25 Best Backs in Bodybuilding History

Here is our list of the 25 best backs in pro bodybuilding.

Best Backs In Bodybuilding
Best Backs in Bodybuilding

Having a strong, sculpted back is a hallmark of success in bodybuilding. With legendary figures like Ronnie Coleman and Lee Haney showcasing some of the best backs in history, it sets an aspirational standard for many enthusiasts.

This blog will delve into the best backs in bodybuilding history, share insights about their workout routines, and offer tips to help you achieve similar results. Ready to get inspired and take your back training to another level? Let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways

  • Sergio Oliva, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, Flex Wheeler, Ronnie Coleman, and other legendary bodybuilders have showcased some of the best backs in the history of bodybuilding.
  • Each athlete achieved their impressive back muscles through dedicated training and high – intensity workouts that targeted specific muscle groups.
  • Proper form and technique, along with a focus on strength training and muscle definition, were key factors in developing these exceptional backs.
  • Their backs are characterized by wide lats, thickness, symmetry, vascularitygrainy texture, feathered wings, size proportionality, and aesthetic appeal.

Legendary Backs in Bodybuilding History

Sergio Oliva, Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, Flex Wheeler, Ronnie Coleman.. These are just a few of the legendary bodybuilders known for their impressive back muscles in the history of bodybuilding.

Sergio Oliva

Sergio Oliva Pose
Sergio Oliva / Facebook

Sergio Oliva, renowned for his legendary back amongst bodybuilding champions, brings an impressive physique to the stage. His muscularity and aesthetics stand out with a distinct V-taper and muscle density rarely seen elsewhere.

Tipping the scale at 225-235 lbs on a frame of 5’10” tall with a chest measurement of 59″, he showcased proportions desired by most in the industry. With three Mr. Olympia titles under his belt, Oliva’s back serves as an inspiration for current competitors – large in sizethick and detailed beyond belief.

His finely sculpted physique boasts not only symmetry but also definition that truly set him apart from other athletes.

Lee Haney

Lee Haney Back Pose
Lee Haney / Instagram

Lee Haney stands as a giant in the world of bodybuilding. With an impressive physique that is both powerful and aesthetically pleasing, he has earned his place among the legends of this sport.

His back, muscularly developed with an exceptional level of detail, sets him apart even in such elite company.

The secret behind Haney’s mesmerizing back results from his unyielding dedication to his training regimen. Endurance and strength are synonymous with Haney’s name due to consistently high-volume workouts known for their intensity.

It’s said that patience was his most excellent virtue while building up his timeless physique during the late ’70s, which still looks modern today—proving again that Lee Haney rewards those who dedicate themselves fully to their goals.

Dorian Yates

Dorian Yates Back Pose
Dorian Yates / Instagram

Dorian Yates, with six Mr. Olympia titles to his name, earned legendary status in bodybuilding circles largely due to his phenomenal back development. His back showcased extraordinary density, thickness, and a grainy texture that set him apart from many of his peers.

Undeniably muscular and imposing, Yates’ distinctive physique was the result of meticulous high-intensity strength training designed to push him past perceived limits. Crucial within his workout regime were exercises specifically targeting the enhancement of muscle definition in the back area.

Above all else though, Yates credits much of his success in cultivating such a noteworthy back to maintaining an intense mind-muscle connection throughout every training session.

Flex Wheeler

Flex Wheeler Back Pose
Flex Wheeler / Instagram

Flex Wheeler, a legendary bodybuilder, is well-known for his incredible back development. Standing at 5’7″ and weighing between 225-235 lbs, Flex showcases a physique with impressive proportions.

With his 24″ arms, 54″ chest, and tight 33″ waist, he presents a muscular package that demands attention. However, it’s his back that truly sets him apart. Flex exhibits mid-trap vascularity and prominent striations in this area of his body, making him one of the best backs in the history of bodybuilding.

His unique qualities contribute to an aesthetic appeal that is hard to match.

Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman Back Pose
Ronnie Coleman / Instagram

Ronnie Coleman is synonymous with legendary backs in bodybuilding. When it comes to impressive back muscles, Coleman’s stands out as one of the best in the sport. His back is often described as a “spectacular landscape” with feathered refinements that catch everyone’s attention.

