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June 13, 2022 8 min read

A giant barn door back is usually an indicator of a dedicated lifter. Whether you’re bodybuilding or just trying to get stronger, having strong back muscles helps you to twist your torso, pull your arms in and down from overhead, and, most importantly, stabilize your spine.

When you train these essential muscles, you’ll be more efficient at pulling and twisting motions as well. 

A bigger and stronger back can help you deadlift and bench press more weight more efficiently. Building one takes time, a proper workout program, and some serious effort.

If you want to build yourself a barn door back, you need to base your training on proper workouts that focus on building your muscles bigger and stronger. 

To get the most out of your back workouts you need to use a diverse routine that targets all the different parts of your back.

The Function of Your Back Muscles  

Your back consists of three distinct muscle groups: the superficial layer, the intermediate layer, and the deep layer.

These layers of back muscles help to mobilize and stabilize your trunk during your day-to-day activities. They also attach your shoulders and pelvis to your lower body. 

The function of your back muscles varies depending on the specific muscle and the direction of pull of each muscle. Many of the muscles work together; so while one muscle may provide movement to a joint another nearby muscle can be providing stability.

To save time (and a lot of boring technical talk) we have put together a list of functions for the main muscles that build a huge back: 

  • Trapezius: Your traps serve to elevate your shoulders. The middle and lower trapezius function to retract your shoulders, pulling them backward.
  • Rhomboids: The rhomboids serve to retract and stabilize your shoulder blades.
  • Latissimus dorsi: Your latissimus dorsi functions to extend and medially rotate your upper arm bone. They also help to stabilize your low back when your arm is in a fixed weight-bearing position.
  • Erector spinae: The erector spinae muscles extends your spine, bending it backward. When focusing on one side only they serve to laterally flex your trunk.
  • Multifidus: Each level of the multifidus muscle serves to stabilize the spinal segment that it is attached to.
  • Quadratus lumborum: Your quadratus lumborum laterally flexes your spine when contracting on one side. If both quadratus lumborum muscles contract,  then the extension of your spine occurs.

To help make sure you guys are getting the most out of your back training, we have put together five back programs with some of the best exercises that will help you build muscle and create that barn door look.

Don’t forget to warm up to prevent injuries while performing back exercises.

Superset Back Workout 

This is a six-move workout routine divided into three supersets.

Complete a set of move 1A, don’t take a rest break, then do a set of 1B, then rest for 60 seconds.

Repeat this pattern until all the sets are completed, then use the same method for the other two supersets. This is a great workout to pump your back up and promote muscle growth. To aid in that sweet back pump, make sure to check out N. O. 7.

1A. Neutral Grip Pull-Ups

How to perform a Neutral Grip Pull Up:

  • Hang from a neutral grips bar with a shoulder-width grip and keep your palms in.
  • Brace your abs and glutes, engage your lats, then pull your chin up and over the bar.
  • Pause at the top, then lower yourself back to the start under control.
  • If unable to do standard pull-ups, use a resistance band to assist the lift. 

Sets: 5

Reps: 8

1B. Prone Dumbbell Row

How to do the DB Prone Row:

  • Lie chest down on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing.
  • Keeping your chest against the bench, row the weights up, leading with your elbows.
  • Make sure to squeeze through your upper back.
  • Pause briefly at the top, then lower the weights.

Sets: 5

Reps: 10

Rest: 60 seconds

2A. Prone Reverse Flys


How to Do the Prone Reverse Fly:

  • Lie chest-down on the bench holding light dumbbells.
  • With a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights to shoulder height, then lower them back to the start.

Sets: 5

Reps: 12

2B. Seated Cable Rows

How To Properly Do The Seated Cable Row:

  • Sit at the machine holding the handle with a palms-facing grip.
  • Keeping your chest up and your core braced, pull the handle in towards your belly button, leading with your elbows.
  • Pause briefly then return to the start position.

Sets: 5

Reps: 12

Rest: 60 seconds

3C. Barbell Wide Grip Row


How to Do the Wide Grip Barbell Bent Over Row:

  • Hold the bar with a wider than shoulder-width overhand grip.
  • Hinge forwards from the hips, then row the bar towards you, leading with your elbows.
  • Pause at the top for a one-count, then lower the bar.

Sets: 4

Reps: 8

3C. Trap Bar Deadlift

How to Do the Trap Bar Deadlift:

  • Load a trap bar, also known as a hex bar, with your preferred weight.
  • Stand in the center and grasp both handles while keeping your head and chest up.
  • Lower your hips to a comfortable position, then drive through your heels and extend your hips and knees on the way back up.
  • Avoid rounding your back.

Sets: 4

Reps: 10

Rest: 60 seconds

Tri-Set Back Workout

This is a killer workout that is designed to grow your back to build that barn door look. The workout consists of two tri-sets to maximize the time your muscles spend under tension.

1A. Bent Over Cable Pulldowns

How to Do the Bent Over Pulldown with Rope:

  • Place the cable arm at the top and select the rope attachment.
  • Hold the rope with arms straight so they are at a 45 degree angle to your body and stand back with your feet just outside shoulder-width apart.
  • Engaging your lats, pull the weight down in a smooth arc until your hands are between your legs.
  • Return slowly to the starting position.

Sets: 5

Reps: 12

1B. Inverted Rows 

How to Do the Inverted Row:

  • Lie under the bar which should be set just above where you can reach from the ground.
  • Grasp the bar with an overhand grip and contract your abs, trying to keep your body straight from shoulders to feet.
  • Pull yourself up to the bar until your chest touches it.
  • Pause for a second, then slowly lower back to the starting position.

