DC Training is a hardcore bodybuilding training program invented by Dante Trudel. DC Training works great for every body part but it works especially well for building a huge upper back!
- Part 1: DC Training Back Width Exercises
- Part 2: DC Training Back Thickness Exercises
In this comprehensive guide I will show you the best overall DC Training upper back exercises.
The DC Training program treats the upper back as two separate body parts: “back width” and “back thickness.”
Your back width muscles include your lats and teres major. These are the muscles that make your upper back appear wider.
On the other hand your back thickness muscles include your traps, rhomboids and spinal erectors although your lats also become thicker when fully developed.
With the DC Training program you perform 1 exercise for back width and back thickness on your upper body training day. Check it out:
DC Training Upper Body Day
- Exercise #1: Chest
- Exercise #2: Shoulders
- Exercise #3: Triceps
- Exercise #4: Back Width
- Exercise #5: Back Thickness
With DC Training you perform completely different exercises for back width and back thickness.
The best back width exercises include pull ups, cable pulldowns and machine pulldowns while the best back thickness exercises include deadlifts, barbell rows and machine rows.
Now let’s take a closer look at the absolute best DC exercises for back width and back thickness.
Part 1: DC Training Back Width Exercises
Dante Trudel says the key to building a wide back is getting a huge stretch in your lats. Check it out:
“If you would realize that back width is all about the stretch… you would be such the better bodybuilder for it.”
Dante Trudel says that the main goal of every back width exercise is to put your lats into a loaded stretched position. Every single back width exercise should be performed with the goal of getting a huge stretch in your lats.
Let’s start by looking at the back width extreme stretch that every DC Trainee uses. Check it out:
The Hanging Lat Stretch
The basic idea is to hang from a pull up bar using a relatively wide grip for 60-120 seconds.
Dante recommends you start out with just your bodyweight or perhaps an extra 45 pounds around your waist. Over time you can work up to using heavier and heavier weights for this exercise.
Here is the DC Training guru Dusty Hanshaw describing this exercise:
“One thing you’ll find with these, the natural thing to do when you feel a stretch is to want to resist against it when it starts to hurt.
If you notice that, if you feel yourself squeezing back up, what you need to do is to release even more, getting deeper into that stretch and just relax.
I do open my lats up just a hair but really it’s just about hanging there, breathing and really getting that full stretch.
This again is something a lot of people, extreme stretching, they want to leave it out, thinking it’s not necessary. It’s really something I credit for building up my lats.”
Many other bodybuilders including Chuck Sipes, John Parillo and John Meadows are also big fans of this extreme stretch. When used correctly this stretch can make a huge difference in the appearance of your lats.
Dante Trudel says that this exercise single-handedly took his lats from his worst body part into his best body part.
Now let’s look at some of the best regular back width exercises. Dante Trudel says that rack chins are the absolute king for back width. He calls them his “back width pronto” exercise.
Here is a perfect demonstration of rack chins:
Rack chins are kind of like a wide grip pull up with your feet supported in front of you on an incline bench. Rack chins have many advantages over regular pull ups for the serious bodybuilder.
First of all they are much easier to execute with perfect form. Most advanced bodybuilders have a hard time performing wide grip pull ups with their chin clearing the bar on every rep. It is much easier to perform full range of motion reps with rack chins because you are in a mechanically stronger position.
Rack chins also force you to round your upper back forwards which places your lats into a HUGE loaded stretched position.
Here is Dusty Hanshaw describing his favorite back width exercise:
“The key here is that stretch and holding the pause at the bottom. This exercise really opens the lats up. There’s no better exercise for back width than rack chins. If you do this exercise you will grow.”
Another great DC Training back width exercise is the cable pulldown. Once again Dante likes his bodybuilders to use a wide overhand grip for this exercise. The wide grip places your lats in a larger stretch and does a better job of targeting your upper lats.
There are a few different ways that you can perform your lat pulldowns. Some DC Trainees like to use a good amout of “body English” or momentum to get the weight moving.
Here is IFBB pro Stan Efferding demonstrating this technique:
Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns
Other bodybuilders will use more strict form on this exercise. The choice is completely up to you.
You can also use any other cable or machine pulldown exercise to target the lats. There is no hard and fast rule for which pulldown exercise is best but Dante really likes exercises where you can get a deep stretch in the top position.
Another one of Dante’s favorite lat width exercises is called “Dante rows.” Check it out:
The DC Training guru Justin Harris says that this exercise is the absolute king of lat width exercises. For him nothing else even comes close!
Dante rows are almost like a hybrid between a cable pulldown, a cable row and a cable pullover. Your goal is to keep your upper back rounded throughout the entire range of motion.
If you perform this exercise correctly then you should feel a huge stretch in your lats in the bottom position and a huge contraction in your lats in the top position of the exercise.
Dante Trudel says he likes to use this as a “widowmaker” exercise for 1 set of 10-30 reps for advanced bodybuilders who really need to bring up their back width.
Part 2: DC Training Back Thickness Exercises
Dante Trudel says building a thick upper back is all about getting stronger on deadlifts and rows in the higher rep ranges. Most advanced bodybuilders shy away from these exercises in their training.
There is more than one way to skin a cat but if you want to use the DC Training program them you are going to have to throw around some heavy slag iron on your back thickness exercises.
Here is Dusty Hanshaw to drive this point home even more:
“The question I get asked all the time, what’s the secret to back thickness and detail like I have? It’s heavy ass weight done with basic movements!”
