People are pretty good at seeing through little white lies told in conversation. You know when somebody is blowing smoke, as it’s not hard to read their body language or see simple holes in the logic they’re trying to sell you. If your training partner tells you that he squats 1000 and weighs 175, you’re probably going to know he’s lying. However, if one of the biggest guys in the gym tells you that reverse-grip underhanded super-slow wrist curls (or some other silly exercise) is the secret to his mass, you’ll at least consider what he’s saying to be a possibility. Initially, the details will be so complex you may not understand it. Then, you’ll probably want to believe him because, well, he is the biggest guy in the gym. Then, one of his friends may agree with him, and you’re just plain sold on it.
The same type of myth perpetuation occurs in gyms and bodybuilding magazines. The same pencil-neck ghostwriters have been delivering columns for these pro bodybuilders for decades. (You didn’t think Ronnie used words like that, did you really?) And for all of that time, they’ve been perpetuating a myth which seems to have stuck. They’ve convinced generations of bodybuilders that it is actually possible to make your back wider through the use of wide-grip pulldowns and chins. This just simply isn’t true.
The truth is that your body has a very finite width. You may be 26 inches from lat to lat. This can’t change. You cannot grow wider. What you can do, however, is to use a wide variety of exercises to stimulate the muscle of the back into growing. You’ll often see pro bodybuilders who have grown 20-30 pounds in the past two years. Their backs appear to have gotten wider too. They will probably attribute their new width to some new training format they’ve been using on back day. The truth, however, is that the back muscles on them appear wider because the lats are bigger. Through whatever weight gain method they employed – whether it was higher reps or some new exercise – they stimulated the back to grow. But then they followed it up with a large amount of calories, growth hormone, insulin, and who knows what else! Remember, for a 250 pound muscular man to add 20 pounds of lean muscle, it’s definitely more than some new exercise technique being employed.
As an amateur bodybuilder, there are two things you can do to increase the perceived width of your back. The first is to train the back while eating a lot of clean bodybuilding foods. Your back muscles, along with the muscles of your arms, legs, chest, and shoulders, will grow. Second, you need to keep your waistline in check. The width of the back is often a perception which is delivered because of a well-muscled back viewed in conjunction with a small waist. If you’re carrying a belly, it won’t matter how big your back is – you’ll never be the guy with the wide back!
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