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Most people go too heavy on their pulling exercises from the get go. They sacrifice form so they end up working their arms and lower back far more than their lats or upper back. The other problem many newer lifters have when training to build a bigger back is that they try to do too much and also tend to go way to heavy.

The back is the second largest muscle group on the body and can be worked through so many ranges of motion and different movement patterns, so to get overwhelmed is easy.

Many fall into the trap of trying to do too many different exercises to hit every little muscle, from every little angle as hard as possible with high reps. But instead of targeting the correct muscles they spread their focus.

A much better bet is to narrow your focus on specific muscles with specific routines.

Select focused exercises that zone in on your back muscles and stick with them. Remember form is everything and really focus on the mind-muscle connection.

Here are a few key exercises that are mostly ignored but highly effective:

Chin Ups

Nothing builds up the lats more effectively. These are best performed on rings or a straight. Doing so alleviates the wrist, elbow and shoulder stress that comes from doing them on a straight bar. If you don’t have access to those implements I recommend doing them on neutral grip handles.

If you lack the strength to do a lot of reps, don’t fret. Progressive overload is key here. Start low and make sure you perform each one perfectly.

Inverted/Bodyweight Rows

These are great for strengthening and thickening up the mid back. Overlooked many times, but these have been proven to be highly successful. Lie down flat on your back using the smith machine. Position the bar within arms length and do a normal chin up or pullup. Really try stretch the back at the top and then lower yourself down while keeping your body straight and your core tight. To progress you can continually move on to harder variations and heights and manipulate your body position. When that no longer challenges you a weighted vest or chains can come in handy. With that you’re set for life and would really never have to touch a weight.

Rope Climbs

This is an awesome functional exercise that packs slabs of muscle on the whole back, lats and biceps. In fact, those who can’t get their arms to grow will be pleasantly surprised at what happens when they add rope climbs to their routine. Make sure you use a nice thick rope and try avoid using your legs for support. As always, strive for progressive overload by being able to do more consecutive reps or getting up the rope in less time.