4 Back Exercises for a Big, Strong Back.  Make Back Day Great Again

4 Back Exercises for a Big, Strong Back. Make Back Day Great Again

I want to make back day great again. It’s always been my favorite day in the gym, so I thought I’d share a few back exercises you probably aren’t using that can help give you big, powerful looking back muscles.

I’ll give you 4 new back exercises, with videos… plus a full back workout to help you join the MBDGA movement. You’re in, right?

Note: This article contains affiliate links to products I use and believe in. They come at no additional cost to you. Also, consult your doctor before performing any exercise program. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

A Big Back is What Makes You Look Big and Strong.

What’s the true sign of a powerful body? It isn’t big arms, and it’s not a big chest either.

While most people in the gym focus on the muscles they can see while facing a mirror, it’s your back that really makes you look big and strong.

Big, thick traps. Wide Lats and a chiseled upper back. That’s what makes you look like a beast. That’s the power look. Powerful guys (and gals) have the look. And so can you.

3 Exercises For a Big, Strong looking Back

back exercises for a big back day

Here we go. Back day is getting an upgrade. Don’t skim this article and forget about it. You were searching for this and you found it, so digest it all and implement it.

Keep what you like and discard the rest. That’s what a smart lifter would do.

#1 Snatch Grip High Pull

The snatch grip high pull is an amazing back exercise. It can give you a bigger back faster than any other exercise, especially in the traps.

It can do this because it’s an explosive movement, targeting the most powerful fast twitch muscle fibers.

How to Perform the Snatch Grip High Pull:

  • Hold the bar with a snatch grip (wide, with arms around 40 degrees from the body.)
  • Use lifting straps so you can really focus on pulling with the upper back
  • Push your hips back as if you were going to vertical jump.
  • Explode the hips and pull violently with the traps.
  • Keep the bar close to your body, elbows high.
  • The bar should come at least up to your chest. If not, it’s too heavy.
  • Return to starting position and repeat for 3-7 Reps.

You can see bigger traps after just a few workouts with these. The fast twitch muscle fibers are much more capable of growth, and the upper back isn’t used to being hit explosively like this.

#2 Reverse Shrugs

Back exercises big back day

Reverse shrugs are an amazing way to work the middle and lower traps.

As you can see in the image above, the traps are not just the part you see when you look in the mirror. They extend down the middle of the back in a trapezoid shape. Hence the name “trapezius,” or just “traps.”

The trap muscle stabilizes the shoulders. It is responsible for elevating, rotating, depressing and retracting the scapula. It’s a postural muscle that you want to be strong. Plus, big traps just look badass.

How to Perform the Reverse Shrug Back Exercise

  • Start on a set of dip bars, arms locked out.
  • Let your body sink down, bringing your shoulders up towards your ears.
  • Push through your arms, focusing on using the upper back to pull your body back up, bringing your shoulders back down.
  • Hold the up position for 1-2 seconds, and repeat for 10-15 Reps.
  • Use a dip belt to add weight if you like. It definitely makes the movement tougher.

Reverse shrugs are an excellent addition to your back day. Developing the middle and lower traps can really help build your upper back. It’ll also strengthen the muscles that stabilize your shoulders and move your scapula and neck. Kind of a win-win.

#3 Band Pull Aparts

Band pull aparts can hit your rear deltoids in ways you’ve never felt before. They’ll also target your rhomboids and traps, making them an awesome option to help you get a chiseled and strong upper back.

On top of that, Band Pull Aparts can help boost your other lifts like the bench press and overhead press by strengthening the muscles that protect and stabilize the shoulders.

How to Perform Band Pull Aparts:

  • Grab a resistance band (aim on the lighter side) and hold it out in front of you around chin height, hands shoulder width apart.
  • Pull the band apart, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Hold for a one second squeeze, and return to the starting position.
  • perform sets of 10-20 reps, or perform as a finisher at the end of the workout by hitting 50-100 reps on short rest.

The burn you feel from these can’t be replicated by rear delt raises. Resistance bands are a really great tool to have and are very versatile.

