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Best Back Exercises: Get Perfect V-Physique

By Born Tough on

All too often bodybuilders are seen only working on the muscles that they can see in the mirror and feel the pump. The beginner athletes are especially seen spending the most time training their arms and chest.

We see that most people are less likely to train their back because it’s harder to admire in the mirror afterward. But remember that training your back is crucial for getting that coveted V-shape physique.

Strong back muscles are not beneficial for achieving an aesthetic physique, a sturdy back is needed for smoothly performing your routine activities.

Well, now it’s time that you strictly stick to regular back training and for this, we bring you the best back exercises that you can try for your next back workout.

Click here to learn more about the full-body workouts.

Understanding The Back Anatomy

Before diving into the back exercises, we need to understand the complete blueprint of our back so we can plan various exercises to hit all muscles effectively.

Our back doesn’t consist of a single muscle group. It has various small and big muscles that work together for developing the perfect shape of your back.

After seeing professional bodybuilders on stage spreading their lats, most people think that lats are the only major portion of the back.

Trapezium (Traps)

Trapezium, commonly known as traps are the triangular-shaped muscles starting behind your neck and extending to your mid-back region.

They play a big role in any bodybuilder’s physique. They are visible from front and back poses; it marks the importance of well-developed traps.

The major function of traps is to stabilize the movement of the scapula. Upper traps work in the elevation and rotation of the scapula.

Other functions of traps include twisting your torso, shrugging the shoulders, and standing straight with a proper form.

Learn More: 10 Best Leg Exercises to Kill Your Leg Day

Exercises To Hit Your Traps

  • Rear delt cable pull
  • Dumbbell shrugs
  • Upright rows
  • Behind the back barbell shrugs

Latissimus Dorsi

Lats are the muscles responsible for widening your back. In addition, these muscles play a big role in upper body movements that involve lifting weights.

Their importance is marked by the fact that they are linked with your ribs, spine, arms, and scapula. As a result, these muscles play a key role in rotating your arms and pulling things towards you.

What are some good workouts for lats?

  • Bent-over barbell rows
  • Single-arm dumbbell rows
  • Underhand pulldowns
  • Landmine row
  • Dumbbell pullover

Rhomboids

These muscles are located on your upper back beneath the traps. Rhomboids have a key role in maintaining your posture.

They work for providing stability to your shoulders and are also used for pulling the shoulder blades together.

Well-built rhomboids provide thickness to your upper back, they also reduce the risk of injury and back pain.

Rhomboid Muscle Exercises

  • Lying lateral raises
  • Lying front raises
  • Rear delt flyes
  • Face pull

Why Strong Back Is Essential for Getting Big?

A strong and muscular back is the key to getting stronger and fitter. Back muscles are responsible for giving you a wider physique that immediately identifies you as a bodybuilder even if you are wearing a coat.

Other muscles such as the chest, shoulders, and arms are also important for giving you that bodybuilder look but, the back holds major importance here.

Back muscles act as a base that adds stability to other upper body exercises such as the arm, chest, and core. Having a muscular back is important if you wish to add depth to your physique.

Adding some muscle mass to your back helps to make your waist look much smaller.

Here are some of the reasons that why you should never skip a back workout:

Speeds Your Metabolism

Just as your chest, back are a major muscle group. We know that training bigger muscles simultaneously helps in burning an increased number of calories.

Our back is a part of the posterior chain that primarily consists of large muscle groups. Through training your back, you will be increasing your metabolism rate efficiently.

A faster metabolism means that your body will be burning more calories than the usual exercises. 

Compliment The Growth of Your Arms

While performing back exercises, you utilize the force from your biceps. One of the main functions of the biceps is to assist in pulling things close to you.

Here’s the thing about training your back; almost all the exercises such as pull ups, barbell rows, lat pulldowns consist of pulling weights towards you. It eventually helps your biceps to grow.

Get Rid of Back Pain

Due to our sedentary lifestyle, back pain is a common problem these days. It occurs mostly due to the loss of flexibility in the spine and weakened back muscles.

Back exercises help in strengthening your back that eventually works to relieve back pain and improve your flexibility.

If you are suffering from any chronic back pain then, of course, you should consult a physician. But if you are dealing with the loss of flexibility and experience after sitting or standing for prolonged periods then you must train your back.

How do I get rid of upper back pain?

