While inverted rows are often prescribed as a body weight exercise for back thickness, you won't get much resistance from them to thicken up the back.
This is because the percentage of body weight pulled is than 60% depending on the angle of the inverted row.
Pull ups provide much greater resistance, because you're pulling nearly 100% of your body weight. Most pull ups, however, are vertical pulling movements, and vertical pulls tend to widen the lats and back, not thicken them.
To thicken the mid back with pull ups, you have to perform pull up variations where you lean back and retract the scapula as you pull up. Here are 5 pull up variations to thicken up the rhomboids, lower traps and lats:
Q:The Program Design for the Ectomorph is by far the best article I have ever read for ectomorphs, which I am, and I've been weight training for over twenty years. You dispel a lot of myths, thankfully. I have some questions. 1. Do you train the above program 3 times a week? 2. Using Vince Gironda's 10-8-6-15, do you train to failure on each set (i.e. use 10RM / 8RM / 6RM / 15RM) or is training to failure bad for ectomorphs? 3. I've normally trained no more than 12 sets per workout. The above workout is 24 sets. Isn't it a bit much for an ectomorph? 4. I'd like to buy one of your books to read more - which would you recommend for ectomorphs specifically? Thanks for an absolutely brilliant article. Kalwant Leeds, England
My Answer: Yes you would perform the workout three times per week. With regards to training to failure, yes you train to failure on your 10RM / 8RM / 6RM and 15 rep max. Training to failure is not best for strength building, but it is good for SIZE building.
With regards to the total number of sets in the workout, high volume training is better for hypertrophy gains than low volume. As long as you stick to the rest periods, you will keep the workout to an hour.
Q: I have one question to ask: I have been training for a few months. Do you think that I should rest for 1 or 2 week without training? BTW I workout 3 times a week. -Kenny T.
My Answer: If you've only been strength training for a few months, then you're still a newbie. So I don't recommend prolonged layoffs within the first year of your training. Most of your gains in size and strength will occur in the first year of training, so it's best to take advantage of this window of opportunity.
If you want to take a break because you're going away on a trip or you're busy taking care of important matters, then by all means take a break. One week at most. Any longer and you will detrain and atrophy. In other words, you will lose size and strength the longer your layoff.
If you're an advanced bodybuilder and you've already got a decent amount of muscle and strength, then you can take periodic layoffs. People who've already built up a large muscular physique can maintain their physiques on less frequent training. Which is why you find a lot of bodybuilders hitting a body part directly only once a week. This is why Volume Four: Training for the Busy Bodybuilder is meant for the advanced bodybuilder.
Q: "Hi James, how are you doin'? I'm wondering what is the best the core workout for football. I play running back, and I need to develop my core. In my current core workout, I'm just doing some lying leg raises, hanging leg raises, and weighted crunches. Thanks. More power!" -RT
My Answer: Hanging leg raises are great, but if you want to up the intensity further and develop abs that can withstand the constant impact of football, then I suggest Dragon Flags:
Of course, if you find it difficult to do, then just do the negative portion. The key is to tighten up your whole entire body: abs, glutes, quads and arms.
Q:I bought your book. Well, I had my sister buy it for me from amazon and ship it here in the Philippines. I'm currently on my 9th week of the mesocycle and enjoying the workouts so far. BTW, can you suggest an alternate shoulder compound set, other than the upright row, lateral raises, swing combo? Thanks! Erwin
My Answer: Any combination of lateral raises should be fine as a substitute. The key is to target the lateral head of the deltoids with a high number of reps. Try this combo:
Seated lateral raises with a weight you can do 6-8 reps with. Then switch to lighter dumbbells and perform 10-12 reps
Q: Me again, I just switched over to the 5x5 program that you linked in the FAQ's of your ectomorph program. I started doing the "Mass and Muscularity" routine, but I have a question: Are the two exercise days only to be done two days out of the week? - Richie
My Answer: Yep the 2 exercise days are done twice a week.
Q:I have a question. My bench press seems to be suffering. I was doing 210 to 215 lbs about 7 to 8 times easily. Lately, I can barely do 5 or 6 without having to strain a little and rest before doing the last two. Should I take a break and do other exercises for a while? -Victor A.
My Answer: People go through strength losses every so often, so don't be too alarmed by it. Your nervous system is probably sick and tired of the bench press. Take a break from the bench press and do a variation of the bench press for a couple of weeks, such as the dumbbell press or the incline press. Then come back to the regular bench press. Your weights will go up when you come back once you get reacquainted with the exercise.
I know that you don't need me to write anything here, but I figured that I would give you some positive feedback while requesting your free workout.
I have volumes two and three of yours, and have found that you really know what you are talking about. I have told my friends and students (I am a high school physics teacher) about the results that I have gotten from your workouts.
My Answer: Thanks for the kind words, and I'm glad that the workouts have helped you out. Being a parent myself, I've been showing more concern about the educational system.
My wife works at a high school as well. Anyway I want to thank you for educating our youth as a high school teacher. A tough and under-appreciated job, but one that is crucial to our society's future.
Q: Hi, I'm an experienced weight trainer. Can you recommend the correct volume book of yours that I should get? I read some things on your blog about cutting up with fast paced workouts, using weight training as aerobic exercise. Can you tell me what book would be best for that? And also where I may be able to get it as an E-book?
Q: I just finished reading your article on widening your back. I was just wondering if you do all four techniques in one workout? My problem is my chest, arms, and shoulders develop very quickly especially as compared to my back.
Recently, I've resorted to just focusing on low weight and high repetitions on my chest, shoulders, and arms and heavy weights and low repetitions for my back. It's been successful to a certain degree as at least my physique is a bit more balanced. However I feel like I need to change things up as my back is no longer reacting to my work out which is why I stumbled on your article about widening the back.
Hope you can clarify my query and if you have any further advice that would be great.
My Answer: Yes each technique is a workout. Hence the title Wingspan WorkoutS. What you can do is rotate through each of the workouts for your back and put all other body parts on maintenance mode: 3 sets of 6-8 reps. This is a much better way of maintaining size and strength on your chest, arms and shoulders as opposed to employing high reps.