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Need help with my Back and upper chest...



VIP Member
Oct 30, 2010
Hey guys, this is my first post on this forum. i was invited over by bigrobbie, and let me firstly say its by far the best and easiest forum. iv learnt some much already!

anyway....i want to get my back bigger and wider to get that V shape going,traps bigger/bulkier and also want to work on my upper chest to get it looking more defined and want some advice on what exercises i should be doing.

this is my current training exercises:

wide grip pullups 3x8-10 (second and third set with added wieght)
deadlifts 3x8-10
lat pulldown 3x8-10
T-bar 3x8-10 (change it up with machine rows every couple weeks)

Traps: (i do these with my shoulder routine)
dumbell shrugs 3x8-10
barbell shrugs 3x8-10 (olympic bar)

dumbell incline 3x8-10
dumbell flat 3x8-10 (change it up with flat bench every couple weeks)
decline 3x8-10 (hammer strength machine)
dumbell fly's 3x8-10 (change it up with incline fly's every couple weeks)
dumbell pullovers 3x8-10

i have just started a cycle so really wanna work on these areas.

Positive and negative feedback is all welcome! Really appreciate any help.

Lizard King

Lizard King

Staff Member
Sep 9, 2010
Welcome to the board.

How long have you been working out for? I like adding in rows for back as I can go as heavy as I want. Both look pretty decent though, are you going heavy enough?


VIP Member
Oct 30, 2010
at the end of this year it will 4 years of training, about 2 years of seriouse training 5 days a week, first 2 years was just on and off.

im 21 y.o
198lbs (when i first started training i was 166lbs) i have done 1 cycle at the start of this year and now on my 2nd cycle so i have made some good progress.

goal is to get to 215lbs with this cycle which i think is achievable anything more is a bonus.

ok so you dont think i should add any other exercises or even not be doing any of the above?

i think im going pretty heavy but i might have to step it up a notch now.


Bad Mother
Sep 27, 2010
I like to start chest with flys to get a good stretch. Also bringing the bar down to the top of your chest rather than the nipples or just below puts more focus/tension on the pecs. Be careful though, the shoulders take some strain this way so don't get crazy with the weight. Bodybuilding is the 'illusion' of strength, not just slingin' big weight. Full range of motion and razor sharp focus bromo. My 2c.....


VIP Strength Advisor
Sep 15, 2010
pull ups
lat pulls
seated rows
and t-bar lifts


Sep 19, 2010
DO NOT neglect heavy shoulder training!! Back is number 1 as far as the "V" shape you want, but you have to have broad shoulders...that's hella important bro!


VIP Member
Oct 30, 2010
hey robbie, yer man totally agree but my shoulders are quite wide so im good there just wanna widen the lats thats probably my weak spot!

i love the look of a big back, bulky traps and defined upper chest, looks unreal so really wana work on those areas just need some advice on what exercises i should be doing to achieve my goals.
Last edited:


Oct 28, 2010
I might consider making some of your sets a bit heavier in the 5-8 rep range to work fast twitch fiber directly. I might start off with heavy deads since they are the most demanding and then some heavy T-bar, than go to some higher rep pull ups/downs to finish them off. So:

Deads 5x5
t-bar 3x5-8
Pulldowns 3x10-15

Super Set:
Bent lateral raises 3x6-8
DB Shrugs 3x6-8

Good luck,


Sep 15, 2010
i am a big fan of db inclines at various angles for upper chest. deads and rack pulls will help with overall back thickness also


Oct 19, 2010
JOE W-I-D-E-R - by Eric Broser

If you are not in the mood to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe perhaps its best that you stop reading this article now! If you are perfectly content with the fact that your girlfriend can still borrow one of your shirts, than just put this mag down now and slowly back away. However, if you’ve always dreamed of seeing XXL in the label of all your shirts or can’t stand the fact that you never get stuck in a doorway, than read on my friend, cause just ahead lies the cure to your “narrow” condition!

The two bodyparts that are truly responsible for the “width” of the physique are the lats and delts. When these bodyparts are fully developed the physique takes on a look that screams BODYBUILDER... both in and out of clothing. You simply cannot hide WIDTH! A pair of broad shoulders and tapered lats lend an aesthetic appeal to the physique like no other bodyparts and have you stand out in a crowd no matter which direction you are facing. In addition, width up top creates the illusion of a smaller, tighter waist, and thicker, more sweeping quads. This “look” is what made bodybuilders such as Flex Wheeler, Lee Haney, Francis Benfatto, and Paul Dillett look all the more “dramatic” up on stage, and broadening your knowledge on the subject of width can do the same for you!

Ok, enough chit chat. Its time to start adding some Xs to the L on those teeshirts...

Be The Wing Man

One of the most impressive aspects of the bodybuilder’s physique is the infamous “V” taper. You know, the type of shape that makes it look possible to jump of a cliff, spread you lats, and do a little hang gliding. Think about the physiques of our past three Mr. Olympias...Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, and Ronnie Coleman. They all shared one thing in common...backs so wide that each lat had its own zip code! Problem is, truly wide lats are a rare commodity indeed and although I see dozens of trainees toiling away in the gym doing set after set on the lat pulldown machine, sometimes with the whole weight stack, so few are challenging the width of a single doorway. So where does the problem lie? Well, as I see it, there are several...