What sets his back apart are his low-lying and ultrawide lats, which contribute to its size and strength. It’s no secret that Coleman achieved this through dedicated training and intense exercises focused on developing his muscular physique.

Shawn Ray

Shawn Ray Back Pose
Shawn Ray / Instagram

Shawn Ray is a competitive bodybuilder known for his legendary back in bodybuilding. With impressive development and proportionate muscle growth, Shawn Ray’s back is considered one of the best in the sport.

His aesthetic appeal and muscular symmetry have contributed to his success as a bodybuilder. Having focused on strength training and muscle definition, Shawn Ray has achieved an upper body strength that sets him apart from others in the field.

When it comes to muscular back development, Shawn Ray stands as a prime example of what can be accomplished through dedication and hard work in bodybuilding.

Melvin Anthony

Melvin Anthony Back Pose
Melvin Anthony / Instagram

Melvin Anthony’s back is legendary in the bodybuilding community. Praised for its aesthetic appeal, his back showcases impressive definition and sculpted muscles. Known for his feathered wings, Melvin Anthony’s back stands out for its symmetry and proportionate development.

Even today, his finely detailed physique from the late ’70s remains modern and eye-catching. When discussing the best backs in bodybuilding, Melvin Anthony’s name is prominently mentioned, solidifying his place among the sport’s elite.

Phil Heath

Phil Heath Back Pose
Phil Heath / Instagram

Phil Heath is renowned for his legendary back development in the world of bodybuilding. His intense workouts are characterized by high volume and high intensity, resulting in exceptional back muscles that can be compared to the likes of Dorian Yates and Ronnie Coleman.

With a focus on proper form and technique, Phil’s back training is sure to inspire bodybuilders looking to build an impressive back.

Flex Lewis

Flex Lewis Back Pose
Flex Lewis / Instagram

Flex Lewis is known for his unbeatable back in bodybuilding. With a combination of old-school techniques and modern innovation, he has developed an impressive physique that showcases width and thickness in his latissimus dorsi muscles.

This creates a V shape, which is highly sought after in the world of bodybuilding aesthetics. Standing at 5’5″ tall and weighing between 225-235 lbs, Flex Lewis’s back is considered one of the best in the industry.

With 22″ arms and a 54″ chest, his muscular development is truly remarkable.

Chris Bumstead

Chris Bumstead Back Pose
Chris Bumstead / Instagram

Chris Bumstead, a renowned bodybuilder, has made quite the impact with his incredible back development. Over the years, Bumstead has transformed his back through dedicated training and hard work, resulting in significant muscle mass gain from 2019 to 2021.

His back is praised for its impressive size, shape, symmetry, and intricate detailing. As a three-time Classic Physique Olympia champion, Bumstead’s back is regarded as one of the best in the world of bodybuilding.

When it comes to working out his back muscles, Bumstead follows a high-volume and high-intensity approach. This means he pushes himself to the limit during each session to maximize muscular development.

By focusing on proper form and technique, gradually increasing weight and resistance over time, and incorporating variety into his workouts, Bumstead ensures that he achieves optimal results for his back muscles.

With Chris Bumstead’s exceptional dedication and passion for building an impressive physique, it’s no wonder why his legendary back stands out among other bodybuilders in the industry.

Whether you’re looking to admire greatness or seeking inspiration for your own fitness journey – Chris Bumstead serves as a true powerhouse example of what can be achieved through disciplined training and perseverance.

Big Ramy

Big Ramy Back Pose
Big Ramy / Instagram

Big Ramy’s back development is considered one of the best in bodybuilding. He takes his training to an advanced level by incorporating techniques like forced reps, partial reps, and negatives.

This allows him to target his back muscles with precision and intensity. The result is a remarkable level of detail and separation in Big Ramy’s back, reminiscent of legendary bodybuilders.

Not only does his back have incredible width and thickness in the latissimus dorsi, but it also boasts a modern look that harkens back to the late ’70s era. Big Ramy has truly achieved a desirable V shape with his impressive back muscles.