#4 Farmer Carries

back exercise big back farmer carry

Farmer carries work your entire body. In particular, they really work your forearms (grip), traps, core and upper back.

Your arms can get bigger and stronger simply by holding onto heavy weight for prolonged periods of time. Farmer carries are an incredible exercise to add to your back day.

Me, performing farmer carries at home.

To Perform Farmer Carries:

  • Grab a heavy set of dumbells, kettlebells, or any other heavy implements.
  • Start walking at a quick pace. Keep your body upright while you’re walking.
  • Walk a set distance, or until you feel like you can’t hold onto the weight much longer.
  • Drop the weight, rest and repeat.

Farmer carries can put a lot of muscle on your body. Forcing your upper body to hold onto heavy weight and move is a huge stimulus for muscle growth, and can definitely help you get a big strong looking back.

Back Day is Back!

make back day great again

Use these 4 back exercises and build yourself a big, strong back. If you need help implementing them into your own back day, here’s a solid back workout you can use.

It’s split up into two training days. You should hit a muscle group like the back more than once per week to really get it to grow.

Supastrong Big Back Day Workout:

It should go without saying, but warm up first.

Back Day Workout A: Monday

Snatch Grip
High Pull
3-45 – 72 min
Chin Ups4Max90 sec
410-1290 sec
48-1090 sec
Chin ups and Reverse shrugs can be done weighted, if you so choose

Back Day Workout B: Friday

Deadlift3-452-3 min
Dmbl Row48-1090 sec
Farmer Carries440 yards90 sec
Hammer Curls415-2060 sec
Band Pull Aparts150-100None!

Additional Tips for Back Day Greatness

I do have a few more tips to help you make back day the best day and to help you get a bigger, stronger back.

1. Eat before your back day workout

On back day, you’ll be hitting a large amount of muscle and placing serious demands on your body.

Having a high protein and carbohydrate meal 1-2 hours before your workout is shown by research to lead to bigger muscle gains and better recovery.

Overall, make sure you’re eating a surplus of calories and getting around 0.7 grams of protein/pound of body weight each day to make sure your body has what it needs to build muscle.

2. Use the right supplements

Supplements can definitely help you get bigger and stronger faster. Just stick to the ones that are actually proven to work. Creatine, L-Citrulline, Whey Protein and a handful of others are all you really need.

I recommend checking out Bulk Supplements. You can get large quantities of pure supplement ingredients like creatine, protein or BCAA’s for much cheaper than you’d get at a store or by buying from other supplement companies.

3. Use BFR Bands for additional muscle growth

BFR (blood flow restriction) Bands are proven by research to force faster muscle growth using lighter weights and higher reps.

Using them as a finisher at the end of your back day workouts with some high rep curls and band pull-aparts can lead to additional muscle growth you’d otherwise be missing out on.

Check them out here for around $28. They’re high quality and have lasted me almost 2 years so far and payed dividends to my workouts and progress.

4. Keep learning. Knowledge is Power

I think it’s awesome that you’re looking for new ways to make progress in your workouts. Never stop learning.

Working out is a never ending journey of learning, trying out new things and finding what works and what doesn’t.

Check out these 2 articles if you want to learn more about how your body builds muscle:


Implement these 4 back exercises into your back day workouts however you see fit. Keep what works, and leave the rest behind.

I have no doubt these 4 back exercises can give a huge boost to your back training and help you build a bigger, stronger back.

As always, I hope this article helped in some way to get you a little closer to that best version of You! No get out there and make back day great again!

16 Bodybuilding Gym Exercises Using Resistance Bands.

16 Bodybuilding Gym Exercises Using Resistance Bands.

Just because you’re without the gym doesn’t mean you can’t get a solid workout in. And I’m not talking Pilates. I’m talking the same exercises you use in the gym. We’re just swapping out iron for some latex rubber resistance bands. These 16 resistance band exercises can help keep you big and strong while you’re out of the gym.

