Looking for a set of back exercises to really build you up? Want one of those incredible backs you see on movie stars, but not entirely sure how to go about it, or maybe just need a bit more stability for your sport or workout of choice? We have five great exercises for you to consider, as you work to build up this oh-so-overlooked, oh-so-important muscle group:
A simple exercise, with incredible results—unless you’re already at an advanced stage of fitness, pull-ups are probably going to be the best investment of time and effort you can find, in terms of developing your back. There’s a reason that beginner free weight regimens often include them, despite them being a body weight exercise; there’s just no much that can compete in terms of efficiency. Depending on the grip you use, you can work a very wide variety of muscles, so experiment and figure out a way to get the fullest workout possible (or fill in gaps left by other back exercises on this list).
There aren’t a lot of machines that are taken seriously in the gym by advanced fitness gurus, but the lat pulldown machine will always have a place as a method for working your back. Make sure you do the motions slow and correctly—the bar goes to your chest, not behind your head. Your lats will feel the burn in no time if you do these right.
Bent-over barbell row
A great way to get your middle and lower back worked hard, along with some benefits to your shoulders and arms. Make sure you’re doing these right, as a poorly executed bent-over barbell row can put an awful lot of pressure on your back; maintain that arch, and don’t forget about it as you get comfortable with the movement. Complacency leads to as many injuries as ignorance, all told.
The deadlift works everything, and that of course includes your back. Like the barbell row, or the squats at the end of this list, maintaining proper form and a healthy back arch during the movement is crucial for both effectiveness and safety. You might want to save the deadlift for the end of your training regimen, as it tends to drain whatever’s left in your tank—it’s an intense exercise, despite its simplicity.
Like the pull-up, the squat has a lot of variations you can take advantage of to change the way it works your back. By default, you’ll want to use front squats for back building—it offers the fullest engagement of back muscles, as your back strains to keep your torso upright and keep you from tipping forward. Just make sure you maintain your form; if you can’t do so consistently, take it down a notch. It’s not a race.