Hardcore Back Workout Routine For Mass – Top 6 Exercises

Written by Tihomir Stefanov, M.S.(C), PT

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Your back is one of the biggest muscle groups in the entire body and for that reason, you NEED a hardcore back workout to develop it properly.

Just think about this – If the back makes up a big percentage of your upper body, you must develop it in the right way to change your visual appearance.

A well-developed back will give you the V-Shaped look that we all strive for.

Combine this with your side deltoids popping and you will look twice as wide!

In this article, we are going to give you a hardcore back routine for mass that will make for a killer workout!

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This back workout routine is made up of our Top 6 picks for back exercises, which will ensure you will develop width, thickness and detail!

But before we get into this, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

How do you work your whole back?

anatomy of hardcore back workout

Much like any other big muscle group, there is a wide variety of possible movements for the back.

If we follow simple logic, we’d know that each muscle group and certain parts of it, are capable of a number of functions (movements), under different angles.

Each different angle emphasizes a bit more on some muscles and a bit less on others.

This is why, you must make sure to include a diversity of exercises, including but not limited to:

  1. A vertical pulling movement
  2. A rowing movement
  3. One straight arm movement like the pullover
  4. A hip-hinge movement for the spinal erectors

In simple terms, the best way to work your whole back, is to include more and different exercises in your back workout routine!

How many reps should I do for a back workout?

Ít appears that many trainees get confused when it comes to figuring out the number of sets and repetitions.

When the task at hand is to build as much lean muscle mass as possible, there are two things to consider:

  1. Working in the 6-12 rep range with relatively heavy weights, is the best way to realize bodybuilder-like muscle growth
  2. Doing 10-20 challenging working sets, per muscle group, per week, is your best bet when it comes to volume

In short, if you are looking to maximize muscle growth, work above 6 reps for the most part, and go in the powerlifting/strength range (~5 reps) every now and then.

How do I strengthen my back before working out?

One of the key components to every workout, is your approach BEFORE you start lifting weights.

Since lifting heavy right off the bat will more than likely be suboptimal, you should consider doing some lighter movements for activation as you move into heavier weights.

This can simply mean:

  1. Gradually increasing the weights on your first exercises
  2. Focusing more on peak muscle flexion
  3. Flexing the given muscle group before you move into the workout

Now without further ado, let’s move into this killer back workout!

Hardcore Back Workout Routine

As we mentioned, this hardcore back workout routine for mass is made up of our 6 most favorite back movements, which will engage every single part of your back.

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Exercise #1 – Wide grip pull-ups

wide grip pull up for hardcore back workout

Sets: 3

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Reps: Near failure

Rest times: 90 seconds

This first is a classic back movement, which quite frankly, can’t be replaced by anything else!

You want a wide back that has all the details? Grab that pull-up bar wide!

This movement will help you activate the back prior to the next, heavy movement and you can also add weight, once bodyweight pull-ups become easy.


  1. Hang on the bar with a wide grip that is comfortable
  2. Keep your feet together and straight (this will allow you to engage the core as well)
  3. Look up and engage your scapula
  4. Pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar
  5. Go back down slowly
  6. Repeat

Exercise #2 – T-Bar Row

t bar row for back workout

Sets: 4

Reps: 10

Rest times: 90-120 seconds between sets

Next up we have the T-bar row, which can be done with either just your hands, or a V-shaped cable attachment from the cable row machine.

Due to the movement pattern of the exercise, a load of tension is placed on the lower part of the lats, but also the traps and outer portion of the back.

This is a great exercise if one of your main goals is to stack on quality muscle mass.


  1. Place one side of the bar on the t-bar attachment or in a corner
  2. Load plates on the other side
  3. Take the V-shaped attachment
  4. Stand over the bar so that it is between your legs
  5. Place feet at shoulder width
  6. Bend knees slightly and bend over
  7. Grab the bar with the V-shaped attachment
  8. Keep back straight and lift the weight off the ground
  9. Stand at a 45-degree angle and let the weight hang
  10. Row the bar up, until the plates touch your chest
  11. Squeeze the back up top, then go back down slowly

Exercise #3 – Narrow grip pulldown

narrow grip vertical pulldown

Sets: 3

Reps: 10

Rest times: 90 seconds between sets

Next up we have the narrow grip pulldown, for which you can use the same v-shaped attachment.

If you are looking for an exercise that will combine the development of width and thickness, both at the same time, this is your movement!


  1. Place the v-shaped attachment on the vertical pulldown machine
  2. Grab the bar and sit down comfortably
  3. Lean back slightly and look up
  4. Pull down to your mid/lower chest
  5. Contract the back powerfully
  6. Go back down slowly, keeping the tension on the back
  7. Repeat

Exercise #4 – Cable straight arm pulldown

cable straight arm pulldown

Sets: 2

Reps: 12

Rest times: 60 seconds between sets

If you’re looking for an exercise that will activate muscles you never even knew existed, this is it!

The straight arm cable pulldown will help you bring out even the smallest of details in your back musculature.


  1. Attach a straight bar on the upper pulley
  2. Stand in front of it and hold it at shoulder width
  3. Take a step back, bend knees slightly and bend over a bit
  4. Pull the bar down to your lower abdomen, while keeping arms straight
  5. Contract the back, then go back up slowly
  6. Repeat

Exercise #5 – Dumbbell pullover

dumbbell pullover for hardcore back workout

Sets: 2

Reps: 15

Rest times: 90 seconds between sets

At number 5, we have a classical dumbbell movement, taken straight from the times of Arnold and Frank Zane.

This movement will stretch your lats, obliques and even the abdomen if your hip placement is right.

Furthermore, the chest, triceps and shoulders will also come into play!

Full upper body movement? Sign me up.


  1. Take a dumbbell and lie on the side of a bench on just your upper back
  2. Hold the dumbbell above your chest with both arms
  3. Bend elbows slightly
  4. Let the dumbbell go down and behind your head, slowly
  5. Pause to feel the stretch in the lats
  6. Pull the dumbbell back up and repeat

Exercise #6 – Back hyperextension

Sets: 5

Reps: 15

Rest times: 90 seconds between sets

Last but not least, we have the hyperextension, which will develop one of the often ignored parts of your back – The spinal erectors.

Lower back thickness will make your back look complete and furthermore, will ensure you are well-balanced.

On top of that, having a pump in your spinal erectors will make you re-think the way you usually go about your body posture!


  1. Place yourself comfortably on the hyperextension bench
  2. Make sure that the pad’s edge is at hip level
  3. Place your arms behind your head
  4. Go down slowly, keeping the spine straight
  5. Extend back up, contracting the back and your glutes
  6. Pause up top slightly and repeat


There is a variety of muscle groups that make up your back, meaning that it is capable of many, many functions.

This is why, a hardcore back workout routine would be nothing without exercise diversity to target all those muscles.

Working in the 6-10 rep range on those movements is your go-to option for maximum muscle gains, but you can occasionally go below 6 and above 10 repetitions to stimulate the muscles in a different way.

Overall, our hardcore back workout is as good as it gets if you are looking for a thick, wide back.

Nevertheless, working out is just one part of the picture, so do check out our 10 bodybuilding breakfast ideas for muscle growth.

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