Sets: 5

Reps: 12

1C. Barbell Deadlifts

How to Do the Barbell Deadlift: 

  • Stand in the center and grasp the bar about shoulder-width apart while keeping your head and chest up.
  • Lower your hips to a comfortable position, then drive through your heels and extend your hips and knees on the way back up.
  • Avoid rounding your back.

Sets: 5

Reps: 8

Rest: 75 Seconds

2A. Resistance Band Assisted Pull-ups

How to Do Resistance Band Assisted Pull-ups:

  • Attach a light, long-looped resistance band to your pull-up bar and put one foot or knee in it to help you as you perform a pull-up.
  • Hold the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart and palms facing forwards.
  • With your core braced and keeping your shoulders back, pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.
  • Lower under control.

Sets: 4

Reps: 8

2B. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row


How to Do the Single Arm Dumbbell Row:

  • Place your feet wide apart and one hand on an incline bench in front of you so you have a stable base.
  • Hold one dumbbell and, keeping your back flat, row the weight up to your armpit.
  • Lower back down under control.

Sets: 4

Reps: 10

2C. Lat Pulldowns

How to Do the Lat Pulldown:

  • Grab the bar just outside of shoulder-width.
  • While keeping your grip on the bar and your arms straight, sit down, allowing your body weight to pull the bar down with you.
  • Nudge your thighs under the thigh pads and plant your feet flat on the floor.
  • Pull the bar toward your chest.
  • Once the bar is underneath your chin, reverse the movement and return to the starting position.

Sets: 4

Reps: 12

Rest: 75 seconds

Back AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible)

This workout moves through two circuits, each of which you’ll do for a set period of time. The rest is minimal as you work through the four exercises in each circuit, aiming to cram in as many rounds as possible before the time runs out. 

20 Minute Circuit #1:

20 Minute Circuit #2:

  • 12 Single Arm DB rows
  • 12 DB Pullovers
  • 12 Hex Bar Deadlifts

Dumbbell Back Workout

Sometimes you won’t have access to a gym full of equipment, but that shouldn’t stop you from being able to get a great back workout in. So just grab a couple of sets of dumbbells and give this workout a try. 

1A. Bent-Over Close Grip Dumbbell Row


How to Do Bent-Over Close Grip Dumbbell Rows:

  • Hold the dumbbells with a shoulder-width grip, your palms should be facing towards your body.
  • Hinge forwards from the hips, then row the bar towards you, leading with your elbows.
  • Pause at the top for a one second-count, then lower the bar.

Sets: 5

Reps: 10

Rest: 30 seconds

2A. Dumbbell Pullovers

How to Do Dumbbell Pullovers:

  • While lying on a flat bench with your feet on the floor, hold a dumbbell at one end with both hands and rest it on your chest.
  • Make sure your head is as close to the end of the bench as possible.
  • Press the dumbbell over your chest until your elbows are almost completely locked.
  • While maintaining a slight bend in your elbows, lower the dumbbell in an arc over your head until your biceps are next to your ears.
  • Reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

Sets: 5

Reps: 10

Rest: 30 seconds

3A. Prone Dumbbell Flys

Sets: 4

Reps 12

Rest: 30 seconds

4A. Renegade Rows

How to Do Renegade Rows:

  • Get into a press-up position with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Brace your body, then raise one of the dumbbells, supporting yourself on the other arm.
  • Row the weight upward until your upper arm is slightly higher than your torso, then slowly lower it back down to the ground.

Sets: 4

Reps:12

Rest: 30 seconds

Barbell Back Workout

Holding and stabilizing a barbell throughout your exercise places a lot of demand on everything from the traps down to the spinal erectors. This simple bar routine will thicken your back from side to side. Complete all sets for one exercise before going on to the next one. 

1A. Single-Arm Landmine Row


How to Do the Single-Arm Landmine Row:

  • Wedge the end of the bar into a corner.
  • Face away from the corner and hold the barbell behind the sleeve (where you load the weights) with your right hand.
  • Stagger your legs so that your left leg is forward and, keeping your lower back straight, bend at the hips until your torso is about parallel to the floor.
  • Draw your shoulder blade back and row the bar to your ribs.

Sets: 5

Reps: 10

Rest: 60 Seconds

2A. Deficit Deadlifts

How to Do the Deficit Deadlift:

  • Stand in the center and grasp the bar about shoulder-width apart while keeping your head and chest up.
  • Lower your hips to a comfortable position, then drive through your heels and extend your hips and knees on the way back up.
  • Avoid rounding your back.

Sets: 4

Reps: 10

Rest: 90 Seconds

3A. Yates Row 

How to Do the Yates Row: 

  • Hold the bar with an underhand grip at shoulder width.
  • Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, bend your hips back and lower your torso to about 60 degrees.
  • Row the weight to your belly button using momentum to begin each rep, but don’t let your lower back round. 

Sets: 4

Reps: 12

Rest: 60 seconds

4A. Pendlay Row

How to Do the Pendlay Row:

  • Start with the barbell on the floor.
  • Stand with your feet about hip to shoulder-width apart, and with your knees slightly bent, hinge forward from the hips and bend over until your upper body is parallel to the floor.
  • Grab the barbell with an overhand, slightly wider than shoulder-width grip. 
  • Brace your core, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and pull the bar up into your abdomen.
  • The bar should touch your stomach. Your upper body should remain stationary throughout.
  • Under control, lower the barbell back down the floor and allow it to touch down. 

Sets: 3

Reps: 15

Rest: 90 seconds

Building a Barn Door Back

A giant barn door back is usually an indicator of a dedicated lifter. So if you want to build a giant back, make sure the next time you hit back to try out one of these killer workout programs.