Brandon Curry

Brandon Curry Back Pose
Brandon Curry / Instagram

Brandon Curry’s back development is highly regarded in the world of bodybuilding. His muscular size and definition are on par with other legendary bodybuilders such as Ronnie Coleman and Dorian Yates.

The article emphasizes the significance of back development in competitive bodybuilding, highlighting how it contributes to a proportionate physique, muscular symmetry, and stage presence.

Brandon Curry’s impressive back is a testament to his dedication to strength training and achieving a competitive physique.

Chris Cormier

Chris Cormier Back Pose
Chris Cormier / Instagram

Chris Cormier, also known as “The Real Deal” in bodybuilding, is undoubtedly one of the legendary backs in the sport. With his X-frame physique, characterized by broad shoulders, a tiny waist, and a solid V-taper, Cormier’s back stands out among the best in bodybuilding.

Standing at 5’10” tall and weighing between 245-255 lbs with 22″ arms and a 52″ chest, he exemplifies power and definition in every muscle fiber. When it comes to muscularity and proportion, Chris Cormier’s back truly sets him apart on the bodybuilding stage.

William Bonac

William Bonac Back Pose
William Bonac / Instagram

William Bonac is widely recognized in the bodybuilding community for his impressive back development. His dedication to building a muscular and symmetrical back has given him a competitive advantage on the stage.

Recently, Bonac made the decision to switch divisions from 212 to open, allowing him to showcase his incredible muscle mass even more effectively. During his intense back workouts, he focuses on targeting the posterior muscles from all angles, helping him achieve the desired width and thickness that sets him apart as one of the best backs in bodybuilding.

Kai Greene

Kai Greene Back Pose
Kai Greene / Instagram

Kai Greene, a legendary bodybuilder known for his impressive physique and muscular development, possesses one of the best backs in the world of bodybuilding. With detailed symmetry and size, Kai’s back is truly remarkable.

His wide and thick lats insert low into his waist, creating a proportionate and aesthetically pleasing appearance. It comes as no surprise that Kai has won the Arnold Classic three times, showcasing his championship-worthy back on stage.

Comparable to the likes of Ronnie Coleman, Kai Greene’s back is sculpted with impressive definition and striations. Bodybuilding fans cannot help but admire the voluminous and awe-inspiring nature of Kai Greene’s back muscles.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger Back Pose
Arnold Schwarzenegger / Instagram

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a legendary figure in bodybuilding, is renowned for his impressive back muscles. His dedication to training and commitment to perfecting his physique made him a true icon in the fitness industry.

Schwarzenegger’s back workout routine consisted of exercises like deadlifts, bent-over rows, and pull-ups. These exercises helped him build immense strength and muscularity in his back, allowing him to showcase an incredible physique on stage.

Aspiring bodybuilders can learn from Schwarzenegger’s example by incorporating these effective exercises into their own workouts to develop a strong and well-defined back.

Robby Robinson

Robby Robinson Back Pose
Robby Robinson / Instagram

Robby Robinson, also known as “The Black Prince” in bodybuilding, is a legendary figure with a truly impressive back. Even though his prime was in the late ’70s, his back is still considered modern and incredibly well-defined today.

Alongside other bodybuilding greats like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kai Greene, and Phil Heath, Robby Robinson’s finely sculpted physique is praised by fans all over the world. His presence in the industry highlights the significance of developing a strong and muscular back for competitive bodybuilders.

Victor Martinez

Victor Martinez Back Pose
Victor Martinez / Instagram

Victor Martinez is a legendary figure in the bodybuilding industry, known for his impressive back development. His latissimus dorsi muscles create a wide V shape that is the envy of many competitors.

Despite Martinez’s career being from the late ’70s, his back still stands as a modern example of muscular development and proportionate physique. With exceptional size and strength, Martinez’s back remains unmatched in the world of competitive bodybuilding.

Whether it be through strength training or specific back training techniques, aspiring bodybuilders can look to Victor Martinez as an inspiration for achieving their own impressive back muscle definition and aesthetics.

Gunter Schlierkamp

Gunter Schlierkamp Back Pose
Gunter Schlierkamp / Instagram

Gunter Schlierkamp is renowned in the bodybuilding community for his legendary back development. In 2002, he achieved a remarkable feat by winning the GNC Show of Strength, defeating none other than Ronnie Coleman during his record run of eight Olympia wins.

