4 Old School Back Exercises You Need to Start Doing Again

4 Old School Back Exercises You Need to Start Doing Again

A well developed back is one of the main elements for having a well-defined body. Also, many old school bodybuilders used to focus on building an amazing back. After all, the belief in the ’90s was that there is nothing better than a stunning back. However, that unique back definition was not easy to achieve as it seems. Therefore, we ask the ultimate question about how these athletes were able to develop this muscle group.

1. Pull Ups

The first notable exercise that makes our list is the pull-up. Moreover, this conventional exercise is one of the most effective for the upper body.

To be more specific, it can significantly speed up the development of the latissimus dorsi. (Also known as “lats” among bodybuilders). Therefore, this exercise has a direct impact on the lats. This is based on the fact that the lats are on the top and outside of each shoulder and down the back. And by expanding your lats you can build a more wide back.

The V-Shape

The pulls ups can also help in developing the so-called V-shape.

Developing a strong V-Shape is the backbone for building great aesthetics and formidable physique. Moreover, this element is very important. It can give symmetry and balanced proportion to your back.

Building a V-shape taper begins with building the lats. And the best way to develop the lats is to focus on pull-ups. Therefore, this exercise is one of the main components for building a well defined back.

Also, exercises such as deadlifts and chin-ups can have a significant impact as well.


The rhomboids are another muscle group that can be developed by doing pull-ups. This is because the rhomboids tend to support the lats. Also, a strong rhomboid means a strong front and core too.


Another classic old school exercise is the T-Row. Moreover, this conventional exercise is somewhat undermined in today’s commercial gyms. With the development of various machines, many young bodybuilders tend to avoid this exercise. However, it can be described as the hidden gem of many old school bodybuilders including Arnold.

Also, if you want a thick, densely-muscled back, you need to do more rows. Furthermore, it is recommended to use T-Bar. This is because the T-bar row gives you a proper neutral grip. In the same time, this exercise can put your body in the biomechanically most effective position to pull from. This gives T-bars an advantage (compared to dumbbell rows) since you can load more weight.

3.Pendlay Row

The Pendlay Row is named after Glenn Pendlay, an American Weightlifting Coach.

The Pendlay Row is also one exercise that is undermined in today’s modern bodybuilding. However, this movement can offer a broad spectrum of benefits. Moreover, it is especially effective for the back muscles. Also, many old school athletes used this exercise to gain more power, strength and mass.

Therefore, this row variation can significantly increase your back strength and muscular development.  

Also, this exercise can have a significant impact on your deadlifting. This is because it can develop and stimulate the lats with additional strength and stability. Additionally, it can help to improve your deadlift technique. And by applying the isolation on the back, bodybuilders can initiate more muscular hypertrophy. Therefore, this can increase the effectiveness of your workouts.

4. Rack Pulls

The rack pull is another exercise that has gone under the radar lately. Moreover, some bodybuilders argue that regular deadlift is the more effective exercise. And to be perfectly clear, the deadlift should be the preferred choice.

However, there are several reasons why you should take this exercise out of the locker.

The first and foremost is that it can increase the strength in the deadlift movement.

Also, the second benefit can be seen through the prism of hypertrophy. Additionally, it can have a positive impact on your lower back.

To be more specific, many weightlifters fail to keep their back straight during the deadlifts. This is especially notable in many beginners at the gym. Also, this can initiate your upper back to round. Therefore, this can have a negative effect on your lower back. And this might be the reason why many bodybuilders feel tightness after doing deadlifts.

The Lower Back Effect

The lower back is one of most undermined parts of the body. In other words, many people tend to avoid doing lower back exercises.

Also, the argument is that there are not enough exercises about this significant body part. However, we need to look at the hypertrophy again. The rack pulls will also initiate a lower back growth. Therefore, it can give you more support for conducting the compounds workouts (squats, deadlifts etc.). Therefore, the rack pulls can actually strengthen the lower and upper back as well. And also can be beneficial for the core and your lifting technique.


On a conclusive note, we can state that a well developed back is an integral part of the body transformation. Also, it is imperative to have a strong and solid back. This is actually one of the main prerequisites for reaching new fitness levels. Moreover, it can give you the basis for massive muscle gains. Therefore, it is crucial to focus on these old school back exercises. The end result can be a wide, thick, strong and well defined back muscles.

Chris Hazen | @thechrishazen | thechrishazen@gmail.com

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