With DC Training you are going to rotate through 3 different back thickness exercises at a time. You only perform 1 back thickness exercise per workout and rotate through the different exercises per workout.
Most DC Trainees use 1 deadlift variation and 2 rowing variations in their training. If you have exceptional recovery ability then you can use 2 deadlift variations and 1 rowing variation. Let’s start by looking at the best DC Training deadlift variations.
The DC Training guru Dusty Hanshaw says that the regular conventional deadlift is the absolute king of back thickness exercises. Here is Dusty demonstrating this exercise:
The Conventional Deadlift
The standard DC Training recommendation for deadlifts is to perform 1 heavier set in the 4-8 rep range and one lighter set in the 9-12 rep range.
Dusty Hanshaw sometimes goes even higher than this like one set in the 8-12 rep range and one in the 12-15 rep range. The choice is up to you.
Another great DC Training deadlift variation is the rack deadlift. Many bodybuilders find that this exercise is more effective for building up the upper back because the reduced range of motion takes the legs out of then exercise.
Here is Dusty Hanshaw demonstrating the rack deadlift above the knees:
Dusty Hanshaw uses a similar rep range for his rack deadlifts as he does his regular deadlifts:
“On these again right back to the same rep ranges that I use on pull deads which is first set 6-8 reps, second set 12-15 reps and both sets to total absolute failure.”
Some DC Trainees can only make progress if they use one deadlift variation in their routine. Others can recover using 2 deadlift variations and just one rowing movement. The choice is completely up to you and what you can recover from.
Heavy rowing exercises are also a great choice for your DC Training back thickness exercises. Dante Trudel really likes barbell rows, t-bar rows, smith machine rows and any other rowing exercise where you can use a little bit of momentum and really throw around heavy weight.
Let’s start by talking about barbell rows.
There are many different ways that you can perform this exercise. In my experience one of the best variations is the barbell dead stop row.
Here is Dusty Hanshaw demonstrating this exercise:
The Barbell Dead Stop Row
The barbell dead stop row is an unbelievable back thickness exercise. The first half of the exercise is actually very similar to a regular deadlift. Once the bar reaches your upper shins you stop pulling with your lower back and start rowing your elbows behind your body.
If you perform this exercise correctly then you will get a huge contraction in your upper back.
Regardless of how you perform your barbell rows the important thing is to use a little bit of controlled body English. This will help you handle heavier weights and stimulate more growth in your upper back.
Another great DC Training back thickness exercise is the t-bar row. Check it out:
The T-Bar Row
Dusty Hanshaw is giving a picture-perfect demonstration of this exercise. Dusty stays extremely tight with his form but he still uses a little bit of momentum to get the weight moving in the bottom position.
This is exactly what you want!
If you try to use literally perfect form without any cheating at all then you will be forced to use lighter weights and you won’t stimulate quite as much growth.
Here is Dusty Hanshaw describing his form on the t-bar row:
“Because I’ve been injured in the past on these I like to keep the rep ranges a little higher. I’m doing sets of 12-15 on both working sets, but again absolute failure.
Tight form, nice controlled negative and I’m making sure my back is doing all the work.”
Another great DC Training back thickness exercise is the smith machine barbell row. Here is Dusty Hanshaw demonstrating this exercise:
The Smith Machine Row
The smith machine row is actually Dusty Hanshaw’s favorite rowing exercise. Here is Dusty describing this movement:
“I prefer these over regular rows because I can use a little more momentum to get the weight moving and lift more weight.
With the smith machine I can do so safely and effectively and tax my entire back. When I do smith rows I do 2 working sets of 12-15 reps per set.”
DC Training is all about moving heavy ass weight with good form in the traditional bodybuilding rep ranges.
If you get freaky strong on exercises like barbell rows, t-bar rows and smith machine rows then you are going to have a huge back.
You can use a “flexing and squeezing” rowing movement as one of your 3 back thickness exercises if you really want but most DC Trainees get their best results focusing on the basic barbell rowing exercises.
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DC Training treats the upper back as two separate muscle groups: back width and back thickness. For your back width exercises you want to focus on different pull up and pulldown exercises and really go for a deep stretch on every rep.
Some of the best DC Training back width exercises include wide grip pull ups, rack chins, wide grip pulldowns, Dante rows and of course the hanging lat stretch.
For your back thickness exercises you really want to focus on deadlifts, rack deadlifts and heavy rowing exercises.
I recommend you use a little bit of momentum on your rowing movements. If you can do this while maintaining perfect from then your upper back will explode in size.
Before you go, check out my other world-class articles on DC Training:
- DC Training: The Ultimate Guide!
- DC Training: A Simple Step-By-Step Guide!
- DC Training While Cutting: The Ultimate Guide!
- The DC Training Push Pull Legs Workout!
- The Dusty Hanshaw DC Training Program!
Trust me – you won’t find this cutting edge information available anywhere else!
Here is Dante Trudel with one more deep insight into his DC Training program:
“I could teach an orangutan to drive a stick shift quicker than I could teach you my DC Training program!”
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training program!
What’s going on! This is my own personal training log. Follow along as I train to become The World’s Strongest Natty Bodybuilder! Also, check out my NEW online coaching program: DC...
What’s going on! This is my own personal training log. Follow along as I train to become The World’s Strongest Natty Bodybuilder! Also, check out my NEW e-books: The Dr. Mike Training...