Studies have shown that adding resistance band exercises to your regular weight training routine can increase your strength more than weight lifting alone. So, incorporating some of these movements now can help you add them later when you return to the gym. You’ll have a new weapon in your arsenal for strength and size.

The Big Lifts… With Resistance Bands

We’ll start with the big lifts, which of course are:

  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Overhead Press
  • Squat

I’m certainly not suggesting that you abandon these lifts in exchange for using resistance bands. But, you are activating the same muscles with both forms of resistance. You have the same range of motion and ability to use variable speed in the movement. That said, there’s no doubt these can be effective at getting you bigger and stronger.

Disclaimer: 1. Check with your doctor before performing any exercise routine. 2. This article may contain affiliate links.


Banded Deadlifts mimic a trap bar deadlift, with hands at your side

The Deadlift is rightfully known as the king of all lifts. It uses the entire body in unison, forcing the legs, lower back, lats and traps to work hard to pull the body into an upright position against resistance.

Remember to keep a flat back. Flex your abs and push through the floor, just like you would picking up a barbell.

Here’s a great set of Resistance Bands at a reasonable price

Bench Press

While you probably could rig a resistance band to press similar to a bench press, it’s easier and just as effective to utilize a push up movement instead.

Wrapping the band behind your back, you’ll be pushing up against the resistance of the band. Control your descent and push up explosively, activating the most motor units (muscle fibers). Keep your body in a straight line. This version places more emphasis on the core than a traditional bench press.

Overhead Press

The overhead press is the best exercise to build your shoulders.

Using resistance bands, you can overhead press two ways. You can do it standing, with the band under your feet. Or you can perform it kneeling.

With either version, keep your abs tight and flex your glutes. This keeps your core tight and protects your back. Press up explosively, or do slower tempo style reps without any pauses.

Standard Press

Behind the Neck Press


If there’s a contender for the “king” of all lifts, it is definitely the squat.

Arguably the best overall muscle building exercise, the squat is one movement you definitely want to include in your training.

Place the band under your feet, in the middle of the foot. Then bend down and wrap the band around the back of your neck. Stand up, then sit back into the squat position. Keep a flat back, abs tight (as with all big lifts).

Traditional Squat

Overhead Squat

The overhead squat is a little more challenging. It’s easier with bands than with a barbell, so it could be a good way to practice the movement with some resistance.

Bent Over Rows

Rows essentially work your entire back. When you perform the row, try to hold and squeeze for a quick second, then lower the bands.

Sit back slightly until you feel like you’re activating your hamstrings. This establishes a strong athletic position so you can lean forward without putting too much stress on your lower back.

When you perform the row, try to turn your hands in so your palms are facing up (like a reverse grip row). This will allow more activation of the back muscles and the biceps.

Shoulders – Banded Front, Lateral and Rear Delt Raises

Along with the overhead press, you can also use resistance bands to target the shoulders with front and lateral raises. Both are great options to build strength and size in the shoulders.

Lateral Raises

Lateral raises primarily work the lateral deltoid, along with the traps. They are great for building wider, broader shoulders.

Front Raises

Front raises focus on the anterior deltoids. The anterior delts are responsible for raising the arm forward. This part of the shoulder usually takes a beating with all the pressing movements people do, but isolating it can help strengthen and build the muscle.

Rear Delt Flyes

Most people overwork the front (anterior) delts with all the pressing they do in the gym. This can result in imbalances in the shoulder, and can lead to injury.

Strengthening to rear delts is essential for shoulder health, and for getting stronger. They also make your back look good when you build them up. Hold a one second squeeze on each rep.

These can be an excellent movement to incorporate into a warm up for your pressing days in the gym, or as a finisher to any upper body workout.

Chest Flyes

Chest flyes get a good “squeeze” of the pectoral muscles. They are a great way to isolate the chest. Using bands, we can perform a low chest fly. As in previous exercises, hold the top position for a one second squeeze on every rep.

Good Mornings

Banded good mornings are a really amazing way to hit the low back and hamstrings. These are an excellent option as a warm up for squatting or deadlifting, or for getting some lower impact volume in for the back and hamstrings. Do these for 15-20 reps and you won’t be disappointed!