Some common exercises you can try to get rid of pain are as follows, make sure to check out our yoga section to try some poses for permanently relieving back pain.

  • Knee-to-chest stretches
  • Lying rotational stretch
  • Lying lateral leg lifts
  • Superman pose

Should I squat when I have lower back pain?

Squats is a full-body strengthening exercise. It can also help people to recover from spinal injuries.

If you are suffering from lower back pain then you can perform squats but, if the pain is severe or you suffered from an injury then make sure to consult your doctor before squatting.

Learn More: Effective Recovery Tips After Workout.

 

How do I prevent a low back pain from lifting weights?

Here are some tips that can help you prevent lower back pain while lifting;

  • Properly warming up your body before starting a back workout.
  • Use a lifting belt during back exercises.
  • Engage your core to help in supporting your spine.
  • Don’t make any jerky movements while lifting weights.

Training Tips for Effective Back Workout

Keep these training tips in mind when performing back exercises, it will help in maximizing your muscle growth and achieving hypertrophy.

Squeeze At the End

This is one of the most important things to do in every back exercise. Most people are unable to build their back muscles because they go too fast and don’t squeeze their muscles at the top position.

For instance, if you are doing cable rows, when you pull the grip fully towards your mid-section, hold this position and contract your blades together as hard as you can.

Pre-Exhaust Your Muscles

Before performing compound exercises, you should focus on doing some isolating exercises to effectively exhaust your back muscles.

Through this, you will have a better feel when lifting heavier weights in compound movements and experience an explosive pump at the end of your back workout.

Go Light for Some Back Exercises

As a bodybuilder, we are sure that you have an ego. You should remember that most of the time ego-lifting can kill the effectiveness of your workout.

While performing back exercises, you should use the weights that you can lift without swinging your body and with a proper form.

When using heavyweights, it’s difficult to squeeze your muscles at the end. This results in a loss of efficiency of back exercises.

Choose your weights intelligently, you should be lifting those weights that allow you to complete the required rep range without using compensating movements.

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Can you get a good workout from doing light deadlifts?

The deadlift is a compound movement, it trains your legs, back, and core muscles. You can do deadlifts with medium weights to benefit from it. However, light weights won’t be as effective as using medium weights.

Use Lifting Straps and Belt

If you can’t feel your back working during a heavyweight exercise then it’s because your forearms and biceps are working more and getting fatigued earlier than your back muscles.

To deal with this issue, you should use lifting straps while performing back exercises. Although, they can stop forearm stimulation but will help in engaging your back muscles more effectively/

A weightlifting belt is a necessity for every beginner bodybuilder. It helps in reducing stress on the lower back area and helps a person to stay in proper form throughout any back exercise.

Using a lifting belt also engages your core muscles more effectively and helps in sculpting those coveted abs.

Do lifting straps work for pullups/lat pull down?

If you are a beginner then you should always use lifting straps for pull ups and lat pulldowns. Using straps ensures that your grip strength is not a limiting factor so you can train your back muscles with full focus.

Best Back Exercises for an Incredible Back Workout

As we have discussed the back anatomy and training tips you should incorporate for back exercises, let’s head onto some of the best back exercises recommended by professionals.

1.     Bent-Over Barbell Rows: Compound Back Exercise

This is a compound exercise for sculpting your back muscles. It helps to improve the upper and lower back strength and supports the functioning of your spine.

The bent-over barbell rows engage your upper back, lower back, lats, and traps at the same time. It also works on supporting muscle groups such as hamstrings and core.

How To Do It

  • Stand in front of a barbell with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Grab the barbell according to the positioning of your feet.
  • Stick your butt out and bend your back.
  • Slightly bend your knees to maintain a neutral spine position.
  • Pull the barbell towards your belly.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades at the top position.
  • Lower the barbell but don’t touch the ground.
  • Repeat this movement.

Recommended Sets: 4-5

Recommended Reps: 12RM- 10RM- 8RM- 6RM (Increase weight on each set)

When I do bend over barbell rows, why do I feel it more in my rear?

The barbell rows also work on your lower back, that's the reason you feel a stretch in your rear while performing bent-over barbell rows.

Can you build your back just doing barbell rows?

Barbell rows is an effective back exercise that impacts all the muscle groups in your back.

They can have significant benefits for developing your back but for maximizing the growth you need to add other exercises to your back workout routine.

