Ectomorph Back Workout: COMPLETE GUIDE

By Ire | Workout

Dec 31

Do you think that back is not as important to work on, since you can’t really see it? Trust me brother, people will judge you from your back. So make sure to make them think twice before they do. I mean, nobody is going to mess with a guy that is so wide you can barely see what is behind. What is more, having a strong back improves posture. Nothing screams confidence more than a strong posture.

WHAT THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT

Ectomorph back workout is going to offer you tools in order to structure your own workouts. Knowing the science behind it, will allow you to personalize the training based on your body. It will also make it possible for you to change the workout in order to keep progressing. Because nobody has escaped hardgainer’s hell by doing same workout over and over again. Knowing what muscle you are working on and knowing how to activate it is crucial in order to build big bulging back.

I will go over five major muscles that should be targeting during your own version of Ectomorph Back Workout. I will explain anatomy of each muscle and how to target that specific part. What is more, I will give you the exercises for each muscle.

In the end, I will show an example of how I structure a back workouts for my clients. You will then have all the tools to structure your own programs as well. Lat the gains begin.

big muscular guy deadlifting heavy weights

WHAT MUSCLE GROUPS WILL WE TALK ABOUT
We will talk about six different muscle/muscle groups

1. LATISSIMUS DORSI
2. TERES MAJOR
3. TRAPEZIUS
5. RHOMBOIDS
6. LOWER BACK

BACK WORKOUT NEEDS:

1. ACTIVATION

I have already written a lot about mind-body connection and why it is so crucial for hardgainers. If you want to read more about that, read it under activation part in this article.

Not feeling back muscles working during a workout could be due poor mind-body connection. In that case, activation before your workout is crucial. Follow this routine below as a warm up for any Ectomorph Back Workout. This routine is what a famous YouTuber, and physical therapist Jeff Cavaliere recommends:

Perform each exercise with light weight focusing on back contraction for 1 minute. Slow movement is crucial! Take 60 seconds for each exercise.

1. Underhand Lat Pulldown Squeezes
2. Y Presses without any weights
3. Overhand Lat Pulldown Squeezes
4. Y Presses without any weights
5. Rocking Pulldowns
6. Stretch Pulldown

Guy with developed back muscles staring in the background

2. NOT COMPENSATING WITH ARMS

Back exercises are mostly pulling movement.  Most often, that is only done through using your arms as well. Arms muscles group is smaller and weaker compared to your back. When arms get tired, you will be unable to pull as much weight. That will not allow your back to really work as hard. But how do we limit the amount of work done by the arms? By utilizing two following ways:

GRIP:

By not gripping so hard, we can prolong fatigue in our arms. Using something like a hook grip, thumbless grip or straps in order to perform back exercises is actually not a bad idea. That way biceps will not engage as much, making it easier to focus on back muscles.

CORRECT TECHNIQUE:

Whenever you perform a pulling motion, elbows should come behind the body in order to maximize back contraction. I cannot stress enough how important this is, especially when I see so many people skipping that part of the movement. We can focus on doing that by a simple cue: Stick your chest out. By exposing your chest, the immediate response is normally to bring elbows all the way back, behind your body.

3. PUSH IT THROUGH THE LIMIT

Hardgainers/beginners,we often not understand where our limits are when lifting. Program says 8 reps, but you feel like you could do 12? For god’s sake, keep going up to 12. Even after 12, lower the weight and perform couple more. Really feel the burn and force your muscles to grow. It is important to realize that training through failure is a component of building hypertrophy.

However it should not be utilized during every single set and exercise. As a rule of thumb, do this only for the last set of any isolation exercise.

guy with a surfboard and big back muscles on the beach

4. GOING HEAVY

Intramuscular coordination is crucial, especially if you are training for a sport. Doing heavy compound movements will allow your muscle groups to work together. Because you don’t want to be in the following scenario of: “Looking like Tarzan, playing like Jane” (as strength coach Dan John puts it).

What is more, putting pressure on our body releases more testosterone and helps with protein synthesis, which forces hypertrophy.

HEAVY COMPOUND EXERCISES:
Deadlift
Pullup (progress to weighted if you can do more than 8)
Lying Rows
Barbell Dead Row
Lat Pulldown

UNILATERAL
Do you feel like you are little bit “twisted” because your dominant arm is always taking over. Is one side of your back unproportionally stronger or bigger compared to the other. By training unilaterally, you will have the ability to take one side out of equation and only focus on opposite side. That will eventually lead to more balanced muscle/size distribution.

It is important for rehabbing and pre-habbing for injuries (potential) that are caused by muscular imbalances. That is why I will also mention unilateral exercises in the bottom.

