Back training is a lot like leg training -- it’s neglected by most gym-goers, or not given the true importance that it deserves.
Most likely this is due to the fact that training the complex musculature of the back is a lot like training the lower body -- hard work!
But, with diligent practice and concerted effort you too can build a stronger, sexier, and more toned back.
We’ve got 5 of the best exercises to help you build a better back.
Top 5 Exercises to Build a Strong Back
There’s no better exercise for developing all the muscles of the posterior chain (your backside) than the deadlift. It hits just about everything from head to toe, recruiting muscles from your calves to your traps.
Moreover, you don’t have to be a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or Olympic lifter to benefit from the deadlift. What’s more primal than bending down and picking something heavy up from the ground.
We perform this action everyday whether it be lifting up a child or picking up a heavy box and storing it on a shelf.
Similar to the squat, the deadlift is an exercise not only essential to building a better body but also a more resilient one as we age.
Proper technique is critical when performing deadlifts. If you don’t feel comfortable attempting to learn it on your own or from instructional videos, enlist the aid of a well-qualified trainer.
When it comes to back exercises, a lot of gym-goers head straight to the lat pulldown machine. While that’s a decent option for training the back, especially the lats, there’s a superior vertical pulling exercise that requires no cable machine at all -- the chin up/ pull up.
Mastering one’s body weight is one of the best tests of relative strength, and there’s no better option to assess your strength to weight ratio than the chin up. Moreover, becoming really good at chin ups and pull ups also helps build stronger, more toned arms!
If you are already proficient at pull ups, you can use a weighted belt. If you currently struggle to perform even a few solid reps of chin ups, work on increasing the frequency with which you practice them and gradually increase the volume.
Inverted rows are another dynamite bodyweight exercise that can be safely loaded to accommodate your gains in strength as you progress. It’s also a fantastic exercise to help you get better at pull ups and chin ups since it involves learning how to move your body weight through space.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows
Whenever it comes to structuring an effective training program, it’s important to include unilateral exercise which work each side of your body independently. Unilateral exercises allows you to move a lot of weight and help address any strength imbalances that could result between the two sides of your body from solely performing bilateral exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, pulldown, and chin ups.
Plus, unilateral exercises like the 1-arm dumbbell row also allow for greater range of motion.
The final reason this row variation is one of the top back exercises is that you can better support your lower back (which is an issue for many people when they perform bent over barbell and dumbbell rows) by placing one hand on a bench or dumbbell rack.
Straight Arm Pulldown
While rows, pull ups, and deadlifts tend to get the lion’s share of the praise when it comes to back training. One of the most important exercises you can do for back strength and shoulder health is the straight-arm pulldown.
The straight-arm pushdown helps develop straight-arm scapular strength as well as trains the lats in a similar manner to how they will work during a deadlift. This translates to a stronger, more stable upper back which lends itself to better performance in all of your other upper body exercises.