The All-Dumbbell Workout to Build Huge Back Muscle

One-Arm Dumbbell Row
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The back is the most challenging complex of muscles to effectively train, and thus develop. But if you can get over the mental block that you can’t see your back muscles while lifting, and learn to make an intense connection with them, then you should be able to successfully ignite hypertrophy in your back. This dumbbell workout to build back muscle will help you do that.

When creating a back workout, you have to consider a lot of muscles: lats, teres major and minor, rhomboid major and minor, posterior deltoid heads, mid/upper traps, and spinal erectors. Training such a huge diversity of muscles requires several different types of movements, planes of pull, and grips. And while it’s certainly cool to have a wide, V-cut back, or achieve that thick-as-a-building look, you’ll need to combine wicked width, thorough thickness, and sensational separation to really drop jaws when you take your shirt off.

That’s our goal here. Prepare yourself—it won’t be easy. This workout is quick, but it’s balls-to-the-wall intense, and it’ll address every inch of muscle on your back.

How It Works: The All-Dumbbell Back Workout

This workout incorporates a training method I call add-on sets. The add-on set method is an advanced training protocol. It’s designed for lifters who have been training for a few years, and who have a high tolerance for pain and nausea (not kidding).


As the name implies, the add-on method begins with one base exercise, and then add on another exercise at each progression. I suggest arranging the workout so you address your weaknesses most frequently. (If you’re struggling with posterior deltoid development, for example, do the double-dumbbell face-down row first and, therefore, most often.) Each add-on takes the form of a superset. As with most  superset workouts, move directly from one exercise to the next without stopping, and rest only at the conclusion of the total superset. For example, you’ll do 3A., then 3B., then 3C. without resting; rest only after completing 3C.

Increase the rest periods between each exercise grouping as you add exercises. While you may only need 2 minutes to recover from the first superset or tri-set, you may need up to 5 minutes between the final two giant sets.

This workout also incorporates tempo, which determines the duration of each rep. Tempo is expressed in seconds; an “X” means “as explosively as possible.” The first number refers to the eccentric (negative) phase; the second number refers to the midpoint; the third number is the concentric (positive) phase. If there is a fourth number, it represents how long you’re holding in the contraction phase.


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