- 10 Best Muscle-Building Back Exercises!
- 1. Barbell Deadlift
- 2. Bent-Over Barbell Row
- 3. Wide-Grip Pull-Up
- 4. Standing T-Bar Row
- 5. Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row
- 6. Reverse-Grip Smith Machine Row
- 7. Close-Grip Pull-Down
- 8. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
- 9. Decline Bench Dumbbell Pull-Over
- 10. Single-Arm Smith Machine Row
- Back Exercises | 10 Of The Best For Building Muscle
- The Benefits of Training Your Back
- Back Workouts Will Fix Your Posture
- Back Workouts Will Reduce Your Risk of Injury
- Back Workouts Will Boost Your Bigger Lifts
- Back Workouts Will Help Develop Your V-Shape Physique
- Back Workouts Will Reduce Lower-Back Pain
- 1. Kettlebell Swings
- 2. Barbell Deadlift
- 3. Barbell Bent-Over Row
- 4. Pull-Up
- 5. Dumbbell Single Arm Row
- 6. Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row
- 7. Inverted Row
- 8. Lat Pull-Downs
- 9. Single-Arm T-Bar Rows
- 10. Farmers’ Walk
- Superset Back Workouts To Add Major Muscle Quickly
- How to do the workout
- 1A Pull-up
- 1B Hammer-grip pull-up
- Superset 2
- 2A Prone dumbbell row
- 2B Prone dumbbell flye
- Superset 3
- 3A Underhand lat pull-down
- 3B Seated row
- 1A Bent-over row
- 1B Upright row
- 2A Wide-grip lat pull-down
- 2B Seated cable row
- 3A Prone dumbbell row
- 3B Prone dumbbell flye
- Tri-sets Back Workout
- Upper And Lower Back Workout
- Pull Workout For A Stronger Back
- AMRAP Back Workout
- Best back exercises: the best lats workouts to reduce back pain, gain muscle and get a V shape
- 1. Deadlift
- 2. Lat pulldown
- 3. Pull ups
- 4. Bent over barbell row/one-arm dumbbell row
- 5. Kettlebell swing
- Don't forget your protein
- Always warm up!
- Need new gear for a new crack at the gym?
10 Best Muscle-Building Back Exercises!
When you crack your exercise toolkit open each week on back day, you've got a seemingly endless array of movements available. Knowing which tools are best suited for building a wide, thick back will help you get the job done faster, which is why we've assembled our list of top 10 mass-building back exercises.
While head-to-head exercise comparison research is a bit limited in this area, we selected the following 10 exercises factors such as available literature, how difficult each movement is, how much muscle each stimulates, and how unique each exercise is compared to others. This list will also help you figure out where to place each exercise in your workout.
If you get bowled over by the sheer number of rows you can do on back day, or even draw a total blank when thinking of new exercises to try, consider this list your new back blueprint.
But don't forget that picking great movements is only one part of building a huge back. Your overall program matters just as much! To see these moves put into action, check out the Bodybuilding.com BodyFit Elite Muscle-Building Workout Plans, where there are killer back workouts from Kris Gethin, Jim Stoppani, and dozens of other elite lifters and coaches.
1. Barbell Deadlift
Why it's on the list: This is technically more than a back exercise—it hits the entire posterior chain from your calves to your upper traps—but it's the absolute best for overall backside development. Technique is uber-important with the deadlift, but once you nail it, you can progress to lifting monster weights that will recruit maximum muscle, release muscle-building hormones, and help you get big.
There are also numerous deadlift progression programs you can follow to help you reach new personal bests. Physiologists love to prescribe the deadlift when programming for strength and conditioning because the exercise hammers your musculature and is one of the best choices to strengthen your bone structure.
There are also numerous deadlift progression programs you can follow to help you reach new personal bests.
Stick with the conventional deadlift on back day; other variations, the popular sumo-style, increase the activity of muscle groups other than the back.
In your workout: If you're going heavy (sets of fewer than about 6 reps), do deadlifts first so you're fresh. If you're doing deads for repetitions, you can do them later in your workout.