How wide should my grip be for bent-over barbell rows?

It is recommended to hold the barbell just outside the width of your knees if you are performing barbell rows with an overhand grip.

2.     T-Bar Row

This back exercise may look just like another variation of the bent-over barbell rows. It works for impacting the middle back muscles which include rhomboids, teres, and traps.

It’s a beneficial exercise for building the thickness of your back and developing a ripped shape of your back.

Read More: 10 Reasons You Are Not Gaining Muscle

How To Do It

  • Set an empty barbell rod in the corner of a wall.
  • Place a heavy dumbbell at the end of the barbell to hold it down.
  • Load the other end with weights.
  • Hook a V-grip under the bar.
  • Stick out your butt and bend your back keeping a neutral spine.
  • Hold the V-grip and pull the rod towards you.
  • Lower the barbell but don’t let it touch the ground.

Recommended Sets: 4-5

Recommended Reps: 12RM- 10RM- 8RM- 6RM (Increase weight on each set)

3.     Seated Row Exercise

The seated rows have the same impact as bent-over barbell rows. However, this back exercise maintains a constant tension throughout the movement.

The seated rows are a great way to intensify your workout as you will be in a comfortable position as compared to bent-over rows.

How To Do It

  • Sit on the platform with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Place your feet on the pad.
  • Extend your legs, keep a slight bend in your knees.
  • Keep your head back, the spine should be neutrally aligned, and keep your chest elevated.
  • Pull the cable towards yourself, bring the handle close to your naval area.
  • Squeeze your lats and shoulder blades at the top position.

Recommended Sets: 4-5

Recommended Reps: 12RM- 10RM- 8RM- 8RM (Increase weight on each set)

Are seated cable rows enough to build the lower lat?

The seated rows are helpful for building the middle lats and rhomboids. If you are looking for a back exercise to target those lower lats then you should be doing deadlifts.

Does seated cable rows have similar effects to deadlifts?

The seated cable rows don’t have a similar effect to deadlifts. These are two completely different exercises that hit your back differently.

4.     Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows

The single-arm dumbbell rows are one of the most beneficial exercises for building your lats. In addition, it has many benefits for other muscle groups as well.

The dumbbell rows can build core strength, improve your grip and also help in developing your biceps when executed with correct form.

This is a unilateral back exercise, which means that each side works independently so you can lift more weight. Through unilaterally training your back, you get a more range of motion.

  • Place your left hand on an elevated surface such as the dumbbell rack.
  • Take one step back, and bend your front knee as you do in a lunge position.
  • Lift your chest and maintain a neutral spine.
  • Hold a dumbbell in your right hand and pull it back through contracting your lats.
  • Hit the appropriate number of reps and repeat with the other side.

Recommended Sets: 4-5

Recommended Reps: 12RM- 10RM- 8RM-8RM for each side (Increase weight on each set)

5.     Deadlift

This exercise holds prime importance in your back workout. The deadlift is the only exercise that hits the entire posterior chain.

The deadlift can engage all the muscles between your upper traps and calves. Powerlifters are seen performing this exercise but it's not only beneficial for them.

Any intermediate bodybuilder can enjoy great benefits from a deadlift. It’s one of the supreme compound exercises so it’s responsible for releasing a large amount of muscle-building hormones.

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How To Do It

  • Stand in front of a barbell with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Bend your back, slightly bend your knees and grab the barbell with a shoulder-grip width.
  • Lift the barbell, extending your back and legs.
  • Squeeze your back muscles at the top position.
  • Lower your back, bend your knees and return to starting position.

Recommended Sets: 3

Recommended Reps: 10RM- 8RM- 6RM (Increase weight on each set)

Are deadlifts the best back exercise?

The deadlift is the greatest compound movement that majorly targets all the muscles in your posterior chain. No doubt, it’s one of the best back exercises.

Can you develop a very muscular back without deadlifting?

You can develop a muscular back without deadlifting and performing other effective back exercises such as rowing, pull-downs, etc.

But we can’t undermine the importance of deadlifts in the back workout as the best compound movement for engaging all posterior chain muscles.

6.     Pull-up Exercise for Back

The pull-ups are a bodyweight back exercise that helps in the overall development of your back.

They work for strengthening your back muscles, pull-ups are primarily beneficial for the upper back muscles but it also engages the middle lats and rhomboids.