Gunter’s success was attributed to his optimal training techniques under the guidance of Charles Glass, who helped him incorporate various angles and techniques to target his back muscles effectively.

This impressive back development played a crucial role in Gunter Schlierkamp’s rise to stardom in the bodybuilding industry.

Michael Francois

Michael Francois Back Pose
Michael Francois / Instagram

Michael Francois is a bodybuilding champion known for his legendary back. Winning the 1993 NPC nationals and dominating his first four pro contests, he left a lasting impact on the sport.

One of his key secrets to building an impressive physique was emphasizing deadlift exercises. This helped him develop a rugged look along the spine and thickness in the middle back.

Standing at 5’9″ tall and weighing between 270-280 lbs, Michael Francois showcased a timeless appearance that still looks modern today.

Samir Bannout

Samir Bannout Back Pose
Samir Bannout / Instagram

Samir Bannout is a bodybuilding legend known for his impressive physique and sculpted muscles. His back is widely recognized as one of the best in the sport, showcasing exceptional muscle development and definition.

Bannout gained fame for popularizing the rear lat spread pose, also known as the “Christmas tree” pose, which highlights his proportional development and muscular symmetry. In this article, you will find effective training methods and strategies from Bannout himself to enhance your back size and strength.

Don’t miss out on these valuable tips from a true bodybuilding icon.

Jean-Pierre Fux

Jean Pierre Fux Back Pose
Jean Pierre Fux / Instagram

Jean-Pierre Fux is a bodybuilding icon known for his impressive physique and muscular development, especially in his back. His broad back and long clavicles have made him stand out among other bodybuilders.

Despite being from the late ’70s, Jean-Pierre Fux’s back still looks modern today. With its aesthetic appeal, definition, and symmetry, it is no wonder that his back is considered one of the best in bodybuilding.

He showcased a dominant presence on stage with his balanced muscle groups and proportional physique, leaving a timeless impression on fans of classic bodybuilding.

Franco Columbu

Franco Columbu Back pose
Franco Columbu / Instagram

Franco Columbu’s back is still considered impressive and modern-looking today. Known for its width, density, and strength, his back showcases the results of his powerlifting background and training.

With a muscular development that embodies both strength and aesthetics, Franco Columbu’s back remains a testament to his legendary bodybuilding legacy.

Joel Stubbs

Joel Stubbs Back Pose
Joel Stubbs / Instagram

Joel Stubbs is renowned for having one of the widest backs in the history of professional bodybuilding. His back stands out due to its exceptional width and thickness, making it a benchmark for aspiring bodybuilders.

Joel’s training approach involves targeting the posterior muscles of his back from multiple angles, resulting in impressive muscle symmetry and development. His dedication to building a strong and muscular physique has set him apart from other competitors in the fitness industry.

Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler Back Pose
Jay Cutler / Instagram

Jay Cutler is one of the most prominent names when it comes to legendary backs in bodybuilding. His back is known for its immense wingspan and full rear torso, showcasing a remarkable level of muscle size and strength.

Cutler’s dedication to training his back twice a week with heavyweight and high volume workouts has contributed to its impressive thickness and width. Through hard work and perseverance, Jay Cutler has earned his reputation as one of the best competitors in the sport of bodybuilding.

Best Exercises for Developing a Strong Back

Deadlifts, pull-ups, bent-over rows, lat pulldowns, and T-bar rows are all essential exercises for building a strong back. Read on to learn more about how these exercises can help you develop powerful back muscles.


Deadlifts are widely regarded as one of the best exercises for developing a strong back in bodybuilding. Not only do they target multiple muscles in your back, but they also engage other major muscle groups like your hamstrings and glutes.

This compound movement helps build overall strength and power, making it an essential exercise for any serious bodybuilder. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself incorporated deadlifts into his basic back workout routine, recognizing their effectiveness.

So if you’re looking to transform your back and achieve significant muscle gain, make sure to include deadlifts in your training regimen.