2. Bent-Over Barbell Row
Why it's on the list: This is probably the second-best back movement in terms of sheer weight you can lift.
EMG research has suggested that hitting bent-over barbell rows will work the larger muscle groups of the upper and lower back equally, making this a great overall back builder.
 the deadlift, this is another technical move that requires excellent form but rewards you with a ton of muscle.
In your workout: Do bent-over rows toward the start of your back workout for heavy sets in lower rep ranges, about 6-8 or 8-10.
The Smith version is a suitable substitute; it locks you in the vertical plane, but your body has to be in just the right position relative to the bar.
The bent-over barbell row has a significantly greater lumbar load than many other back exercises, so it's best done early in your workout in order to save your lower back. If you're wrecked from deadlifts, it may behoove you to skip this movement.
3. Wide-Grip Pull-Up
Why it's on the list: It's always a good idea to have an overhead pulling movement in your back routine, and the pull-up is one of the best. Wide-grip pull-ups are excellent for putting emphasis on the upper lats.
A closer grip may allow for a longer range of motion, but it may be possible to load the wide-grip pull-up to a greater degree because of an optimized starting joint position.
The biggest challenge here for most trainers is training to failure in the right rep range for growth, which is 8-12.
If you do pull-ups early in your workout, you might have to add a weighted belt. Of course, if you find them difficult, you can always use an assisted pull-up machine or a good spotter, or switch to the wide-grip pull-down, which is a solid substitute. If your shoulders are healthy, pulling behind the head is okay.
Good form is extremely important here. In the starting position, the scapula should be retracted—pull your shoulder blades down and toward each other—prior to initiating the pull.
In your workout: Because the pull-up range of motion is so long, several light reps make great warm-up moves for the shoulder joints. Since form is so important with these, it may be best to push pull-ups toward the front of your workout to ensure proper shoulder-joint positioning.
4. Standing T-Bar Row
Why it's on the list: We selected the T-bar row over a chest-supported version because you can pile on much more weight here, even though that typically translates into a bit of cheating through the knees and hips. For some, maintaining a flat back can be challenging, in which case the supported version is a better choice.
These aren't squats, so keep your legs locked in a bent angle throughout. You also typically have a choice of hand positions and width. A wider grip will put more emphasis on the lats, while a neutral grip will better target the middle back (rhomboids, teres, and traps). This exercise is probably one of the easier rows to spot.
These aren't squats, so keep your legs locked in a bent angle throughout.
In your workout: Do this toward the front half of your workout. Rather than slinging weight around with this movement, really focus on the stretch and contraction of the back.
If you're an experienced lifter, load up with 25s instead of the 45s, and further increase range of motion by allowing a slight protraction of the scapula at the bottom of every rep.
If you do this, be sure to “reset” with a flat back before initiating the next pull!
5. Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row
Why it's on the list: Just about everyone defaults to the close-grip bar on rows. If that sounds you, you'll find using a wide grip on a lat bar a nice change of pace because it shifts some of the emphasis to the upper lats.
Wide rows mimic some back machines, so don't do both in your workout unless you make some other kinds of changes, grip or target rep range.
You might even try flipping your grip—and going about shoulder-width apart—which better targets the lower lats as the elbows stay tighter to your sides.
Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row
In your workout: machines, cables are best done toward the end of your workout. Choose a weight that enables you to complete no more than about 12 reps.
6. Reverse-Grip Smith Machine Row
Why it's on the list: Reverse-grip movements mean two things: The biceps play a greater role, and with the elbows now pulling back close to your sides, the target becomes the lower portion of the lats. The Smith machine allows you to concentrate only on pulling as much weight as possible, since you don't have to worry about balancing it.
Bend over about 45 degrees, staying close to the bar, and expect a little contribution from the hips and knees when you're pounding out the heavy sets. While some gym rats consider the Smith machine taboo, the fixed plane of the movement and ability to really control a weight (think tempo of four seconds up and four down) can be both a novel and humbling exercise.
In your workout: You don't need more than a single reverse-grip movement in your routine. Do it about midway through your workout, after your heavy overhand pulls. At any point in your back workout, don't be afraid to throw on some wrist straps. Your goal is to hammer your back and put it through the wringer, not be constantly limited by your grip strength.