Keep a flat back with a slight bend in the knees and lean forward until you feel a good stretch in the hamstrings before returning to the upright position.


You can definitely build your arms up with resistance bands. They allow you to get a really good squeeze of the muscle, and you can really perform a good amount of volume (reps) without the same stress you’d incur using weights.

Hitting these for high reps will give you a huge pump, and you know that’s never a bad thing.


You can perform these as regular curls, turning your hand in at the top, or as hammer curls with a neutral grip. Both are great and I recommend mixing it up.

Triceps Extensions

These are performed as overhead extensions. If you have something to hand the resistance band from, you can also do regular extensions similar to the cable pulldowns at the gym. Both are great.

Try to keep your elbows high (pointed at the ceiling), and try not to swing your arms.

Split Squat

The split squat does a great job of isolating the quad muscles. Try to perform these in a rhythm, with no pause at the top or bottom, for 15-20 reps per leg.


Last but not least, shrugs. Traps are one muscle that all strong people seem to have.

While I prefer to hit the traps with high pulls, farmer carries and deadlifts, the shrug is always a good option to build them up, and we can still get it done without weights.

Hold the top of the shrug for a one second squeeze, and don’t rest at the bottom. Keep the muscle under constant tension.

Some tips on using resistance bands

If you’re going to use resistance bands to work out, there are a few things you can do to make your workouts more effective.

  • Try to focus on each rep and get a good squeeze.
  • Shoot for higher rep ranges (15-30). You can build up a lot of volume this way and stimulate some muscle growth.
  • Shoot for short rest periods (30sec – 1min).
  • Perform the workouts in a circuit. Choose 3-5 exercises and follow the above rep and rest period guidelines.
  • If it feels too easy, use a heavier band. If it feels hard, use a lighter one. Seems obvious, but worth mentioning. Lose the ego.


A lot of people view resistance bands as inferior, but most of those people have never worked out with them. You can build muscle and strength with bands. Research has proven that, and incorporating them along with traditional resistance training can improve your gains.

Try some of these exercises out. Make the most of your time away from the gym.

I hope you liked this article. Leave a comment, or shoot me an email and I’ll respond as soon as I can. Thanks for reading, and as always, I hope this helped you in some way to get a little bit closer to that best version of you!

Mike (Supastrong)
Mike (Supastrong)

Bioforce Certified Conditioning Coach and personal trainer. I’ve run boot camps and served as the wellness coordinator for a fortune 500 company. Currently a Federal Agent in San Diego, CA, and an Infantryman in the Army Reserve.

Build Your Traps.  Ditch the Shrugs.

Build Your Traps. Ditch the Shrugs.

Every skinny, weak guy has abs. Traps are the true sign of strength.

Paul Carter

I’d like to help save the weight-lifting world from the over-reliance on shrugs to build your traps and upper back.

Aside from the fact that half aren’t even shrugging properly, there are far more effective methods that can be utilized to build thick, powerful traps and a powerful looking back.

3 Moves to Build Your Traps

I want to give you 3 movements you can integrate into your training to really build your Traps and look YOKED.

Nothing screams strength and power like a set of big, thick Traps and a big upper back.

At the end of the article, I’m including a sample training session you can try out if you want a fresh approach to Back training with an emphasis on building bigger, thicker Traps.

All of these methods and more are included in my programming, SWOLE TOWN, available through the TrainHeroic app. Check it out for free here.

The Snatch Grip High Pull

build traps

This movement is hands down the number one most effective way to build your upper back and traps quickly.

The trap muscles are busy all day being utilized in a support capacity, and then we normally work them by shrugging… a slow movement done usually for medium to high reps.

Maybe it’s time to ditch the shrugs.

The High Pull is at the opposite end of the spectrum.

The explosive nature of the movement targets and stimulates the fast twitch muscle fibers of the upper back, which are far more capable of explosive growth.

I have witnessed growth in the traps and upper back after just a handful of sessions, and that’s no BS!

