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How Do I Train to Get A Thick Back?

www.ironmanmagazine.comQ: I understand about back width, but I don’t understand about back thickness and how I go about developing it. Can you explain?

A: Back musculature is mostly flat, without prominent bellies, so thickening it doesn’t show as dramatically as it does in a more meaty muscle such as the calves, which have very prominent bellies. Back thickness isn’t easy to appreciate when you view it face-on, with the physique standing or sitting normally. While many muscles can be flexed to make them pop out more, the back muscles, other than the lats and perhaps the traps, can’t be made to jump out dramatically.

To increase your back thickness, train your whole physique by focusing on a small number of the best compound exercises that are suited to you, use correct exercise technique, keep your reps no lower than six, train hard but without overdoing volume and frequency, fully satisfy all the components of recuperation, gradually increase the weights you use, and over time you’ll get a lot stronger. Then you’ll see bigger muscles. How that growth manifests itself depends on the particular muscle and the degree of growth produced.

The pros can apply a similar overall formula, but how it’s applied in practice is different for them because they have a much greater size potential than typical bodybuilders have; a much greater strength potential; a much greater recuperation ability; a greater tolerance for exercise; perhaps more resistant and tougher muscles, tendons and joints; and perhaps a greater tolerance for exercise-induced discomfort. That explains why, if you copy precisely what they do, it’s not going to work well for you. And that’s why you have to train in a way that’s appropriate for you.

—Stuart McRobert


Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new 638-page opus on bodybuilding Build Muscle, Lose Fat, Look Great, available from Home Gym Warehouse (800) 447-0008 or

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