7. Close-Grip Pull-Down
Why it's on the list: Since we've already covered the wide-grip pull-up, the wide-grip pull-down is too similar, so we opted for the close-grip handle for our pull-down selection.
EMG research suggests that use of a close neutral grip activates the lats similarly to a regular grip, so you're not missing out on any muscle fibers.
 As mentioned earlier with pull-ups, a closer grip does allow for a longer range of motion and increased time under tension for the lats, which is great for building muscle.
A closer grip does allow for a longer range of motion and increased time under tension for the lats, which is great for building muscle.
In your workout: This exercise can make a good warm-up move for your shoulders, but when used as a mass-building exercise, it's best placed toward the end of your workout for sets of 8-12 reps.
Slow down the rep tempo on these, squeeze hard at the bottom of each rep, and allow a good stretch at the top.
8. Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
Why it's on the list: This is a great unilateral exercise—each side works independently—that allows you to move a lot of weight.
You'll get greater range of motion when training unilaterally, and you won't be restrained if your weaker side fails first. You may also be better able to support your lower back—which may have taken plenty of punishment by now—when placing one hand on a bench.
Allowing a slight degree of rotation of the trunk may engage a greater degree of “core” musculature, as well.
In your workout: Unless you intentionally flare your elbow out wide, this exercise focuses more on your lower lats. Do it anywhere from the middle to the end of your workout for sets of 10-12.
9. Decline Bench Dumbbell Pull-Over
Why it's on the list: Pull-overs for back? Absolutely! This one mimics the straight-arm cable pull-down you're probably familiar with.
Yes, this is a single-joint move, but it allows you to really target and torch your lats. The decline version puts your lats under tension for a longer range of motion than when using a flat bench.
Just make sure the dumbbell clears your head, and drop it on the floor behind you when you're done.
Decline-Bench Dumbbell Pull-Over
In your workout: In almost all cases, single-joint movements should be done last in your body-part routine. Keep the reps on the higher end for a nice finishing pump, around 12-15 per set.
10. Single-Arm Smith Machine Row
Why it's on the list: This bad boy is basically a single-arm dumbbell row performed on a Smith machine. It's a great and novel choice for your lower lats.
Stand sideways to the machine, grasping the bar toward the middle, and keep your body close to the apparatus using a split stance and bent knees for balance.
As you pull the bar up as high as you can, your body may sway a bit to keep the movement natural, which is OK.
In your workout: Do this exercise toward the end of your back routine for sets of 8-10 or 10-12. Do it in place of the single-arm dumbbell row—not both—since the exercises are similar.
- Escamilla, R. F., Francisco, A. C., Kayes, A. V., Speer, K. P., & Moorman, C. T. (2002). An electromyographic analysis of sumo and conventional style deadlifts. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34(4), 682-688.
- Fenwick, C. M. J., Brown, S. H. M., & McGill, S. M. (2009). Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load, and stiffness. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research/National Strength & Conditioning Association, 23(5), 1408-1417.
- Sperandei, S., Barros, M. A. P., Silveira-Júnior, P. C. S., & Oliveira, C. G. (2009). Electromyographic analysis of three different types of lat pull-down. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research/National Strength & Conditioning Association, 23(7), 2033–2038.
Back Exercises | 10 Of The Best For Building Muscle
Not that we’re betting men, but it’s safe to say that you’re ly to be neglecting your back a little. While you’re more ly to choosing a chest-and-arms workout as your go-to upper body routine, it’s unly that your back is getting the same treatment.
While it may be harder to see the benefits of training your back – compared to popping pecs or pumped-up arms – there are myriad benefits to training your rear. Because, put simply, you should be giving your back as much attention as your front.
The Benefits of Training Your Back
There are myriad reasons to train your traps, lats and beyond. We’ll let Ben West and Jordane Zammit Tabona, co-founders of London gym 360Athletic, talk you through them.