Hardgainer ab workout. Muscular gymnast flexing his abdominal muscles

LATISSIMUS DORSI

1. ANATOMY

Latissimus Dorsi or “Lats” is what is often talked about when discussing back training.
It originates from the vertebrae and bottom part of the scapula and attaches itself the the head of the humerus (ball in the shoulder).

IMAGE: Mikael Häggström

2. FUNCTION:

It is responsible for adduction, extension and internal rotation of the arm. Basically pulling arm down by your side with your palm up.

3. EXERCISES:

BILATERAL:
Lat pulldown, Underhand Lat Pulldown, Straight-Arm Pushdown

UNILATERAL:
One-arm Dumbell Row, One arm Straight-Arm Pushdown

TERES MAJOR:

1. ANATOMY:

Teres major is a muscle most of us never heard of. It originates from scapula and attaches just below the head of the humerus (where the thin part of the arm bone turn into ball)

IMAGE: Mikael Häggström

2. FUNCTION:

Its function is similar to Latissimus Dorsi, however Teres Major also has the ability to protract the scapula (happens when you push your shoulders all the way forward) and depress the shoulder.

3. EXERCISES:

BILATERAL:Wide grip Lat Pulldown

TRAPEZIUS

1. ANATOMY:

Trapezius is a huge muscle that is often very visible in anybody that even lifts. We divide traps into two parts due to muscle fibers going in two different direction. Either from top down (Upper traps) or from bottom up (Lower traps).

By Mikael Häggström, used with permission.

2. FUNCTION:

Upper traps are responsible of elevating the scapula while lower traps act in a way to depress the scapula. Therefore, different exercises would apply for each of them.

3. EXERCISES:

UPPER TRAPS:Barbell Shrugs, Rack Pulls, Face Pulls
LOWER TRAPS: Inverted Y, Cable Y, Reverse Flies

RHOMBOIDS

1. ANATOMY:

Rhomboid muscle group consists of Rhomboid minor and major. They are both buried under Trapezius. Due to their proximity and muscle fibers direction, they act as a unit. Their origin is at thoracic part of the spine and they insert on your scapulas.

modified by Uwe Gille derivative work

2. FUNCTION:

They act in a way that pulls shoulder blades closer together.

3. EXERCISES:

BILATERAL: reverse flies, Bat wings, Face Pulls
UNILATERAL: Scapula retraction on a cable row

LOWER BACK

1. ANATOMY:

Lower back muscles are especially important for back health. Lower back consists of many muscles that run down the length of the spine.

Henry Vandyke Carter - Henry Gray (1918) Anatomy of the Human Body (

2. FUNCTION:

Lower back muscles assist with trunk extension.

3. EXERCISES:

Hyper Extension, Single leg Bridges, Angel of Death

STRUCTURE:

As I mention in any other hardgainer workout, there is no golden rule when it comes to number of repetitions and numbers of sets. However, there are some guidelines:

1. Perform 150-200 total repetition per workout
2. Activation warm up phase should not be counted as reps
3. Be in 8-12 rep range when focusing on each muscle group separately
4. Be in 4-6 rep range when focusing on heavy compound movements
5. Have at least one exercise per muscle group
6. Perform at least one heavy compound exercise
7. Only count reps over 70% of 1RM on heavy compounds
7. Have at least one exercises that is unilateral


I know, a lot to remember. So take time when you structure your own Ectomorph Back Workout.

Ectomorph back workout complete guide. A guy climbing up the mountain with his shirt off, showing his lats.

ECTOMORPH BACK WORKOUT EXAMPLE:

1. ACTIVATION CYCLE
2. COMPOUND: 3×5 Deadlift (15 REPS)
3. LATISSIMUS DORSI: 3×10 Lat Pulldown (30 REPS)
4. TERES MAJOR: 2×12 Wide grip Lat Pulldown (24 REPS)
5. UPPER TRAPEZIUS: 2×8 Rack Pulls (16 REPS)
6. LOWER TRAPEZIUS: 2×10 Cable Y (20 REPS)
7. RHOMBOIDS: 2×12 Scapula retraction on a cable row (24 REPS)
8. LOWER BACK: 2×10 Hyper Extension (20 REPS)

SUMMARY:

Here we go, a complete guide on how to structure your own Ectomorph Back Workout. Understanding the principles behind your workout is extremely important in order to keep the gains coming. Only that way you can make adjustment based on your individual needs and not just following one-workout-fits-all approach.

Remember to add activation as a part of your warm up. Adjusting the grip and learning the right lifting technique is going to be another crucial point in order to not have your arms dominate the movement. Follow the structure principles and you will be just fine.

LIFT,EAT, SLEEP, REPEAT and LAT THE GAINS BEGIN!

About the Author

Hey, my name is Ire.I am a Personal Trainer/ Strength Coach based in Stockholm, Sweden.When you don't find me in the gym, I will most likely be on a Track and Field stadium throwing around a discus.

>