Lifting and the Curse of Small Bones
Despite the fact that I am fairly muscular, I have a very small bone structure.
Before I started lifting, I looked like a skeleton from behind, with scapula sticking out of my back like a slinking cat.
My wrists in particular are extremely thin, and I can overlap my thumb and pinkie finger around one.
In general, it is hard to get big muscles on small bones.
Conventional lifting advice, while sometimes useful, doesn’t always work so well.
Anyone with a similar frame can attest to this, and it can be frustrating if you don’t know what to do.
Through trial and error, I’ve figured out some methods that do work, and will work for anyone else with small bones.
3 Steps to Building a Thick Back
Here are three steps that you must follow if you have small bones and want to develop a thick and muscular back.
1) Develop Your Rear Delts
Although not technically a “back” muscle, well-developed rear delts are actually a key part of back thickness. Developing rear delts are also a key part of how to get big shoulders.
Reasons to focus on rear delts include:
- Developed rear delts will add a “3D” quality to your upper body
- Having big rear delts will make you look thicker, especially from the side
- A physique that lacks rear delt development will look narrow, sunken and imbalanced
Tip: Use a lot of volume when working rear delts, as shoulders in general respond well to high volume
2) Get Thick Traps
Although deadlifts and other compound exercises do work the traps, if you want to build a thick, strong upper back, this alone may not be enough.
- Don’t be afraid to do direct trap work, like shrugs
- But be sure to stretch your traps afterwards, so that your neck doesn’t get tight and give you hunched over posture
Luckily, traps are easy to develop and tend to grow quickly, especially if you work them directly.
If you work on your traps and rear delts with discipline and persistence, you will be well on your way to having a thick back.
However, there is one, all important exercise that trumps all the others.
Step #3, and the #1 best exercise for building back thickness and muscularity is:
Heavy dumbbell rows
Let me say that again: Heavy. Dumbbell. Rows.
This is the absolute, #1 best exercise in the world for building your back in the gym.
When you dumbbell row:
- Focus 100% on gaining strength
- Go as heavy as you can (while still maintaining decent form) and aim for around 3-5 reps
- Always remember to keep a tight core
Be sure to do high-rep dumbbell rows every once in a while, but what you really want to focus on most of the time is getting stronger on this exercise.
When you can dumbbell row 100+ pounds in each hand for reps, you will have a thick and impressive back.
So there you have it. If you are looking to build a bigger and stronger back, now you know exactly what to do. So next time you’re in the gym working back, focus on the 3 steps above, and I guarantee that you will see better results in your back development.
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Are you an ectomorph like me? What do you think about gaining muscle as a person with small bones, and how does it affect your workouts? Any thoughts, or advice you would recommend to others? If so, please share them in the comments section below.