“Bony” to “Bane” Back (DENSE BACK WORKOUT!)

If you ever thought of having a back like bane, this is the dense back workout you will want to follow. It can take even the most bony of backs right now and help build them into much thicker, denser bands of muscle like the popular Batman villain played by Tom Hardy. Now, the key to building a thick back is to perform exercises that focus less on width and v-taper and more on the front to back depth that you get from working on the mid back muscles.

In this back workout, you’re going to get a chance to use back exercises that are highly capable of developing the look you are after.

I’m going to present the exercises in this workout in the form of a choice. I want you to be able to think your way through your options to select the best back exercises for building up a bane back. The reason is, most of us are programmed to want to perform the same exercises over and over. The issue is, while they are all incredibly effective back exercises and can all help you to build a bigger back, some are better than others when it comes to building thicker, dense lats and back muscles.

So with that, we start with an important note. If you truly want to build the thickest back possible you are going to need to start deadlifting. There is no better exercise for creating back muscle density than the deadlift.

This doesn’t have to be a lift that is performed in your back workout however. In fact, Jesse used the deadlift as an exercise to build a bigger back by devoting a single day of lifting to it. He would also work it into his leg training as well. The point is, wherever you are programming it right now (even if on back day – which is totally acceptable) you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it.

Now, to kick off the back workout we start with the straight arm pushdown. Most of the time, this isolation back exercise is placed at the end of your workout for a dense back. This is going to change here. In order to pre-fatigue the lats and make the mid and upper back muscles do more of the work during this workout, we are going to put them first. Check the details at the end of this video for specific sets and reps on the exercise.

Next, we move onto the pulldown. The choice is between the straight bar pulldown or the v-handle pulldown. Well, when your goal is to build middle back thickness and muscular density you are going to want to opt for the close grip v-handle. Think about squeezing the shoulder blades down and together on every rep rather than just getting the handle to your chest.

Next is the pullup. Here again you have a choice. If you can do more than 10 pullups in a single set then I think your focus should be to start adding weight rather than more reps. Far too often the goal on this exercise becomes just higher rep counts. This isn’t ideal. Instead, add even a little bit of extra weight and start building up the thickness of your back a lot faster. Drop down to bodyweight sets after reaching failure for more volume if needed.

The next exercise is the row. Here you are going to want to opt for the chest supported variation. The idea again is to use a little less weight and let the lats do less of the work for you. You can make this even more possible by flaring the elbows out to the sides and letting them drift a big higher. This will shift the focus off of the lats and more to the upper scapular muscles and rhomboids.

The cable row is next, and ideally should be done standing if you want to build a bane back. The dual handles allow you to get your elbows further behind your body for a better contraction. The standing position demands that you maintain strong posture from your hips to your shoulders – working more back muscles in the process.

Finally, the traps are worked with a version of the shrug. Instead of the standard barbell shrug however think about starting every rep off the floor. This will work the erector muscles again (much like the deadlift, but with much lighter loads) and help to reinforce the thickness of the paraspinal muscles that are contributing to the overall back density. The shrug is still the same at the top of every rep which is going to build that big upper back that Bane was known for.

If you’re looking for a complete program that trains more than just your back to develop thick, dense athletic muscle, be sure to head to athleanx.com and use the program selector to find the program that is best suited to your current goals.

For more videos on how to build thick upper traps like Tom Hardy or the best back exercises ranked, be sure to remember to subscribe to our youtube channel via the link below and remember to turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it’s published.

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29 thoughts on ““Bony” to “Bane” Back (DENSE BACK WORKOUT!)

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    “FAST ACTION” Q&A* – Leave your most burning question about this video or any other training, PT or nutrition question within the first 2 hours of this video’s release (AS A SEPARATE COMMENT!!) and I will pick 8 to get a detailed reply from me right here in the comments. Answers will be posted within the first 24-48 hours of you leaving the question. Good luck!

    • saif khan says:

      hey Jeff would you recommend the t-bar row and have you made any videos about it, regarding form and programming it into your training. As a cricket player which is similar to baseball for you guys in the STATES and Canada, would it be a better option than the pulldown for a more athletic demanding exercise, as your on your feet?

    • Matthew Clark says:

      @Lutfa Begum ​ Man, I think you should speak with a doctor or something. It could be just a pulled muscle or something trivial but a herniated disc is also possible, I hope It’s not that. Did you wake up one morning unable to move like your back was frozen solid in pain?

    • Chronicler says:

      Can diabetics build muscle? Ive recently learned i am and i have begun taking the necessary steps with cardio and diet. One of my burning questions because diets must have carbs in them but we are restricted.

    • sunder rajan says:

      Can you make a video on how to bulk up like tom hardy did for the dark knight rises character bane please Iv been asking for this from a long time

  2. Navers Kay says:

    Just what I needed on my back Mondays! I usually start with a deadlift, so I can utilise my energy there first, then do the pulldowns/pullups, followed by some form of row. Doing a pushdown as a superset after a pulldown really does add a lot more tension!

  3. Bubsy Brown says:

    As much as I appreciate seeing the odd new exercise to incorporate into my workouts, can’t help liking when I see Jeff promote ones I regularly already use (straight arm pulldown)

  4. Ethan Byrne says:

    Question for Q&A: what are your thoughts on training with pulled muscles, and is it safe to do so?

  5. Hapmaplapflapgap says:

    I’ve been training my back muscles with standard seated rows, but I’ve never actually liked that exercise, because the only things I feel afterwards are my biceps and wrists. So I’m happy to see some awesome alternatives here. Especially the straight arm pushdown is something I’ve wanted to see an example of for a while. Thank you!

    • chad bhaiyya says:

      Move your shoulder blades together when pulling, use the pull with your elbows cue, slow down the tempo maybe even incorporate a pause. Seated rows are amazing for me. Hope the tips help!

    • Baron_O'Beefdip says:

      You could also try doing them unilaterally. I had the same problem when I first started training, and really I still do when doing standard lifts, but I swear by unilateral back training.

  6. Gym Garage Man says:

    Great work guys! Been training back in old garage doing multiple variations of pullups no weights just hard work back ripped af even in my 50s!!!!

  7. John Ringhisen says:

    We need a Jesse time-lapse video. This past year, your channel and his progress have inspired this fellow skinny man to start down the same path. Grateful to you and everyone who supports your production, Coach.

  8. Javier Silveira says:

    Thank you for your videos Jeff, you helped me in my aproach to fitness and health. I’m a total beginner at 28, but with your instruction I’ve making progress safely since febraury. I can not thank you enough for literally help me to change my life for the better. Thank you

  9. Ahmad Alothman says:

    Can we all understand that it’s not only the intense training but also the right nutrition that helps get real results!!

  10. DragonGP says:

    As someone who was a trainer for over 20 years, I love to see Jesse’s progress. It makes me miss training clients.

  11. Mr haddock says:

    I was pessimistic about jesses gains when you first brought him on but how the tables have turned. It really does show what hard work and consistency can really do over the years. It was such a good idea bringing him on and very inspiring! Well done Jesse!

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