a forgotten art is bodyweight training.  People think “un-weighted” bodyweight movements are no good to help add on muscle and mass.  Well, they are dead wrong!

You MUST do bodyweight training to ensure you keep up your strength level’s.  Bodyweight also adds in that extra volume that can really have an effect on building more size.

The best ways to train your back using bodyweight is to hit every angle imaginable!

Use these:

  • Pull ups – all types of grips
  • Recline rows (use a TRX or Squat Rack)
  • Rope Climbs

3)      Superset your back training

There’s NO better way to make your back training more athletic than super setting back movements with other body part movements.

My personal favorite is the “push-pull” superset.

Here’s one of my favorites…

Dips and Pull Ups…


Another one of my fav’s is pairing up benches and rows.  This is where you may start out with a bench press (push) then immediately go to a bent row variation (pull).

The great thing about using supersets, especially when trying to add extra muscle onto your frame, is that you get a ton done in a short amount of time.  You also will burn more calories by keeping your heart rate elevated which will you help get and stay lean.

Here are a few examples of the best supersets I’ve used in the past for the best results:

  • Bench press – bent barbell row
  • Weighted push ups – weighted recline rows
  • Military press – rope climbs
  • Barbell push press – weighted pull ups
  • Ring Dips – Ring Pull Ups

You can also use other movements such as:

  • Back Squat – Recline Rows
  • Kettlebell Front Squat – KB Bent Rows
  • Barbell Power Lunges – TRX reclined rows

4)      Use explosive movements

Now another lost art when bodybuilding is the use of explosive movements such as plyometric and Olympic type lifts.  Do not ever forget to include these into your workouts!

These are a must at keeping you athletic and getting you stronger.  All of which will help you add lean muscle mass.

Using explosive type movements will help assure you are using just about every single muscle fiber possible.  You can only activate certain muscle fibers by doing explosive “speed” type movements.  This is critical!

Most bodybuilders train too slow.  Fast twitch muscle fibers are only activated when doing speedy, explosive type movements.  In a nut shell, fast twitch muscle fibers are the fibers that grow the most.  This is why its important to train them!

So the best ways to do this is by reps of 5-8.  Each movement should be done as explosively as possible!

Here are a list of essential “Power” exercises to do for your back:

  • Hang Power Cleans
  • Med Ball Overhead Slams
  • Explosive Plyo Pull Ups (Super Advanced)
  • KB Cleans
  • Power Snatch
  • Hang Snatch
  • Olympic High Pulls
  • Band Power Rows
  • Sandbag Cleans

5)      Use lots of volume with DELOADING

The last tip is probably the best known around.  To add muscle, you must have a significant amount of extra volume in order to force your muscles to adapt to the stress being placed upon them through training.

Too little volume will result in little muscle growth.   Too much volume will overstress your muscles and leave you weaker and smaller than anticipated.

The right way to use volume is to make sure you get just enough in then lay off a bit.  Over doing it will kill your results.

To avoid this, you need to make sure you take planned “deload” periods within your training schedule.  I personally like to “deload’ every 3-4 weeks.  You can go longer but I recommend you go 3-4 weeks of high and heavy volume then back off for 7-10 days of low volume, low intensity work.

The rest is where the magic happens!  You give you muscle a chance to recover and when you come back, you are re-energized and ready to get back at it.

Deload aren’t only good for your physical self (muscles), but your mental self as well (mind and attitude).

The best way to approach a deload is to try and use only bodyweight exercises or low weighted exercises.  NEVER go to failure on any movements and make sure the workouts are short and fast.  20-30 mins tops is the recommended time needed for deload workouts.  Get in, get out, rest, and recover.

Simple as that!

So there you go!  5 ways to start building up your back while still staying athletic!

Apply these tips and you’ll see significant gains in strength, power, and lean muscle mass!

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