In the past year or so, I’ve been obsessed with trying to build a bigger and thicker upper back. In my opinion, nothing is more aesthetically pleasing than a well built and thick back. Now when I’m talking about a bigger back, I’m not talking about building bigger and wider lats. I’m talking about the upper back mass that, from the side looks like I have some crazy extra back padding under my shirt that increases my overall size thickness from the side. I don’t know if that’s necessarily how to put it, but that’s what I want.

upper-back-strengthI’ve found that the BEST exercise for building upper back mass is the face pulls exercise.

Now when I first started trying to develop thicker back muscles, I was focusing on t-bar rows, rack pulls, deadlifts, and rows. All of that added a good slab of meat to my lats and middle back, but I felt that my upper back was not where it should be. Because from the side, my chest stuck out, but my back resembled a flat vertical line with almost no back shape. I talked to a few friends that told me to work out my rear delts more and do rear delt flies because that will add to the appearance, but it wasn’t what I wanted and in my eyes, that was not the way to add serious mass either.

So I started to do some research and found that doing rows to the face and neck were the best ways to build the thickness I was looking for. Ever since I’ve incorporated face pulls exercises to my workout routine, my upper back thickness has increased like crazy. I love doing face pulls. It doesn’t take that much weight to stimulate the muscles either. Many guys that I’ve seen in the gym usually try to perform this movement with weight that is too much for them to handle and end up using the momentum of their body to pull the weight to their face. This can also force the mid and lower back to come into the equation and you definitely don’t want that.  This is horribly wrong, and is just asking for injury. This is not one of the exercises that you should go overly heavy on.

If you feel that your upper back is lacking thickness and you want to build that 3D thickness look from behind, definitely try the face pulls exercise. I’ll post a video by Scott Herman of how to correctly perform the exercise for all of you who are not quite sure how to do it.


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John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

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