woman gripping dumbbell with uppper lifting straps

10 Of The Best Back Exercises For Maximal Results

by Evelyn Valdez

A strong back is ideal for many reasons. Having strong back muscles can improve your posture, reduce back pain, and it can even help make your waist appear smaller - not so much a health benefit, but it's one many love! Whatever your reasons are for wanting to build back muscles, we're here to help!

You should know already barbell rows and pull-ups are the best exercises to build back muscles, but you can't only rely on those three! Hit all the major muscles in your back by implementing these back exercises into your routine...

Barbell Deadlift

Deadlifts aren't only a lower body exercise! They work your entire back, including your glutes, hamstrings, and core.

Make sure to wear an UPPPER Belt and Lifting Straps on your heaviest sets to help support your lower back and grip – and help you pull through more reps.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Bend at the hips and knees to grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip.
  2. Grip the barbell with hands shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and chest up.
  3. Lift the bar by straightening your hips and knees. Keep the bar close to your body, maintaining a straight back.
  4. Reverse the movement by pushing your hips back. Lower the bar down the same path, keeping it close to your body.
  5. Once the bar is past your knees begin to bend them to lower the bar completely down to the ground. This is only if you're resetting before your next rep, if you're not, then just lower the bar as close to the floor as possible.

Back Extensions

Back extensions are a great exercise to target your lower back, but it also targets your glutes and hamstrings.

How to do it:

  1. Position yourself face down on a back extension bench.
  2. Hook your feet under the footpads.
  3. Cross your arms over your chest or place hands behind your head.
  4. Lower your upper body down slowly.
  5. Raise your upper body back up until it's in line with your legs.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Seated Cable Row

Free-weight rowing exercises should be your bread and butter, but don't neglect cable machines, they have one advantage over weights... They help provide tension throughout the entire movement. This pulling exercise targets the lats, but also the biceps and triceps! The best thing about it is that there is a wide range of handles at the gym that will allow you to try different grips and hand positions!

How to do it:

  1. To get into the starting position, first, sit down on the machine and place your feet on the front platform or crossbar provided. Make sure that your knees are slightly bent and not locked. 
  2. Lean over as you keep the natural alignment of your back and grab the V-bar handles. With your arms extended, pull back until your torso is at a 90-degree angle from your legs. Your back should be slightly arched, and your chest should be sticking out. You should be feeling a nice stretch on your lats as you hold the bar in front of you. 
  3. Keeping the torso stationary, pull the handles back towards your torso while keeping the arms close to it until you touch the abdominals. Breathe out as you perform that movement. Hold for a moment and squeeze your back muscles hard. 
  4. Hold that contraction for a second, and slowly return to the start position while breathing in.

Face Pulls

This is another great cable machine exercise that works your upper back, rear delts, and traps. So, not only does it help build your upper back, but it also helps improve shoulder strength.

How to do it:
  1. Attach a rope handle to a cable machine at chest height.
  2. Stand facing the machine and grab the rope with both hands.
  3. Step back to create tension in the cable.
  4. Pull the rope towards your face, keeping elbows high.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position.

T-Bar Row

This is a variation of the widely loved bent-over row, but with one advantage... You can add even more weight! It targets the lats, teres major, trapezius, erector spinae, shoulders, and biceps.

How to do it:

  1. Use a T-Bar row platform at the gym (or attach a barbell to a squat rack) and stand with one foot on either side of the bar.
  2. Bend your knees slightly as you hinge forward from your hips, just like you're about to do a bent-over row.
  3. Grab the handles with both hands and with your arms straight, lift the weight up until your torso is between 45 degrees and parallel to the floor. 
  4. Inhale as you begin to pull the handle into your chest leading with your elbows. Don't let your lower back round. Contract your back at the top of the movement.
  5. Exhale as you fully extend your arms back to the starting position.

    Lat Pull-Downs

    If you can't do a pull-up yet, try mastering lat pulldowns first! This exercise requires a bar or handle to be attached to a cable pulley which will help provide a constant tension for your lats to work against. This is a great exercise known to build up the lats, but it also engages the posterior deltoids, rhomboids, and trapezius located in the upper back. We'll be going through the directions using a wide grip bar, but feel free to use handles for a more narrow grip.

    How to do it:

    1. Place your knees under the provided pads. Position the pads so that your thighs are not able to raise up off the bench.
    2. Grasp the lat bar wider than shoulder-width grip. This is the starting position. 
    3. Begin the exercise by pulling the bar down to your upper chest. Focus on using your lats to pull the bar down and not your arms. Squeeze your upper back muscles hard.
    4. Slowly reverse the movement back to starting position.

    Chest Supported Rows

    We love this exercise because its lower-back friendly! Bent-over rows and t-bar rows can be too hard on the lower back, so if you're having trouble with those, start by doing chest-supported rows! You'll be able to go really heavy without worrying about straining something! It targets your lats, traps, rhomboids, and biceps.

    How to do it:

    1. Place your dumbbells on each side of a bench. Lie chest down on an incline bench, and grasp the dumbbells below. 
    2. Pull dumbbells to sides until the upper arm is just beyond the horizontal or height of the back. Squeeze your back muscles for a moment.
    3. Return until arms are extended, and shoulders are stretched downward.

    Dumbbell Pull-Over

    This exercise is a double whammy! It zones in on your lats, but it also engages your pecs, aka your chest muscles. We suggest using an incline bench, opposed to a flat bench, to keep your lats under tension for a longer range of motion. 

    How to do it:

    1. Lie on your back on an incline bench, your head should be towards the floor. Flex hips slightly. 
    2. Grasp one dumbbell from behind or from the side with both hands under the inner plate of the dumbbell. Position dumbbell over the chest with elbows slightly bent. 
    3. Keeping elbows bent slightly throughout the movement, lower the dumbbell over and past your head until upper arms are in line with the torso. Move slow and controlled to feel the lats do the work.
    4. Exhale and pull the dumbbell up and over the chest.

    Single-Arm Cable Pulldowns

    Feeling like one side of your upper back is doing more work than the other? Try single-arm cable pulldowns! It will help target the lat muscles, your upper back, and shoulders. Start your set with your weaker arm so you do the same amount of reps on each side without gaining any more strength or muscle on the stronger side.

    How to do it:

    1. Place the pulley in a high position above your head and grab the handle with your right hand. Kneel on the floor with your arm stretched out in the alignment of the cable. 
    2. Begin with your palm facing forward, engage your lat as you pull your elbow into the right side of your body. 
    3. Once you have reached full contraction of your back, return your arm back into the starting position.

    Single-Arm Dumbbell Row

    This is a classic unilateral exercise that allows you to move a lot of weight. Rows are great exercises, but training each side independently allows for a greater range of motion and support since you place one hand on a bench. This compound movement targets your upper back, lower back, biceps, shoulders, hips, and helps improve core stability. 

    How to do it:

    1. Kneel over side of bench by placing knee and hand of supporting arm on bench. Position foot of opposite leg slightly back to the side. Grasp the dumbbell from the floor. 
    2. Pull the dumbbell up to the side until it makes contact with ribs or until the upper arm is just beyond horizontal. Hold for a moment.
    3. Return until the arm is extended, and the shoulder is stretched downward. Repeat and continue with the opposite arm.

    Now you have best back exercises to try on your next back day! Pair this with our best tips for back day and you will be on the right path to stronger back muscles!

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published