Last Update  On January 19, 2012
Building a Thick Back Without Deadlifts

by Vladi
While deadlifts are a phenomenal back builder sometimes you may find yourself in a situation when you cannot do them due to injury, lack of weights, commercial gyms...etc. In this article I will present you a back workout without deadlifts that will help you build a thicker back.

Bent Over Barbell Rows / Chest Supported T-bar Rows

The bent over barbell row is the most underrated back exercise. You rarely see it done properly at the gym. All the time I see pathetic Yates row/shrugs done with tons of hip movement.(In case you wonder what's my take on the Yates row and why it just sucks as an exercise read this article.)

Bent over barbell rows are supposed to be done from a dead-stop like a deadlift with your back almost parallel to the floor. Every reps is pulled explosively. This is a power exercise not a triceps kickback. Also each rep should be pulled until the bar touches your lower chest/abs. During the whole exercise the back should be arched to the fullest in order to prevent injury and to recruit more back muscles and avoid lifting the weight with your arms.

However since this article is dedicated to back training without deadlifts you may be trying to avoid the deadlift because of lower back pain. If that's the case the barbell row may be too much depending on your condition. There is some decent stress on your spinal erectors during barbell rows. If you are in similar situation replace the barbell row with chest supported T-bar rows in order to reduce the stress on the lower back.

Recommended sets and reps:

2-3 warm-up sets between 10-12 reps;
1-2 working set to form failure - 6-8 reps;
1-2 back off sets between 8-12 reps;

Rest: 1-2 mins between warm-up sets;
1-3 mins between work sets;


Close Grip Chin-ups

The close grip chin-up is the most underrated chin-up variation. It's also one of the hardest due to the longer range of motion. I recommend that use use rings for this one in order to minimize the stress on your elbows. If want to know more about the close grip chin-up read this article.

Recommended sets and reps:

3 sets to form failure

Rest: 2-3 mins between sets


Chinese Dumbbell Rows

The Chinese Dumbbell Row is just a regular dumbbell row done without a bench and with extreme range of motion.

For more information on how to do them check out the video below at 5.07. Again if you can't deadlift because of back pain use a bench in order to take stress off the lower back.
Recommended sets and reps:

2-3 warm-up sets between 10-12 reps
1 working set to form failure - 6-8 reps
1-2 back off sets between 8-12 reps

Rest: 1-2 mins between warm-up sets;
1-3 mins between work sets;

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