Back Workouts Will Fix Your Posture
If you spent most of your week – and, at that, your life – slumped over a desk and slapping a keyboard, your posture is ly to have taken a bit of a beating over the weeks, months and years you’ve been at work.
“This creates poor posture and muscle imbalance, which causes rounding of the shoulders and upper back,” says Zammit Tabona. Back workouts, handily, will help fix your posture and get rid of the desk-bound ‘hunch’.
Back Workouts Will Reduce Your Risk of Injury
For the average Joe, life generally looks long periods of being sedentary – the commute, a desk job, nights on the sofa watching telly – frequently interspersed with high intensity workouts that take you from zero to 100 and back again in a mere 45 minutes. And we wonder why we get injured. “Besides helping your posture, back workouts can help reduce pain and risk of injury, making you focus better and work more efficiently,” West adds.
Back Workouts Will Boost Your Bigger Lifts
Back workouts will also encourage weaker muscles to grow, helping boost strength in other lifts you may not expect. A stronger bench press, anyone? wise, your shoulder joints will be more stable and considerably stronger.
“Your back muscles and spine support your body, without them it would be very weak,” says Zammit Tabona. “Having a strong back will therefore help support your body and have you functioning better and more efficiently.
” Sounds a win-win-win to us.
Back Workouts Will Help Develop Your V-Shape Physique
Alongside a more pronounced chest and bigger arms, the want for a V-shape physique is one of the most regular occurrences in the Men’s Health inbox.
Handily, spending more time on your rear will help you earn that coveted v-shape upper-body.
“Having a balanced, well-rounded physique is what most of us aspire to have aesthetically, and training your back frequently will certainly help with this,” says West.
Back Workouts Will Reduce Lower-Back Pain
By strengthening your spine, shoulders and core, the back exercises below will strengthen your rear and begin to erase the strain of lower-back pain, which encroaches on the lives of thousands of men every day. Partnered with effective stretching routines and dynamic movements, these moves – performed with correct form – could help to make lower-back pain a thing of the past.
1. Kettlebell Swings
Why: KB swings aren’t just for CrossFit zealots. Far from it. Working your back’s posterior chain, kettlebell swings are also devilishly effective for building a stronger core, which will help take weight away from your lower back. Start with a lighter weight, get used to form and progress slowly.
How: Place a kettlebell a couple of feet in front of you. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and bend your knees to lean forward and grab the handle with both hands.
With your back flat, engage your lats to pull the weight between your legs (be careful with how deep you swing) then drive your hips forward and explosively pull the kettlebell up to shoulder height with your arms straight in front of you.
Return to the start position and repeat without pauses.
2. Barbell Deadlift
Why: The true king of compound movements, the barbell deadlift is a full-body move — building stronger legs, back, shoulders and arms.
Its place in your next back workout is well deserved — as you work through the full range of motion, your upper-back muscles (rhomboids, traps, rear delts and lats) are firing away helping to keep your torso straight, while preventing your back from rounding and causing injury.
How: Squat down and grasp a barbell with your hands roughly shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest up, pull your shoulders back and look straight ahead as you lift the bar. Focus on taking the weight back onto your heels and keep the bar as close as possible to your body at all times. Lift to thigh level, pause, then return under control to the start position.
3. Barbell Bent-Over Row
Why: As you’re working with a barbell, you should be able to shift more weight during a barbell bent-over row.
Helping your recruit more muscle — and, obviously, elicit further muscle growth — you’ll work your middle and lower traps, rhomboid major, rhomboid minor, upper traps, rear deltoids, and rotator cuff muscles.
Keep your shoulder blades back to avoid slouching, which puts undue stress on your lower back.
How: Grab a barbell with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. With your legs slightly bent, keep your back perfectly straight and bend your upper body forward until it’s almost perpendicular to the floor. From here row the weight upwards into the lower part of your chest. Pause. And return under control to the start position.
Why: If you want a V-shape physique — you do, that’s why you’re here — then there’s no avoiding pull-ups. Targeting your lats directly, you’ll gain a wider frame and will appear slimmer. Plus, you’ll get major gym kudos once your chin goes above that bar.
