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Building a powerful and strong back is always the goal in the sport of bodybuilding, especially competition. Let's tackle the subject of thickening up the back muscles for a thick powerful look. We'll use an
example as a guide to answer this topic. Let's say you have a back that is nice and wide, but you're in serious need of some thickness. You've been doing bent-over rows like there's no tomorrow, but the back
thickness still isn't coming. Can I help you? Sure!
A set of big sweeping lats is great, but if you don't have the thickness to go with it, your back will always lack that look of power and depth. All many bodybuilders have to do is do a lot of rowing, whether that's bent-over rows or something like T-bar rows. However, as you've noticed, this isn't always the case.
Look at the backs of Olympic lifters and power-lifters. They're incredibly thick from the top of their traps all the way down to the bottom of their spinal erectors. Every single muscle is thick, and as a result, they sport big, three-dimensional backs. These athletes spend a lot of time doing either the Olympic lifts or (especially in the case of the powerlifter) deadlifts. What we're going to suggest is a spin-off of the deadlift known as the rack pull.
Full deadlifts hit the whole posterior muscle chain, including hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and upper back. However, the goal in this case is to specifically target the muscles of the upper and lower back. With rack pulls, you can use more weight than you could with the traditional deadlift since it's basically a three-quarter deadlift where the hardest part of the movement has been eliminated. To do rack pulls, get in the power rack and set the pins at mid-shin level. This is where the movement starts. Before you pull, make sure your shoulders are pulled back, your lats are tight, and your back is straight. Keeping the bar right up against your legs, pull and stand up, never letting your upper back relax. Return to the pins, pause for a second to reset, and pull again. This exercise should be done first in your workout when you're fresh. Perform five sets of five reps, or six sets of four reps on a back day, and your upper-back thickness will take off in no time.