Back Workouts for Mass

Large compound movements that work multiple muscles in the back!

Back workouts for mass should be no surprise; they concentrate on large compound movements that work multiple muscles in the back (as well as many other muscle groups). You do not need a lot of sets for the back, and in fact many times I’ll only do 7 or 8 sets for my ba

Boxers do Pullups and Chin ups too!


That’s all it takes, but you need to go heavy and to failure, and of course proper nutrition matters.

My most common back workout follows:

  • Pullups/chin ups: 4-5 sets
  • Deadlifts: 3-4 sets

Pullups/chin ups:

I like to start with pull-ups or chin-ups

, and since I need a few minutes rest between sets in order to be able to crank out 5+ reps, I’ll sometimes superset them with bench presses so that I naturally have a longer break between sets.

Chin ups are done with a supinated or underhand grip. Your palms face you. Shoulder width or a slightly further grip is most common.

Pull ups are done with a pronated or overhand grip. Your palms point face away from you. Shoulder width or a slightly further grip is most common.

I often use a narrow neutral grip, where my palms face each other. The bars at most gyms allow you to do this.

Now chin up versus pullup versus neutral grip is something we could debate, but basically it doesn’t matter. Ideally you will vary as each hits the back a little differently, perhaps every few workouts, but what is far far more important is that you do them!

Now what if you can only do 2-3 reps instead of 5 plus? Well, you can superset them with lat pulldowns, which I do like doing occasionally anyways, or instead of a target number of sets you might have a target number of reps regardless of sets. You might start for example with 20 reps (which might take you 7-10 sets if you are doing 2-3 reps per set) and slowly increase over time to 30-40 reps.


Deadlifts work the entire body, especially the back, and they make me grow more than any other exercise! Yes, they work the back well, as long as much more of the body. They’ll leave you gasping for air. And sometimes starving for nutrition afterwards.

Deadlifts are the killer!

I do two warmup sets of deadlifts, one with just the bar and one with 135 pounds.

Good form is essential and a weight lifting belt is strongly suggested, mandatory if you are going heavy!

I like to work up to a weight that I can only do 5 reps with. Occasionally, I will go extra heavy “powerlifter style” and use a weight a can only do a three reps with (a “triple”) and a weight I can only do one rep with (a “single”). I sometimes need a nap afterwards; I’m serious!

I do not always do deadlifts every week as they can be brutal, and I can easily overtrain. Also, if I’m doing squats, that is a lot of work on the lower back.

When not doing deadlifts, I’ll sometime do cleans instead, or bent over rows. But deadlifts build the most mass!

The best back workouts for mass are simple; a few heavy compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups and leave you gasping for air. My preference? Pull downs/chin ups and deadlifts, together with eating muscle building foods!

6 thoughts on “Back Workouts for Mass”

  1. Chinups and Deadlifts, a killer combination for building your back. Do you ever do deadlifts and squats on the same day? I find that is too intense and leaves me wiped out and possibly overtrained.

    1. John, I rarely do deadlifts and squats on the same day.

      Both because after doing one I’m somewhat wiped and cannot do the other as well, and also because I feel it’s an incredible amount of stress on the lower back in one day. When I am doing both heavy, I sometimes even alternate weeks.

      Right now I’m doing deadlifts almost every week because I’m doing a lot of leg work out of the gym (a lot of cycling and some hiking) and going light on legs. Honestly, my legs are naturally massive and do not need as much work as most peoples.

  2. Ted, this workout looks too easy and simplistic to work big time.
    Well, I tried it and it kicked my butt bigtime the first time!

    I’ve been doing exactly what you specify most back days (just pullups/chinups with differing grips each time) and deadlifts. Some back days, maybe every 4th, I’ll do something totally different just for variety.

    Result? I spend less time working my back, I’m getting better results, and I fell fantastic! The deadlifts do need some recovery time though (i’ve been known to nap afterwards).

    My deadlifts have gone from barely 135 lbs to 315 for reps, and my pullups have increased too. You can see the increased musculature after a couple of months!

  3. Just pullups and deadlifts, so easy, but a buttkicking back work out.
    Every 3 or so back workouts I will change things around for variety, but these are my mainstays.

    Amazing how few sets you need when you are doing exercises like these!

    1. Changing your workout around is always a great idea so your body doesn’t become accustomed to what you are doing.
      This weeks back workout was totally different (lat pulldowns, bent over rows, and cleans) but next work out it’s back to deadlifts and chinups/pullups!

  4. I did this workout today – wow!
    Just did 8 sets – 4 chins and 4 of deadlifts. 8 sets seems like so little but this was a BIG workout!


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