Pull-ups have significant benefits for improving your grip strength and sculpting your core muscles.

How To Do It

  • Jump and hold the pullup bar with an overhand grip.
  • Your hands should be a little wider than your shoulder width.
  • Pull your body up using the force of your arms and back.
  • Pause for a second at the top position and then lower your body.

Recommended Sets: 3

Recommended Reps: 12RM- 12RM- 12RM

Are doing pull ups daily enough to build lower lats?

Pull-ups primarily work for building your upper lats, if you want to train the lower lats then incorporate some exercises such as deadlifts or bent-over rows.

How do I activate back energy required for pull ups?

To activate your back energy during a back exercise like pull-up, make sure to maintain a mind-muscle connection, pause and squeeze your back at the top position.

I can't do even 1 pull up. How do I start?

Here are some tips to help you in doing a pull-up:

  • Do pull-ups on a pull-up bar machine
  • Loop a resistance band across the pull-up bar and attempt pull-up by getting your knees and feet into the band.
  • Work on strengthening your arms and back muscles.
  • Improve your grip strength by hanging onto the pull-up bar for some time.

7.     Front Lat Pull-Down Back Exercise

As the name suggests, the lat pull-down works on the latissimus dorsi muscle in your back. These are the broadest muscles that help in giving you a wider upper body.

There are many forms of doing a lat pull-down, the best one is doing it with a wide grip as it engages your lats most effectively.

To get the most out of this back exercise, make sure that you stick to a slow tempo and squeeze hard at the bottom of each repetition.

How To Do It

  • Grab the bar with a wide and overhand grip.
  • Pull the bar down until it’s near the level of your chin.
  • Shift your body slightly backward while pulling down the bar.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades at the bottom position.
  • Slowly return the bar to starting position but don’t let the plates crash together.
  • Move your body forward as you return the bar to the starting position.
  • Repeat this movement.

Recommended Sets: 4-5

Recommended Reps: 12RM- 10RM- 8RM-8RM (Increase weight on each set)

When I do lat pull downs, I feel it in my triceps and not my lats?

If you are unable to maintain a significant mind-muscle connection then the supporting muscles are impacted more than the muscle you want to work on.

Maintain a slow tempo during lat pull down and focus on closing your shoulder blades as you bring the bar down. It will help you to feel the stretch in your lats.

8.     Straight Arm Pulldown

If you can’t feel your lats working during the traditional lat pull down then don’t worry. Straight arm Pulldown is here for the rescue.

While performing this back exercise, your biceps and mid-back remain straight which prevents them from incorporating any compensating movements.

How To Do It

  • Attach a rod in the high pulley position of a cable station.
  • Grab each end of the rod in both hands.
  • Slightly bend your knees and arch your back maintaining a neutral spine.
  • Drive your arms down to your sides in an arcing motion, keep your elbows locked while bringing the rod down.
  • Slowly return the rod to its starting position but don’t let the cables collapse.

Recommended Sets: 4-5

Recommended Reps: 12RM- 10RM- 8RM-8RM (Increase weight on each set)

9.     Pull-Over Back Exercise

The dumbbell pullover is commonly performed for training the chest but this single-joint move is great for torching your lats as well which makes it a beneficial back exercise.

How To Do It

  • Lie down on a flat bench with one dumbbell in both hands.
  • Grab the plate of the dumbbell by crossing the palms of both hands together.
  • Pull back the dumbbell and lower it till you feel a stretch in your chest and lats.
  • Pull it back and extend the dumbbell towards your chest.
  • Repeat this movement.

Recommended Sets: 3

Recommended Reps: 12RM- 10RM- 8RM (Increase weight on each set)

10. Back Extension Exercises

If you want to effectively target your lower back without doing deadlifts then the back extension exercise is here for you.

Performing this back exercise helps to improve your ability to develop flexibility and strength in your lower back.

How To Do It

  • Position your body on the back extension machine and lock your feet on the platform.
  • Cross your arms in front of your chest.
  • Bend your upper torso downwards until you can see your feet.
  • Now, pull yourself back, engage your core, and glute throughout the movement.

Recommended Sets: 3

Recommended Reps: 10RM- 10RM- 10RM

What are some alternative exercises for back extensions?

Some alternate exercises for back extensions are as follow:

  • Good mornings
  • Reverse hyperextensions
  • Cable pull-through
  • Superman’s

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