How: Grab the handles of the pull-up station with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended. Your hands should be around shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale and drive your elbows towards your hips to bring your chin above the bar. Lower under control back to the start position.
5. Dumbbell Single Arm Row
Why: Another great move for your lats, the dumbbell single arm row works both sides of your body and helps you focus (and fix) weaker spots by smashing through strength imbalances on either side. A handy tip: don't let your shoulder drop at the bottom of the movement. Lock your torso to ensure your back lifts the weight, not your arm.
How: Head to a flat bench and place your right hand against it under your shoulder, keeping your arm straight. Rest your right knee on the bench and step your other leg out to the side. With your free hand grab a dumbbell off the floor and row it up to your side until your upper arm is parallel with the floor. Lower slowly back to the floor and repeat.
6. Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row
Why: An ideal move for those struggling to keep the chest strong and spine straight during other back-building bent-over moves, the chest-supported dumbbell row isolates your back muscles — helping move the dumbbells considerably more efficiently and safely.
How: Lie face down on the bench with your feet other side to keep you stable. Hang the dumbbells beneath you using a neutral grip. Keep your head up and bring your shoulder blades together as you row the weights towards your chest. Lower to the starting position under control.
7. Inverted Row
Why: Suitable for those struggling with pull-ups and chin-ups, the inverted row is surprisingly difficult. Smoking your back and your arms, you can progress or regress the move by re-arranging where your feet.
How: Set up a bar in a rack at waist height. Grab it with a wider than shoulder-width overhand grip and hang underneath. Position yourself with heels out in front of you and arms fully extended. Your body should be straight from shoulders to ankles. Flex at the elbows to pull your chest up to the bar. Lower yourself back to the start position under control.
8. Lat Pull-Downs
Why: Just pull-ups, lat pull-downs — a firm bodybuilding favourite — will build your lats, while working at a slow tempo will maximise your muscle gain. Keep form strict and reap the rewards. A tip: always bring the bar in front of your head. The behind-the-neck version can damage your rotator cuff.
How: Kneel in front of the cable machine and face away. Grab the bar with your palms facing away from you, shoulder-width apart. Lean back slightly and push your chest out. Pull the bar down to your chest, then return slowly to the start position. Your torso should remain still throughout.
9. Single-Arm T-Bar Rows
Why: You’ve probably seen the standard T-bar row being performed (often incorrectly) at the gym, but the single-arm T-bar row ensures that, as you’re using a lighter load, form is stricter and muscle imbalances are being ironed out.
How: Add weight to one end of a barbell. Bend forward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor and keep your knees slightly bent. Grab the bar with one arm just behind the plates.
Pull the bar straight up with your elbow in until the plates touch your chest and squeeze your back muscles at the top of the move.
Slowly lower to the starting position and repeat without letting the plates touch the floor.
10. Farmers’ Walk
Why: Building a stronger back, bigger shoulders and insane grip strength, there’s very little the humbling farmers’ walk can’t do. Moreover, it blitzes belly fat and builds muscle far quicker than most functional moves.
How: Hold two kettlebells or dumbbells by your side. Keep your arms strong and walk short, quick steps as fast as possible. Turn around and walk back.
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Superset Back Workouts To Add Major Muscle Quickly
If there’s one part of the body that you absolutely should be making sure to target with your workouts, it’s your back.
While it’s tempting to focus on mirror muscles your chest, biceps and abs, building a strong back is key to progressing when lifting weights, as well as increasing your resilience when it comes to sports-related injuries or the back niggles that plague our nation of deskbound workers.
And even if your sole focus with your gym work is aesthetics, then you should know that building up your back is going to make you look absolute dynamite in a T-shirt.
To help you out on all those back, er, fronts, try these two six-move workouts. Each workout involves working through three supersets, and both target all the major muscle groups in the back.
Both are supremely tough, which you’ll quickly realise when you see the very first superset in workout 1 involves five sets of two different kinds of pull-ups.
If you’re struggling for motivation, just remember that you’ll see the benefits of your back workouts both in the gym and everyday life, even if not the mirror.