Pull-ups are considered one of the best exercises for developing a strong back in bodybuilding. They target muscles such as the lats, traps, and rhomboids, helping to improve muscular development and overall upper body strength.

Pull-ups are compound exercises that engage multiple muscle groups at once, making them highly effective for building a powerful back. Additionally, pull-ups can enhance functional fitness by improving postural alignment and promoting better overall stability.

Different variations of pull-ups can also be incorporated to specifically target different areas of the back for a well-rounded workout routine.

Bent-over Rows

Bent-over rows are widely regarded as one of the most effective exercises for developing a strong back in bodybuilding. This compound movement targets multiple muscles, including the lats, rhomboids, and traps.

By bending over at the waist with a barbell or dumbbells in hand and pulling them up towards your chest, you engage these muscles to build strength and size. Many professional bodybuilders, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Heath, incorporate bent-over rows into their back workouts to achieve impressive results.

It is an advanced training technique that can contribute to muscle growth and overall back development when performed with proper form and technique.

Lat Pulldowns

Lat pulldowns are one of the best exercises for developing a strong back in bodybuilding. This exercise targets the latissimus dorsi, or lats, which are the large muscles that give your back that wide and V-shaped appearance.

By performing lat pulldowns, you can increase the size and strength of your back, helping you achieve that impressive double-biceps pose and rear lat spread on stage during competitions.

Make sure to focus on proper form and technique while doing lat pulldowns, gradually increasing weight and resistance over time to maximize your gains. Incorporating this exercise into your routine will help you build a muscular back that stands out in any bodybuilding contest.

T-bar Rows

T-bar rows are considered one of the best exercises for developing a strong back in bodybuilding. This compound exercise targets your latissimus dorsi and rhomboid muscles, helping to build upper body strength and improve muscle development.

By using a T-bar machine or barbell with appropriate weight, you can perform rows that engage multiple muscle groups in your back. Adding T-bar rows to your routine can contribute to overall back strength and help you achieve a well-rounded physique.

Tips for Building a Muscular Back

Focus on proper form and technique, gradually increase weight and resistance, and incorporate variety in your workouts. Want to know more about building an impressive back in bodybuilding? Keep reading!

Focus on proper form and technique

To build a muscular back in bodybuilding, it is crucial to focus on proper form and technique during your workouts. This means executing each exercise with precision and control. By maintaining good form, you can target the specific muscles of your back effectively, which promotes muscle growth and prevents injuries.

Whether you’re performing deadlifts, pull-ups, bent-over rows, or any other back exercise, pay close attention to your posture and movement patterns. This will ensure that you are maximizing the benefits of each exercise and getting closer to achieving your desired results.

Gradually increase weight and resistance

To build a strong and muscular back, it’s essential to gradually increase the weight and resistance of your exercises. This gradual progression is key for muscle growth and overall strength development.

Take inspiration from bodybuilders like Big Ramy, who incorporate advanced training principles such as forced reps, partial reps, and negatives into their workouts. These techniques challenge your muscles more intensely and promote better gains over time.

Remember, just like Michael Francois deadlifting over 700 pounds or Franco Columbu’s powerlifting background contributed to their impressive back development, you too can achieve amazing results by steadily increasing the demands on your back muscles through progressive overload.

Incorporate variety in your workouts

To build a muscular back, it is essential to incorporate variety into your workouts. By diversifying your training routine, you can target different muscle groups and stimulate growth from various angles.

Varying exercises such as deadlifts, pull-ups, bent-over rows, lat pulldowns, and T-bar rows will engage your back muscles in different ways. Change up the sets, reps, and weights you use to keep challenging your muscles and prevent plateaus.

Experiment with different grips and hand positions to emphasize different areas of your back. Mixing up your workouts with a range of exercises will ensure that you are working all aspects of your back effectively for optimal muscle development.


In conclusion, the world of bodybuilding has seen some incredible backs throughout its history. From the legendary Sergio Oliva to modern-day champions like Brandon Curry, these athletes have showcased immense dedication and hard work to achieve their impressive physiques.

With a combination of proper training, exercise variety, and consistent effort, anyone can strive towards developing a strong and muscular back in their own bodybuilding journey.

Published on August 31, 2023 at 11:57 am
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