- WRONG EXERCISES: Although the lat pulldown is a wonderful back movement that certainly has its place, it can not replace the true back builders like chins, pullups, bent rows, seated pully rows, T-bar rows, dumbell rows, and deadlifts. Those that do not make these exercises the FOUNDATION of their back routine are not only narrow minded, but will always be narrow period!

-POOR FORM: This is perhaps the most prevalent problem in faulty back training and the number one reason, in my opinion, that spectacular back development is so rare. Usually one or all of the following mistakes are made by most when training back...1) Too much weight is used. While this may stroke the ego, it causes all kinds of jerking, swinging, and over stimulation of the biceps and brachialis. Unfortunately little to no lat recruitment occurs and thus, zero growth to the target muscle, 2) Failure to “set the body” correctly during the movement. In order to fully stimulate the muscles of the back responsible for width you must keep your chest out, shoulders back, and a slight arch in your lower back...and you must keep this position throughout the movement. When you begin to pull the weight, immediately begin tightening your lats. When you hit full contraction, bring the shoulder blades together and squeeze forcefully, 3) Not using a thumbless grip. By bringing your thumb to the same side of the bar as the rest of your fingers you will effectively take some of the forearm flexors and biceps out of each lat exercise. Reinforce your grip with lifting straps if you must.

-LACK OF ANGLES AND GRIP VARIATIONS: The back is a very complex group of muscles and for full development you must assault it from unique positions and angles as well as utilize the effects that different grips provide. Too many people stick to the same exercises, with the same hand spacing, same body positioning, and often use “overlapping” exercises that are simply hitting the muscles the exact same way over and over. I believe that each back workout should use variations on three angles of pull as well as three distinct grip options. You should include one exercise in which you pull vertically (pulldowns, pullups),one in which you pull horizontally (seated pully rows, seated machine rows, Hammer rows),and one in which you pull from the floor in a “bent” position (bent barbell rows, T-bar rows, dumbell rows, spider rows). In addition, perform one exercise with an underhand grip, one with an overhand grip, and one with a parallel grip. Each of these grips will affect the back musculature differently and cause a change in recruitment patterns. And remember, you can create further variation by changing the width of any of these grips from workout to workout or even set to set. The back is truly a “thinking man’s” bodypart!

-NOT USING PULLOVERS AND STIFF ARM PULLDOWNS: Before I regularly included these exercises in my back routine I had decent width in my lats. However, once I started hitting these movements hard and with decent weight, my lat width took off! Both of these exercises isolate the lats and teres muscles right where they tie into the armpit, and they do so without any bicep or forearm activation. This is very advantageous as they can be used to “pre-exhaust” the lats before rowing and pulldown exercises are performed, or, they can be used at the end of a back workout to get just a bit more out of those lats when the biceps are beginning to tire.

So now that you see that there’s more to back widening than 10 sets on the pulldown machine, and your girlfriend is behind you stealing yet another of your favorite sweatshirts (hey, if it didn’t fit her she wouldn’t take it),I’m guessing that you’re chomping at the bit to put what you have learned to good use. The following is a list of three distinct routines using the principles discussed above. Beginners and intermediates may wish to use each routine for 4-8 weeks before moving onto the next one, while more advanced lifters may enjoy switching back and forth among the three week to week.


1. Underhand grip pulldowns: 2-3 x 10-12 reps
2. Overhand grip barbell bent rows: 2-3 x 8-10 reps
3. V-grip seated pully rows: 2-3 x 6-8 reps
4. Cross bench dumbell pullovers: 2-3 x12-15 reps
5. Full deadlifts: 3 x 8, 6, 4 reps


1. Stiff arm pulldowns: 2-3 x 12-15 reps
2. Overhand grip pullups: 2-3 x 10-12 reps
3. Underhand grip seated pully rows: 2-3 x 8-10 reps
4. One arm dumbell rows: 2-3 x 6-8 reps
5. Rack deadlifts: 3 x 10, 8, 6 reps


1. Underhand grip T-bar rows: 2-3 x 6-8 reps
2. Wide overhand grip seated pully rows: 2-3 x 8-10 reps
3. V-grip pulldowns: 2-3 x 10-12 reps
4. Superset-Stiff arm pulldowns/Dumbell Pullovers: 1-2 x 8-10 reps each
5. Weighted hyperextensions: 3 x 12-15

*Sets do not include warmups
*Feel free to change exercise order
*Slightly less or more overall sets may be needed depending on experience
*Use varied rep ranges as listed in order to tax all muscle fiber types

Next month we will discuss the next muscle group in your physique widening adventure, the deltoids. Just remember one thing! Don’t send me the bill if you suddenly start needing to book TWO seats for yourself every time you fly on a plane...

This article was originally published in Iron Man magazine in 2007.


VIP Member
Oct 30, 2010
Hawk - yeah i think i will up my wieght with less reps. thanks for the advice dude.

bodyfx2 - thanks for the article it was a good read and also helped answer some of my questions.