How to do the workout
This is a six-move session divided into three supersets. Complete a set of move 1A, rest for 30sec, then do a set of 1B, then rest for 60sec. Continue this pattern until all the sets are completed, then use the same method for the other two supersets, to keep working your back hard.
Warm up thoroughly, starting with some shoulder, elbow and wrist movements, then by doing some light lat pull-downs, interspersed with more mobility work in the rest periods between warm-up sets. Gradually increase the weight of each warm-up set while reducing the reps until you’re ready for the first proper work set.
Sets 5 Reps 5 Rest 30sec
Why It’s the classic bodyweight move for a wider back.
How Hang from a bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Brace your abs and glutes, engage your lats, then pull your chin up and over the bar. Pause at the top, then lower yourself back to the start under control.
1B Hammer-grip pull-up
Sets 5 Reps 5 Rest 60sec
Why Changing your hand position makes the move slightly easier so you can hit your back muscles harder.
How Hang with a hands-facing, shoulder-width grip. Brace your abs and glutes, engage your lats, then pull your chin up and over the bar. Pause at the top, then lower yourself back to the start under control.
These two moves work well together in a superset because they use the same kit and the same space, but the movement patterns are very different to work all the major muscles of your back.
For the first move, focus on a quality hold at the top position to engage more muscle fibres. For the second, use a light weight to minimise the involvement of any momentum and make the target muscles move.
Manage the weight through each and every rep.
2A Prone dumbbell row
Sets 4 Reps 8-10 Rest 30sec
Why It allows you to lift heavy – and hit your mid-back muscles – in safety.
How Lie chest-down on an incline bench, holding a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing. Keeping your chest against the bench, row the weights up, leading with your elbows. Pause briefly at the top, then lower the weights.
2B Prone dumbbell flye
Sets 4 Reps 12-15 Rest 60sec
Why It hits your upper back as well as the back of your shoulders.
How Lie chest-down on the bench holding light dumbbells. With a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights to shoulder height, then lower them back to the start.
This final superset will push your already tiring back muscles to the limit to break down as many muscle fibres as possible so they grow back bigger and stronger. It’s a tough end to a tough workout, but both moves also recruit the biceps, which will get in on the act to help your rapidly fatiguing back muscles get over the finish line.
3A Underhand lat pull-down
Sets 4 Reps 8-10 Rest 30sec
Why This brings your biceps into play to help out your tiring lats.
How Sit supported on the machine, holding a straight bar with an underhand shoulder-width grip. Keeping your chest up, pull the bar down to below chin height. Pause, then return to the start.
3B Seated row
Sets 4 Reps 12-15 Rest 60sec
Why It works your upper back and your biceps again help out.
How Sit at the machine holding the handle with a palms-facing grip. Keeping your chest up and your core braced, pull the handle in towards your bellybutton, leading with your elbows. Pause briefly then return to the start position.
1A Bent-over row
Sets 4 Reps 8 Rest 30sec
Why The classic lift for a big back.
How Hold the bar with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Hinge forwards from the hips, then row the bar towards you, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top for a one-count, then lower the bar.
1B Upright row
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60sec
Why It hits your traps to create a wider frame.
How Stand tall with your chest up and abs and core braced, holding a barbell with a shoulder-width overhand grip. Row the bar up towards your chin, leading with your elbows. Pause at the top for a one-count, then slowly lower the bar back to the start.
2A Wide-grip lat pull-down
Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 30sec
Why A wide grip works your lats more.
How Sit on the machine and take a wide overhand grip on the bar. Keeping your chest up, pull the bar down to chin level. Hold that position for a one-count, then slowly return the bar to the start, keeping tension on your lats throughout.
2B Seated cable row
Sets 4 Reps 10 Rest 60sec
Why It works the muscles of the middle of your upper back.
How Grip the handle with both hands. Sit back and with your chest up, pull that handle towards your bellybutton. Pause, then return to the start position.
3A Prone dumbbell row
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 30sec
Why It works each side of your back independently.
How Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a dumbbell in each hand. Row the weights up, leading with your elbows. Hold for a one-count at the top, then lower them slowly.
