7 Exercises For A Muscular Back Like Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman is a former American bodybuilder. Coleman won the Mr. Olympia title eight years in a row, cementing his place amongst the all-time bodybuilding greats. He is often regarded as the greatest bodybuilder of all time, alongside other legends like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jay Cutler, among others.

Coleman even has a Guinness World Record title to his name as ‘The Most Muscular Man In The World’, but what made his physique so remarkable? While there are several hundred answers to that question, one of his most prominent features is his back.

If you’re trying to build all-timer gains like Ronnie Coleman’s, here are seven barbell exercises you can do for a bigger back:

How to Build A Massive Back Like Ronnie Coleman?

1) Deadlifts: The Deadlift is the first exercise that comes to mind when talking about back exercises.

To build a huge back like Coleman’s, you need to put excessive amounts of stress on your muscles. That goes hand-in-hand with Coleman’s ideology, wherein he says that he enjoys lifting heavy, as he believes it to be the best way for him to build muscle.

While deadlifts may not directly give you Olympia-level gains, they’ll certainly strengthen your back and lower body and will make the rest of the exercises much easier to perform.

Deadlifts use your back, lower body and core to power the movement, meaning you’ll develop a great deal of strength in all three places. To build mass, you’ll need to be explosive and lift as heavy as you can for 4-8 reps if you’re trying to build gains like Ronnie Coleman’s.

2) Bent-Over Rows: Bent-Over Rows target your entire back and use your core to stabilize your back motion. They’re a great exercise for building muscle throughout your back while also targeting your traps and rhomboids.

Some people would even prefer this exercise over deadlifts, if we’re talking solely about mass building, and not other benefits these exercises may have to offer. The best part about rows is their versatility.

By simply adjusting your grip, you can completely change which muscle the exercise would target. A wider grip would engage your traps, deltoids and rhomboids. A narrower grip would allow you to tuck your elbows in and work your lats.

Choose your grip depending on what you need to train. Ronnie Coleman prefers to perform 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps each to overload his muscles.

3) T-Bar Rows: T-Bar Rows are another great exercise for adding size to your back. While you may think you need a fancy T-Bar machine for this exercise, don’t worry, as you can do this with just a barbell and a few plates.

T-Bar Rows are convenient, as you only need to load one side of the bar. They are generally easier to do than bent-over rows, making them an ideal choice for beginners as well. You can also adjust your grip depending on how you feel.

4) Incline Chest-Supported Rows: Incline Chest-Supported Rows can be very beneficial when trying to build a big back, as they allow you to lock your chest and provide an additional layer of support for your body.

That puts the entire load on your back, forcing you to use your traps and lats to pull the weight. This additional stability means you can pull more weight, which in turn helps you build more muscle.

Apart from your back, this exercise also targets your rhomboids, deltoids and biceps, making it a great option for your upper body workouts.

5) Pendlay Rows: To look like a bodybuilder, you must train like one. Pendlay Rows are named after Olympic weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay. This exercise targets your entire back, much like bent-over rows. However, it requires you to reset after each rep when the bar touches the ground.

That makes it easier on your back, compared to bent-over rows. Owing to their similarities, this exercise targets mostly the same muscle groups as barbell rows, but they can be used interchangeably too. Your lats, rear deltoids, rhomboids, glutes and hamstrings are targeted in this exercise.

6) Meadows Row: Meadows Row is another rowing variation. It’s named after John Meadows, who first popularized this exercise.

This is a unilateral exercise that you can use to target each part of your back separately. It targets your back, biceps, lats and traps. Performing heavy compound movements is the key to building a massive back like Ronnie Coleman’s.

7) Yates Row: The Yates Row, named after legendary bodybuilder Dorian Yates, is another variation of the bent-over row. However, it makes use of a supinated or underhand grip, allowing you to target your lats more effectively.

While the difference is trivial, it can offer a great range of motion and an alternative to standard bent-over rows.


Ronnie Coleman’s physique is the result of decades of hard work and dedication. His love for bodybuilding was so profound that he even sacrificed his ability to walk.

Exercises aside, what makes Coleman so special isn’t his massive lats or his killer quads. It’s his never-ending drive and determination, and his undying love for bodybuilding.

If your goal is to build a physique like Ronnie Coleman’s, remember that he wanted it more than anyone else. So find that drive and passion, and the rest will come to you as you train.

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