In some ways, back workouts are the straw that stirs the drink in your workout program. 

A strong back is essential for safely and effectively performing the compound exercises that deliver the majority of your muscle and strength gains. 

In other words, a strong, muscular back is like a ballast for your performance. No matter what you throw at your body—squatting, pulling, pressing, or even running, skiing, or throwing—your movements depend on a sturdy, dependable back.

Sadly, many weightlifters neglect back training routines because, unlike workouts for the chest, shoulders, biceps, and quads, you can’t easily see their results in the mirror.

This is a mistake, and the big back workout plans in this article are the solution.

If you want to learn what a complete back workout routine looks like and the seven best back workouts for mass, keep reading.

The 7 Best Back Workouts for Mass and Hypertrophy

Below are seven of the best back workouts for men and women, whether you work out with a barbell, dumbbells, machines, cables, bands, body weight, or all of the above.

If you’re looking to add mass to your back quickly, you want to do these back day workouts.

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1. The Best Back Workout for Mass

This is an outstanding “big-back workout” with gym equipment. It contains the perfect mix of compound movements to train all the muscles in your posterior chain (the muscles on the back of your body) and enough sets and reps to build muscle without wearing your to a frazzle.

If I could only recommend one back day workout routine, this would be it:

2. The Best Back Workout for Mass with a Barbell

If you train in a “spit-and-sawdust” gym or home gym and only have access to a barbell, you can still do effective workouts for back mass. Here’s a perfect example:

3. The Best Back Workout for Mass with Dumbbells

Not having access to a gym full of equipment shouldn’t stop you from doing back workouts for mass. Grab a set of dumbbells and give this hypertrophy back workout a try.

  • One-Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 sets of 4-to-6 reps
  • Dumbbell Deadlift: 3 sets of 8-to-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Upright Row: 3 sets of 8-to-10 reps
  • Dumbbell Pullover: 3 sets of 8-to-10 reps

4. The Best Back Machine Workout for Mass

If you don’t have access to free weights (while traveling, for example), this is the best back workout you can do using only machines.

  • Machine Row: 3 sets of 8-to-10 reps
  • Lat Pulldown: 3 sets of 8-to-10 reps
  • Seated Cable Row: 3 sets of 8-to-10 reps
  • Cable Pullover: 3 sets of 8-to-10 reps

5. The Best Cable Machine Back Workout for Mass

You don’t need barbells and dumbbells to spur muscle growth—you can do a complete back workout using a cable machine alone. Here’s an outstanding cable back workout for mass:

  • Seated Cable Row: 3 sets of 4-to-6 reps
  • Lat Pulldown: 3 sets of 4-to-6 reps
  • Cable Pullover: 3 sets of 6-to-8 reps
  • Face Pull: 3 sets of 6-to-8 reps

6. The Best Resistance-Band Back Day Workout

If you’re just starting out, returning to training after a layoff, or enjoy mixing up your work outs, you can still do a solid hypertrophy back workout with bands. Here’s an effective routine:

  • Banded Row: 3 sets of 10-to-20 reps
  • Banded Pulldown: 3 sets of 10-to-20 reps
  • Banded Upright Row: 3 sets of 10-to-20 reps
  • Banded Face Pull: 3 sets of 10-to-20 reps

7. The Best Bodyweight Back Day Workout for At-Home Training

You don’t always need free weights and machines to create an effective back workout routine. For the routine below, you only need your body weight (and a towel):

  • Pull-up: 4 sets of 10-to-20
  • Inverted Row: 4 sets of 10-to-20
  • Towel Face Pull: 4 sets of 10-to-20

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How to Organize Your Back Workout Schedule

If you’re new to weightlifting, training your back with one of the big back workouts above is ideal for gaining size and strength.

However, if you’ve been training for more than a year, rearranging your back workout schedule so that you train your back twice weekly can yield better results.

That doesn’t mean you should choose two of the back day workouts in this article and do them both each week—that would be overkill. 

Instead, make one of the back workouts above your main back day, and then include some extra back volume (sets) in another workout later in the week. 

For example, you could do one of the back day workouts from above on Tuesday, then add 3-to-5 sets of pull-ups or rows to the beginning of an upper-body, pull, or arm day on Thursday or Friday.

3 Tips to Get More Out of Your Back Workout Program for Mass

1. End every set 1-to-3 reps shy of muscle failure.

As I explain in my fitness books for men and women, to maximize your results, you must take most of the sets in your back day workouts to within a rep or two of failure.

Ask yourself at the end of each set, “If I had to, how many more reps could I have gotten with good form?” If the answer is more than two, increase the weight or reps to make your next set more challenging.

2. Once you hit the top of your rep range for a set, move up in weight. 

If your back day workout calls for 4-to-6 reps of the deadlift and you get 6 reps for a set, add 10 pounds to your next set.

If you manage 3 or fewer reps with the new weight, reduce the weight by 5 pounds to ensure you stay in the 4-to-6 rep range. 

Follow this pattern of trying to add reps or weight to every exercise in every workout.

3. Take the right supplements.

These supplements can help you optimize your performance and gains while following a back workout routine:

  • Protein powder: Protein powder, such as whey or casein, provides your body with the nutrients needed to build muscle tissue and recover from workouts.
  • Creatine: Creatine boosts muscle and strength gain, improves anaerobic endurance, and reduces muscle damage and soreness from your workouts.
  • Pre-workout: A high-quality pre-workout enhances energy, mood, and focus, increases strength and endurance, and reduces fatigue.

(If you’d like even more specific advice about which supplements you should take to reach your health and fitness goals, take the Legion Supplement Finder Quiz, and in less than a minute, you’ll know exactly what supplements are right for you.)

Back Day Workout FAQs

FAQ #1: Which exercises best work the back?

The best back exercises allow you to lift heavy weights safely, progress regularly, and train several back muscles simultaneously. For 25 back exercises that meet these criteria, check out this article:

The 25 Best Back Exercises for a Full Back Workout

FAQ #2: What are 3 exercises that strengthen your back?

The three exercises that strengthen your back most efficiently are the deadlift, barbell row, and pull-up. They train the most overall muscle mass and typically allow you to lift more weight and progress more regularly than other back exercises, which is vital for gaining strength. 

There are also many variations of these exercises if you can’t do the three above (if low back pain prevents you from deadlifting, for example). Some of the most effective include:

FAQ #3: How do I start back day?

It’s generally a good idea to do your hardest exercises first in your back workouts for mass, followed by the second hardest, and so forth, because you always have the most energy and focus at the beginning of your workouts.

In most cases, this means you’ll begin your back days with the deadlift (or a deadlift variation). And if you don’t deadlift, start with the barbell row or pull-up.