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Can I Still Build Huge Back Muscle Without Deadlifting


Deadlifts, along with squats, are a bodybuilder’s basic exercises for getting big. What’s not so well known is that you can build a great looking, broad and strong back even without focusing on these. If you’re not that much into deadlifts, read below about the methods that help your back development.

There are other exercises proven to be highly effective for the back musculature. These are:

  • Rows
  • Pull-ups
  • Hyper-extensions with weights
  • Front squats
  • Rack pulls
  • Dumbbell shrugs
  • Barbell front raises
  • Lat pull-downs

Some gym goers don’t fancy deadlifts, are intimidated or for some reason they are not capable of performing such (could be, for example, the impossibility to hold one’s back straight). It’s a rather common situation and it shouldn’t prevent anyone from building mass.

I recommend weighted pullups in your workout. It helped me tremendously in putting size on my back.
I recommend weighted pullups in your workout. It helped me tremendously in putting size on my back.

Here’s a tip: You don’t even need to focus on deadlifts if you’re not a powerlifter. But if you are, then you must know similar exercises with a comparable effectiveness. For example, weighted pull-ups can make your back muscles grow quickly, better than isolation techniques (working with small, separate groups of muscles). Chin-ups are equally effective with major back muscle groups. It’s not true that only isolation exercises can develop your back like deadlifts, although many might tell you so. The examples above are sufficient and will work with every back muscle that matters.

What’s more to follow?

Besides the exercises mentioned above, you can also focus on compound movements, because these involve several muscle groups at once, thus creating overall strength and gains. Deadlifts are serious mass builders and therefore you need to be careful about which exercises you select to replace them. Do not opt for machine training, or for high rep pumping. This isn’t going to work for the volume and the V-shape you want.

Always choose to do 2 to 4 sets for your back. Consider having 2 main exercises and 3 others as assistance ones. Combine exercises for strength and mass.

What if you are not able to do deadlifts?

If you avoid deadlifts because you’re not feeling capable of doing them, then you should work on increasing your flexibility. Start stretching and squatting more. Similar results to back squats can be obtained if you do hip-centered exercises. Choose your movements based on your real issue. Is there an injury that doesn’t let you deadlift? Or perhaps you don’t have enough mobility? Also, lower gastrointestinal problems can be worsened by added pressure onto the abdominal area, thus preventing you from doing deadlifts and similar movements.

Go challenge yourself with heavier barbells. Develop lower body strength through exercises that target your hips, knees and legs, to be able to perform the bigger and tougher ones later. Here are the best suggestions to achieve lower body strength:

  • Single leg squats
  • Dumbbell walking lunges
  • Rear foot elevated split squats
  • Goblet dumbbell squats

To conclude

Deadlifts are still the best if you want lats muscle mass. These will work your whole back, involving every single muscle in it. The suggestions in this article are meant to build you enough strength to eventually be capable of that, too.

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