Working out your back muscles effectively can be one of the trickiest things to do in the gym. However, establishing new growth and toning the muscles in your back is crucial for various reasons. In this article, we’ll expand on the importance of building the muscles in your back, and then get you going in the right direction with six of the best exercises you can do for your back. Let’s get started!
The Importance of Building Back Muscle
A toned back looks great, but it goes without saying that your back muscles play a vital role in your everyday activities and in other exercises.
Your back is comprised of several different muscle groups, with each having its own key functionality. Take a look:
- Erector Spinae – Your erector spinae makes up the lower portion of your back muscles. This group of muscles is essential for overall stability.
- Trapezius – The trapezius muscles are critical for upward and downward rotations. This muscle group can also assist with pulling things.
- Latissimus Dorsi – The latissimus dorsi muscle group is responsible for most of your pulling strength.
- Levator Scapular and Rhomboid – When it comes to shoulder blade control and stability, your levator scapular and rhomboid muscles are responsible.
Below, we’ll discuss how you and your body can benefit from a strong and toned back:
- Posture – By strengthening your back muscles, you gain an increased capability of having better posture while sitting and standing. Good posture is vital for preventing various forms of tension and back pain.
- Balance – Your back plays a significant role in your body’s overall balance. By strengthening your core back muscles, you can see an overall improvement in balance during sports activities or in daily movements.
- Athletic Improvement – Athletes utilize all sorts of different muscles, no matter which sport they’re competing in. One thing they all have in common, however, is the importance that back muscles play in situations like balancing, lifting, pulling, running, and more. By focusing on strengthening back muscles, many athletes can see a marked improvement in overall performance.
- Lifting Performance – Back muscle strength directly correlates to lifting performance by improving symmetry and balance capabilities.
- Overall Daily Movement – Whether you’re performing household chores or simply walking down the street, your back plays a primary role in a large chunk of the daily movements you regularly rely on.
- Muscle Trophy and Back Pain Prevention – For those of us who lead more sedentary lifestyles, and especially as we age, strong back muscles can help prevent muscle atrophy and pain related to spinal misalignment.
How to Build Muscle Mass In Your Back
Not all exercises are created equal when it comes to building strength and muscle mass in your back. Fortunately, we’ve identified six key workouts that target your back’s relevant muscle groups to help you see more gains and strength in less time.
- Pull-Ups – You’re most likely already doing pull-ups regularly in the gym. But did you know that pull-ups are an essential workout for building back muscle? Here’s how to perform this exercise correctly to maximize your back muscle gains:
- Place your hands on the overhead bar with an overhanded grip that is shoulder-width apart.
- Pull yourself up towards the bar while keeping your back straight.
- Once the bar is about chest area, hold for a brief moment, and then lower yourself down to complete the rep.
- T-Bar Row – Upper and middle back muscle groups are ideally worked on through the performance of a t-bar row. Because many other similar workouts will also engage different muscle groups, this exercise can prove helpful in isolating your middle and upper back muscle groups for optimal strength building. Here’s how you can perform this exercise:
- Using a weighted t-bar, position yourself to where your sternum is on the support area as you lie flat in a prone position.
- Keep your chest up and back flat as you pull the t-bar towards you.
- Lower the t-bar back down to complete the repetition.
- Bent-Over Row – The bent-over row is an excellent back exercise because it works out the entire back at once. You can also use whatever weight format you’re comfortable with: kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, or something else. Here’s how you can do the bent-over row the next time you’re in the gym:
- Stand with your feet parallel to your hips and with your back parallel to the ground.
- Place your hands with palms facing down onto your weight device.
- Pull your bar or weights towards your stomach area while keeping your back straight.
- Lower your weights back down to complete the repetition.
- Deadlift – If you regularly strength train, you’re most likely already rotating deadlifts within your schedule. If you’re seeking to build back muscle, however, the deadlift move becomes even more critical. Here’s how you can perform deadlifts to maximize your back-building efforts:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and back straight, and then bend your knees slightly and grab your bar with an overhanded grip.
- Lock your chest, hips, knees, and back as you push your legs into the floor firmly and lift your weighted bar to your hip area. Hold the bar for a moment and then lower it down to complete the rep.
- Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row – Overall, row exercises are excellent for building back strength. However, if you really want to focus your efforts, try a wide-grip seated cable row. Here’s how you can perform this exercise:
- Position yourself on the seat in front of the row bars and grip each bar with an overhanded grip.
- Using a rowing motion, pull the bar back until it touches your chest. Be sure to keep your shoulders straight and arms parallel to your back during this move.
- Complete the repetition by pushing the bar back forward, and then repeat for your predetermined amount of repetitions.
- Close-Grip Pull-Down – For this move, you’ll need a close grip handle attachment. The reason the close-grip pull-down is effective stems from it mimicking more of a natural grip and engaging your lateral muscles more effectively. Here’s how you can perform this move:
- Sit on the bench with your back straight. Hold each side of the close-grip with an overhanded grip.
- Pull down on your grip while keeping your back and shoulder straight.
- Allow the grip to go back up to complete the rep.
As always, when performing any new exercise, we recommend seeking guidance from a trainer until you’re comfortable with the movements. Your back is an integral part of your body, and you definitely want to take all precautions necessary to avoid injury.