3B Prone dumbbell flye
Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 60sec
Why It’s one of the best moves for hitting the rear delts.
How Lie chest-down on an incline bench holding a light dumbbell in each hand. Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, raise the weights out to the sides until they reach shoulder height. Pause for a one-count, then lower them under control.
Tri-sets Back Workout
This challenging workout is designed to beef up your back, shoulders and pecs to create the V-shaped torso that’s one of the main goals of physique training. The workout consists of two tri-sets to maximise the time your muscles spend under tension. Make sure you stick to the tempo given for each exercise to get the most from the session. See the workout
Upper And Lower Back Workout
The upper back is often neglected because people focus on the so-called mirror muscles on the front of their body, and the lower back tends to be targeted even less frequently.
Needless to say, you need to work on both areas if you want to build an all-round strong and healthy body. In this article you’ll find two upper- and two lower-back workouts to add to your routine.
See the workouts
Pull Workout For A Stronger Back
Push yourself with this workout built around various pulling moves designed to strengthen your back muscles. After rattling through four sets of pull-ups and pull-downs, you’ll move on to two supersets to increase the challenge to your back muscles. See the workout
AMRAP Back Workout
After a quick warm-up this workout moves on to two circuits, each of which you’ll do three times.
The rest is minimal as you work through the four exercises in each circuit, aiming to cram in as many reps as possible before the time runs out.
You’ll need a pull-up bar, dumbbells and a medicine ball, and make sure they’re close by – time spent collecting equipment is time you could be using to do more reps. See the workout
Best back exercises: the best lats workouts to reduce back pain, gain muscle and get a V shape
Considering how big your back muscles are and how much they improve your looks and fix posture, there isn't much of a conversation about them anywhere. Everyone is obsessed with how to get a six pack, how to get bigger pecs and what are the best bicep exercises.
As much as these are important topics and not to be forgotten about, there are plenty of other muscles on your body that need attention. It's not training the back is as obscure of a topic as how to get bigger calves or what is the best way to get bigger shoulders.
Probably the reason why no one really talks about back muscles is that – well – they are on your back so you can't see them when you look into the mirror. This is only partially true, and also, if you trained your back properly, you will see more benefits than just your torso taking up a shape of a V.
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The best back workout can give you a more more muscular back, strengthening the rhomboids, trapezius, and the rest of these more obscure but vital muscles. A stronger back can help you improve your posture as well as ease lower back pain – although if you have lower back pain issues, please consult your GP before you start lifting fully-loaded barbells, and start light.
There aren't many more satisfying things in the world when you do three sets of eight reps of deadlifts with one and a half times your bodyweight. When you drop (I mean, gently lower) the bar down on the rubberised floor at the end, overrun with adrenaline and serotonin, you just want to lay down and enjoy the sense of achievement.
Doing deadlifts are just one of the top 5 excises we recommend for you today to achieve a more toned back, one that won't bother you all day long with petty pains and will also support your spine.
Deadlifts activate almost all your muscles in your body
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We can't praise deadlifts enough. There are literally people out there in the gyms doing just this one exercise, called powerlifters. It should be on the top of your priority list of exercises to master.
Deadlifts activate almost all your muscles in your body, from your calves all the way up to your traps. It works the biggest muscles the most, your thighs, glutes and lats, as well as your arms are activated almost all the way through the positive and negative motion.
Form is very important performing deadlifts. You want to bend the hips the least amount while lifting. Keep your back is straight all the way through the motion.
Starting position is barbell on the floor, legs bent and shoulder-width, arms in alternate grip position (one hand under and one over), shoulders open. First, push with your legs and glutes, then when your legs are straight, lift your shoulders and stand up all the way.
The negative movement mirrors the positive, but the other way around. Make sure you concentrate on muscle activation all the way through.
If you are unsure about the form, get some help, either go to a local gym, or ask a personal trainer.
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2. Lat pulldown
Wide grip lat pulldowns are the most popular
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Either performed using wide or narrow grip, lat pulldowns are an excellent way to work your lats. You will need a cable machine to do these, either at the gym or if you have the currency, you can also invest in a home gym too.
