If you’re looking for the best wide back exercises then you’ve most certainly come to the right place!
Today, we will be looking at the top 3 exercises for a wide back, as well as some ELITE insider tips and tricks to help you progress even further.
Whether you’re a gym newbie, or an advanced lifting veteran, these exercises as well as tips and tricks will add rocket fuel to your back growth and lat gains!
So without further ado, let’s jump right in!
Wide Back Exercises vs. Thick Back Exercises
Really quickly before we get into the actual exercises themselves, let’s take a look at the difference between training for width vs. thickness so you can INSTANTLY tell which exercise is better for each goal.
As simple as it may sound, 90% of the time, if you want to train for a big wide back, then on most back exercises, you’re going to want to use a WIDE GRIP.
The reason this is important is because you can use a wide grip on exercises typically meant for building back thickness, and get even MORE width on your back than just doing pullups or pulldowns.
We’ll discuss how to use this tip later in this article, but for now understand that IN GENERAL: close grip for thickness, wide grip for width.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s waste no more time and look at the BEST wide back exercises!
Top 3 Wide Back Exercises
The following wide back exercises are guaranteed to give you wings, even without the Red Bull.
Not only will you get a wide back, but you will also avoid the CRITICAL MISTAKE many newbies make, which is by only targeting the upper lats, leading to a more “Y” shaped back rather than the golden “V”.
Nope, you have this article, and with these 3 wide back exercises, you will get a crazy V-taper:
- Wide Grip Pull-Ups
- Rocking Lat-Pulldown
- Straight Arm Lat-Pulldown
Stay tuned, because next, you’re going to learn how to do each of these exercises with perfect form and avoid the mistakes that SO MANY beginners make, simply because they were never taught!
Remember however, whilst these are easily the top 3 best wide back exercises, you can turn ANY exercise into a wide back exercise simply by using a wider grip on your back workouts.
Without further ado, let’s break down these wide back exercises!
Wide Grip Pull-Ups
Make no mistake, when done properly wide grip pull-ups are the KING of wide back exercises.
Luckily, maintaining good form is simple enough too, as all I want you to focus on is bringing your chest to the bar.
Over time you will develop a rock-solid mind-muscle connection with your lats, allowing you to really squeeze them when doing wide grip pullups, but it starts with focusing on bringing your chest to the bar.
If you’re a beginner to the gym, many gyms have assisted pull-up machines, which is JUST FINE to use, but eventually, when you’re strong enough, you’ll want to switch to using your body weight.
If you’re strong enough to do at least 10-12 reps of wide-grip pullups using your own body weight, then it’s time to up the intensity and add some weight!
Ultimately, when you can start adding weight, either using a weight belt or holding a dumbbell between your legs, you’ll watch your lats EXPLODE with growth!
But whether you’re adding additional weight, using your body weight, or using the assisted pull-up machine, wide grip pullups are the KING of wide back exercises!
Many people are familiar with the regular lat pulldown as it’s a pretty intuitive wide back exercise that is also phenomenal for back/lat growth.
However, most people don’t know about the rocking lat pulldown as a wide back exercise that can SERIOUSLY give you a competitive advantage, here’s how to do it:
Set yourself up as if about to do a regular lat pulldown…
From there, pull the bar down to about chin/nose level. From that position, you’re going to pull down using your right or left arm ONLY whilst leaving the other side around nose/chin level. From there, bring the weight back up and repeat the process using the opposite side and alternate.
What the rocking pulldown allows us to do and what makes it one of the best wide back exercises, is it allows us to get a MUCH deeper and stronger contraction in the lats with the minor sacrifice of doing it in an alternating fashion.
When doing a regular lat pulldown, your chest gets in the way of allowing you to tap into that extra range of motion… Not with the rocking lat pulldown however.
When doing the rocking lat pulldown, you want to focus on bringing the weight down and even AROUND the back of your spine for a POWERFUL contraction of the lats!
This extra range of motion is HUGE and is what makes the rocking pull-down one of the greatest wide back exercises out there.
Straight Arm Lat-Pulldowns
Lastly, we have straight arm lat pulldowns which will allow us to build width in a way that the other wide back exercises don’t
Remember how we talked about how many gym newbies only focus on their upper lats leading to a more “Y” shape than a “V”?
Well, while the other wide back exercises in this list will also help to target the lower lats, the straight arm lat pulldown is here to target those lower lats with laser-like precision.
To start, set up a straight bar at a cable machine, take a few steps back, slightly hinge at the hips, and bend the knees slightly.
From here, keep your back straight, and with straight arms, bring the bar down to around your hips.
This may take a few sessions before you really get the hang of how to do these properly, but once you do, it feels like a straight-up cheat code for getting your lats to grow, which is why it’s one of the top 3 best wide back exercises.
One little key is to push your chest out and forward whilst keeping your arms straight…
This will help to place the tension on the lats whilst minimizing the involvement of the triceps which unfortunately many people don’t realize, and end up making the straight arm pulldown more of a tricep exercise than a LAT exercise.
Sets & Reps
Lastly, for sets and reps on these wide back exercises, it really depends on where you’re at in your fitness journey, but I’ll give a sample for you below.
Here’s a basic set/rep scheme that you can apply to each exercise:
- Beginner: 2×10-12
- Intermediate: 3×10-12
- Advanced: 4×8-12
Of course, there are many variations to the sets and reps, but if you’re just looking to get started, then the above set/rep scheme will set you on the right path.
Sometimes, you may need to dial down on certain rep ranges when it calls for significant jumps in strength like the wide grip pullup for example.
You may find that if you were using the assisted pull-up machine when you switch to using body weight, you can only do like 4 reps at a time.
This is normal and to be expected, and the solution is to continue to do 4 reps at a time, till you can do 5, then 6… 7… 8… etc.
As a general rule however, once you’re able to hit 12 reps on a given exercise, then it’s time to up the weight!
This ensures that you are progressively overloading on each of these wide back exercises, and will guarantee you a wide and POWERFUL V-taper.
Wide Back Exercises: In Summary
Overall these are some of the 3 BEST wide back exercises that you can use to get a serious edge over any and all competition!
Remember too, that most back exercises can become an exercise for back width simply by switching to a wider grip. The same applies to switching to a closer grip for back thickness!
In the end, I sincerely hope you enjoyed this article and found the information presented useful!
As always, make sure to check out the rest of Herculean Strength for even MORE great articles on how to achieve any and all of your fitness and bodybuilding goals!
And until next time!