The Top 5 Back Training Mistakes – Your Ultimate Back Training Guide


#1 Training for width, and training for thickness.

The back is such a vast and sophisticated muscle group, it’s often hard to train your back correctly. If you really want to step up your growth, you have to know how to train each part of your back, not necessarily in isolation, but to avoid becoming unbalanced, something that just leads to injury. Knowing how to make your lats wider (which makes you generally broader shouldered) is invaluable In your training knowledge database.

Fix it:

For upper lat width you need to focus on:

  • Wide grip exercises
  • Pull towards the chest when doing rows and similar movements.
  • Palms are generally facing away from you.

A Width heavy routine would include:

  • Close Grip “V” Handle Pull Downs
  • Behind The Neck Pull Downs
  • Wide grip chin ups
  • T Bar Rows

For back thickness focus on:

  • Close grip exercises
  • On row type exercises pull lower down the back, keeping elbows really tucked in to the body.
  • Palms facing you

A thickness heavy routine:

  • Deadlifts
  • One Arm Dumbbell Rows
  • V bar row/cable

#2 Not enough compound movements.

Over reliance on machines is probably the biggest error. Using a machine takes all the stablilsing muscles out of the equation. Machines may be more comfortable and lock you into a safe position, but a freer range of motion is generally superior for muscle stimulation.

Fix it:

  • Deadlifts
  • Rows
  • T bars
  • Cables
  • Chin ups

#3 Using the assisted pull up machine

This one could just be titled not doing pullups period. Of course, that’s worse than using the assisted pull ups, but, so many people are able to do a few pullups but still insist on using the assisted version. If you want to get bigger and stronger, you need to get better at full body weight chins.

Fix it:

  • Start every back session with chin ups. It doesn’t matter how many you can do, keep going until you can reach 40 total.

calves#5 Poor Form

The most common back form errors are using too much weight on row movements, and not enough on the wide grip pulldown movements. Another common error is a lack of full range motion in an attempt to increase time under tension on the back muscles, unfortunately, this stops your from activating the middle back as much as you should. The final is an over reliance on secondary muscles, especially the arms when it comes to pulling.

Fix it:

  • Use a ‘hook’ or ‘thumbless’ grip for pulling exercises. Your thumbs are still involved, just the same side as your fingers. This puts as much strain on the back as possible and takes it out the arms enabling you to properly fatigued the back. Usually, the arms can tire before the back and ruin your workout.
  • Always go full range of motion, to really activate the rhomboids, you must ‘reach out’ at the end of each movement.
  • Use a weight that you can manage.

#6 Inadequate rep ranges.

Vary your rep ranges and DO HIGH REPS! Even the most experienced athletes still find themselves working in the middle ground ‘hypertrophy’ training territory, often having a go to rep routine. This is damaging to any goal milestones.

It’s time to let go of the standard crap we read which goes as follows:

1-5 reps strength
8-12 reps Hypertrophy
15+   Muscle endurance

Sure, this might represent a very general rule, but it’s basically how to most effectively capitalize on training when you first begin training. This guideline is utterly useless for those who have been training for more than 3 years and is fundamentally flawed since it assumes we all respond the same.

You might be someone who responds extremely well to high rep or low rep training, but have been doing 10 reps for fear of losing what you’ve got.

It’s a rookie mistake to assume that you’re only going to achieve growth through the 8-12 rep range. If you’ve been in the gym for years and this is your ‘default’ rep range, then you’re missing out on some serious improvements.

For optimal muscle growth you’ve got to stimulate the muscle as much as possible and sometimes that is better achieved by doing 18 reps rather than 10. Let it be known; you can build considerable muscle on 15-25 rep sets. Some of the best muscle growth occurs when people are just trying to implement plateau busting techniques.


  • Train for back thickness and width appropriately
  • Make it your goal to get better at chin ups, the better you are – the bigger and stronger you’ll get. It’s undenaibly the king of the back workout.
  • Ditch the machines.
  • Make sure you don’t fall into a standard rep range.


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