Designing a Routine Part I.b for BACK

Building Muscle

“To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone” – Reba McEntire

Symmetry is the hallmark of good training. Bodybuilders, physiques competitors, and avid gym dwellers strive for just the right proportions.

The Back, comprising of multiple muscle groups, plays an important part in all of this. Guys, if you really want that small waistline you need Lats that flare. Some of us ectomorphs have to work them for days, but it is attainable.


Very attainable. Assuming, of course, your nutrition is in on point, and you are training a minimum of 3 days a week.

Muscle Groups Worked

  • Latissimus Dorsi The “Wings” the Lats 
  • Teres Major The little Lat 
  • Rohmboids 
  • Trapezius 
  • Erector spinae 

Frank Zane, a bodybuilder from back in the “Glory Days”, became known across the land for his hyper-focus on symmetry. You just don’t rack up the titles he did without it.

While not a bodybuilder in the competition sense, I have followed his approach for years and base a good deal of my workout strategies around his knowledge.

I also believe in targeting muscle groups from multiple angles and being slightly unconventional. No wackadoodle broscience, just creative.

The Goal

To not only build strength and definition, but to focus on proportion.

The Workout (Option 1)


I was taught that if you choose these on Back Day instead of Leg day do them first. A compound exercise utilizing all the muscles in the back and some in the legs, keep reps low.

Warm up Set

Working Sets 8, 6, 6 or 5 x 5

Alternating Close Grip Lat Pulldown 

Get a Grip


Why close grip? A common misconception is that a wide grip = wide lats. A closer grip, slightly shoulder width apart, is more effective.

Sets 3

Reps 12, 10, 10,

V-Bar Pull 


Because it’s a tried-&-true mass & thickness builder for the Lats & Rhomboids, I continue to use V-Bar Pull downs in a 5 sets of 5 rep range, using heavy weight.

Sets 5

Reps 5

✔ Tip: Keep rest periods here longer than others. 2 minute range or more. Why? Your using heavy weight.

Bent over Dumbbell Row


Sets 3

Reps 12, 10, 10

Pull ups/Unassisted

These are a no-brainer. When I was a struggling newbie, a fellow gym-goer said to me once, “If you really want to put all these knuckleheads to shame, everytime you walk in to the gym, go straight to the pull up bar and crank out 15, then go work out.”


It’s just one of those things that’s just stayed with me.

Sets 2

Reps “Until failure” “To fatigue” I still say, “As many as you can”

Standing Lat Pulldown

A good way to help isolate the Teres Major, or “Little Lat”


It’s also effective as you do not have the knee pads to use as resistance as you do in sitting. Focus on keeping your core tight and knees slightly bent.

Stand facing the stack with arms raised out front parallel with the floor. Grip bar shoulder width apart and pull down. Hold for a 2 count. Raise and repeat.

In all of my finishing exercises I reduce weight to lower and perform high rep sets.

Sets 3

Reps 15, 12, last set as many as I can.


The shoulder blade squeeze. This just feels awesome. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 20 – 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Now your ready for a protein shake, or your Tupperware full of egg salad, or 2 boiled chicken breasts, or…..

Read more from Frank in his interview with Flex : Q&A with Frank Zane



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