Set the weight, grab the handle and sit down on the bench, tucking your knees under the support pads. Bend slightly backwards so you are looking at the ceiling in an angle. Pull the bar towards your chest, not behind your neck.
You will see people advising alternating between the two methods but pulling the bar behind your neck will only result you spraining your shoulders.
Lat pulldowns work best if you do the whole motion slowly. Approaching weight training from a 'slow and steady wins the race' point of view is probably the best idea. You might be working your muscles with smaller weights, but you activate them for much longer than if you'd just jerk the bar up and down. Performing exercises slowly makes the training more effective.
3. Pull ups
Not easy to master, but works your lats beautifully
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Bodyweight pull ups are the next step up from lat pulldowns. One of the exercises you won't be able to perform for a while, it's still a good idea to try and practice them as much as possible.
If you are frequenting the gym, you can use a pull up assist machine first. Same thing as doing a regular pull up, but you do it kneeling on a weighted pad.
If you really want concentrate on your lats, use a wide overhand grip. Chin ups use your arms muscles more (they are excellent nevertheless). Pull ups are a great way to achieve a 'V-shape' soon.
If you are exercising at home, get one a pull up bar and start doing pull ups your legs resting on a chair. Please, please, make sure the bar is fitted properly and that it can support your bodyweight before you start hanging off it.
4. Bent over barbell row/one-arm dumbbell row
Pull the weight towards your belly
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Bent over rows have been mentioned on our full body workout list, too, because they are one of the essential exercises you can perform in the gym and at home too. All you need is a barbell or a dumbbell (or dumbbells).
Bent over barbell row is performed stood up, knees bent slowly, holding the barbell with an underhand grip. Pull the barbell towards your belly (and not chest) in a rowing motion.
An alternative version is the one-armed dumbbell row. Rest one of your legs and one arm on the bench, holding the dumbbell with a hammer grip in the other, free-hanging hand. Pull the dumbbell towards your belly (again, not chest!) and then lower it back down. Once the set is done, do the same with the other arm.
Concentrate on muscle activation as you perform the row.
5. Kettlebell swing
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Kettlebells are the perfect equipment for cardio fuelled session in the gym (or home). Originated from Russia, kettlebells became a gym staple in the last 10-15 years and are used for a variety of exercises, the farmers' walk or the kettlebell swing.
Kettlebell swing is performed with holding the kettlebell between your legs with both hands, legs in wide stance, slightly bent. Swing the kettlebell up so your arms point forward, then let them fall between your legs, then back up again.
It's easy to underestimate the kinetic force of the bells and just let them swing back too much. Pay attention and activate your muscles all the way through the motion.
The kettlebell swing works your lower back quite significantly so make sure you do your warm ups before you jump in doing full-blown sets. Kettlebells can be bought in a variety of sizes and they are also available in gyms so pick a smaller one and do your warm up rounds first, please.
The rep range is higher with this exercise, you can do 15-20 reps in each set (aim at 3-4 sets).
Don't forget your protein
In order to gain lean muscle mass, you will need to pay attention to what you eat. The saying 'you are what you eat' is in fact very true, your body can only use the food you ingest to build muscles. If you keep feeding it burgers and pizza, don't expect fast results (or much results at all).
You won't need a wide variety of supplements either to help your body grow. Apart from keeping yourself to a healthy diet, eating mainly 'good carbs' such as quinoa, buckwheat or oats and 'good fats' those found in avocados, fish and nuts, you will only need protein powder and creatine monohydrate.
The former contains a high percentage of the essential amino acids required for muscle repair and therefore muscle gain, whilst the latter helps improving your performance.
Always warm up!
Your back muscles are HUGE, the lats, for example, are the biggest muscles in your upper body. They will need some warming up before you can use them to their full potential. There is no need rushing into an injury because you couldn't be bothered to do 5 minutes of warm up.
Do some cardio and basic stretches, followed by a set or two with smaller weights to properly warm your muscles up. You have been warned.
Important: if you are new to weight lifting, start with a smaller weights you can easily manage and work your way up slowly over a period of days, weeks and/or months.
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