“His chest is freakin’ huge! Look at the arms on that guy!” That’s what a lot of guys want people to think when they see them. But I can spot the guys who focus too much on one area of their body a mile away. They look unbalanced, out of proportion and kind of like a cartoon character come to life. Nothing wrong with big arms and a huge chest but they’d look so much better with a muscled v-taper back that lends width and balance to the physique. It’s the key to having versus not having a great back.
Based on my observations in the gym most people get caught up in one big mistake with back training. I’ve always enjoyed working with heavy weight. Heavy deadlifts or rows, etc. work great, but the main thing I learned as I became more experienced in bodybuilding is that exercise technique is the main contributor to developing a beautiful back, not necessarily the amount of weight you are moving. It may be the number one body part that requires a sense of feel for the muscle being worked more than any other. You might be able to get away with a bit of loose form on other body parts now and then (not that I recommend it), but you will not get away with it with your back training. Unless you can feel the lats contracting on every rep of pull-downs/pull-ups and feel the mid-back contracting on rowing movements, you’re just movin’ weight and not affecting muscle in the most effective or efficient manner.
That fact separates the wannabe’s from the people who want a complete and balanced physique. If your ego gets in the way and you’re the typical gym guy who tries to use the entire weight stack on lat pull-downs and then gyrates with every rep, you will not develop a superior looking back. If you perform pull-ups or rows and every body part is working and moving in an out-of-control fashion, you will not develop a great back.
By the way, the photos of my back were taken as I was preparing for the 2010 Mid-America WNBF show in Indiana when I was 52. No special routines or exercises are needed just because you’re not 20 anymore; just hard work and a strong belief that your age will never hold you back.
Form is king but your mind runs the show. You want it? Go get it.