Highly recommend Bulk Supplements. You get more, pay less, and the ingredients are pure.

High Pull from the Hang Position

How To Perform

I first learned this movement by reading an article on T-Nation.com by Christian Thibaudeau many years ago. I’ll post a link to that article at the bottom of this post.

My goal is to help you, the reader… not make myself out to be some sort of guru.

The article is fantastic, and worth reading after this one if you’re serious about taking your back training to the next level.

I normally prefer to perform the movement from a standing position (hang position), as I am looking to target the upper back/Traps and not necessarily accrue the fatigue from pulling from the floor.

Be sure to really focus on the explosive pull of the traps, and keep the bar close to your body, elbows high (higher than the wrists).

When your traps are sorer than you thought possible the following day, you will know I wasn’t kidding!

Try 3 sets of 5-7 reps to start. Use straps, and use a weight where you can be explosive with proper form, yet still challenged.

The bar should reach at least to your lower chest on each pull.

When you’re pulling some decent weight in the high pull, you will be amazed at the results. It’s a game changer.

There are plenty of other ways to build up the traps and upper back, but I like this movement so much and I’ve seen such great results from it that it is definitely number one on the list of Trap Builders.

#2 – Hise Shrug

Ok, ok… I know I said ditch the shrugs.

But this is not the typical shrug most people are performing in the gym.

Hise shrugs put the weight on top of the Traps.

This can be accomplished with a barbell on your back, or by using the calf raise machine.

How To Perform

Put a barbell on your back, right on top of the traps.

Brace your trunk and Flex the Glutes for stability..

Shrug up, hold, and back down nice and slow.

In my opinion, it is better to do these with the calf raise machine. It’s far more comfortable.

Why are They So Good?

Hise Shrugs load the Traps and Upper back directly, and in a unique way that they are likely not used to.

The feeling of fatigue in the Traps from performing these is much different than traditional shrugs.

The new stimulus these can provide can be a solid way to induce some additional growth.

#3 – Farmer Carries

bigger traps farmer carry

Farmer carries are one of the absolute best, and least utilized builders of the Traps and Back.

The key word here again is TENSION.

Holding onto heavy implements and walking for an extended period of time (20-60 seconds) puts tremendous tension on the Traps, Back, Arms and Trunk.

That tension will lead to muscle growth, improved grip strength, improved Core strength and stability, and for sure some thick ass Traps.

How to Perform

To perform Farmer Carries, simply grab 2 heavy implements (Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Farmer Carry handles, etc..) and walk.

Be sure to:

  • Keep the chest up and stay upright. Do not hunch forward. If you can’t keep your posture in line, the weight is too heavy.
  • Challenge yourself. Like any other lift, you want to use progressive overload on these. Always look to get stronger and challenge the body by increasing weight, reps, distance, or all of the above.
  • Take small, choppy steps. Taking long strides will increase the risk of injury by putting one limb at a time under a heavy load.

Sample Workout For a Big Back and Huge Traps.

*Using this style of training, I would typically hit Back twice in the training week. This session would be one, and the other would be more traditional back training, comprised of Rows, Chin ups, etc.

Deadlift33-53 Mins
SG High Pull3-45-72-3 Mins
Farmer Carries3-540yd
(30 sec)
2-3 mins
Rear Delt Partials1-2Max RepsAs needed

*See video below for Rear Delt Partials if you aren’t familiar.


There’s a lot more to building up that YOKE than just shrugging yourself to death.

Shrugs can be effective, but you need a lot more variety than that to really build an impressive upper back and to really make your Traps look scary big.

The three movements I’ve listed here are the ones I believe to be the absolute best bang for your buck when it comes to building thick, strong Traps. I hope you’ll give them a try.

As always, I hope this article helps get you one step closer to your best self. Keep pushing!

Join hundreds of others, Take a Tour of Swole Town (free week).

If you want to check out the SWOLE TOWN training program, it’s right here.

Worth Reading:

High Pull for the Power Look – Christian Thibaudeau