12 Best Back Exercises and Workout for Mass & Strength

Let see the 12 Best Back Exercises and Workout that build massive back. But first, you need to understand back muscle anatomy and functionality. The back consists of several layers of muscle, stacked like a sandwich. The muscles of the back subdivide into three categories.

The upper back is made up of a large triangular-shaped muscle called the trapezius. It originates along the upper spine from the skull down to the last rib (that is, all the cervical and thoracic vertebrae). The upper traps elevate the scapula to shrug the shoulders and rotate the scapula to assist shoulder abduction. 

Back anatomy

The middle back consists of the latissimus dorsi, a large fan-shaped muscle that arises from the lower half of the spinal column, and the rear ridge of the pelvic bone. From its large origin, the latissimus converges into a bandlike tendon that attaches to the upper humerus (next to the tendon of the pectoralis major).

The lower back is made up of the erector spinae muscles that run alongside the entire length of the spinal column. In the lumbar region, the erector spinae split into three columns: the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis. These muscles are the pillars of strength in the lower back that stabilize the spine and extend the torso, arching the spine backward.

erector spinae

This Blog contains the description of the best back exercises that focus on the back muscles, including the latissimus dorsi (lat), teres major, rhomboids, trapezius, and deep spinae erectors. The back exercises are divided into barbell rowing exercises, dumbbell rowing exercises, cable and machine rowing exercises, body-weight exercises, pull-up and pulldown exercises, pullover exercises, and low-back exercises.

Here are the best 12 Back Exercise to build massive Back.

1. Lat Pull Down

The lat pulldown is an exercise used to build the muscles of the back. Lat pulldown is a great exercise of the back that is widely used by fitness trainers to build bigger lats. This isolating exercise specifically focuses on the back muscles without tiring out the biceps or triceps.

It’s important to target your back muscles to help with proper posture and to ease pulling movements. This exercise can be performed using wide grips and narrow grips as well as pulling to the front and the back. The wider grip is the best variation to target the outer lats.

Lat Pull Down
Muscles Involved

Primary: latissimus dorsi (outer section).

Secondary: Rear deltoid, lower trapezius, rhomboids.

Execution Technique
  1. Take an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and sit on the machine seat. Lock your knees under the support pads.
  2. keep your upper back straight, pull the bar down and bring it up to the chest. As you pull down squeeze your shoulder blades together and feel back muscles contracting.
  3. Perform this movement using your upper lats and use the arms merely as a lever between bar and lats.
  4. Now release the bar with controlled motion and stretch your lats as much as possible.
 Tips
  • To make the most of this move, your reps should be slow and controlled.
  • Go full range of motion and concentrate on your back muscles doing the major work.
  • Avoid rising yourself from the seat.
2. Barbell Shrug

Barbell Shrug is one of the best exercises to build bigger, stronger trapezius muscles. This exercise can be done extremely heavily to thicken the traps, which really helps you in doing back poses.

Barbell Shrug is one of the best isolation exercises for trapezius muscle. The shrug is one of the most simplistic and easy exercises to perform.

You can do the Shrug either using a dumbbell, Barbell, and smith machine, But barbell variation is the classic variation to build massive traps. Traps, being a stubborn muscle group for many, can be trained with a fairly high frequency during the week.

Barbell Shrug
Muscles Involved

Primary: trapezius, Lateral deltoid.

Secondary: Anterior deltoid, supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, teres minor.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand with feet placed shoulder-width apart, Knee slightly bent, and core stable.
  2. Grip the barbell with your hands facing downwards, in a pronated grip.
  3. Raise your shoulders without bending elbows as far as possible getting them closer to your ears.
  4. Hold the contraction and squeeze for a brief second, In a controlled and stable manner, lower the weight back down to the starting position.
Tips
  • Go as high as possible, but Limit momentum and excessive jerking or bouncing of the weight.
  • Go full range. Move only shoulders and keep rest of body steady.
3. Chin Up

A chin-up is a strength training exercise that uses your entire body weight, with a special focus on your upper body and core. Chin-ups are the best exercise to build sweeping upper lats. This is a bodyweight exercise that can induce serious muscle growth of the back and biceps.

In this exercise, the palms are faced towards the body. Since the lifter is pulling their own bodyweight, the biceps are usually exposed to loads heavier than what one can lift with a barbell.

Chin Up
Muscles Involved

Primary: latissimus dorsi and biceps brachii

Secondary: Teres major, posterior deltoid, infraspinatus, teres minor.

Execution Technique
  1. Grab a pull-up bar with an underhand grip (palm facing toward the body), hands shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower.
  2. Straighten your arms, keep your knees bent and cross your lower legs. can also be done with leg staright.
  3. Retract your shoulder blades and pull your body up until your chin becomes aligned with the bar.
  4. Pause for one to two seconds at the top, with the biceps under maximum tension. Slowly lower to the start position.
Tips
  • Don’t get in the habit of doing half reps and chasing numbers.
  • Lower to almost full extension of the elbow but avoid locking out completely.
4. Barbell Upright Row

Upright Row is an excellent exercise to Build huge Trapezius muscles and create that delto-pectoral separation. Heavy Upright Rows along with Shrugs build massive traps. You can use either a smith machine, free weights, or Cable to perform Upright Rows. Upright rows can be done with both narrow grips and wider ones.

The narrow grip focuses on the trapezius and the wider focuses on the entire shoulder girdle. Also, the wider grip allows some cheating movement thereby allowing you to lift more weight.

Barbell Upright Row
Muscles Involved

Primary: Trapezius, deltoid.

Secondary: levator scapulae, erector spinae, forearms.

Execution Technique
  1. Hold a bar with a narrow overhand grip and let it hang in front of you.
  2. Lift the bar and get it as close as possible to the chin using your arms and elevating your shoulders to squeeze your trapezius muscles.
  3. Now lower the bar under controlled motion until it comes back to its starting position.
  4. Repeat for desired reps.
Tips
  • Focus on keeping your elbows higher than your forearms
  • Keep a controlled motion and avoid jerky movements.
  • Keep your back straight.
5. Deadlift

The deadlift is the King of all exercises. This power Exercise designed to build an overall physique that uses more muscles than any other exercise. The deadlift is the best exercise for posterior chain muscle strengthening. Its works your whole body including the Lower back, upper back, arms, legs, and buttocks.

It is the biggest muscle builder, recruiting more muscle motor units than any other exercise. This exercise can be performed using either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. You can go real heavy on a barbell Deadlift, but do this exercise with caution and technique.

Deadlift
Muscles Involved

Primary: Erector spinae, gluteals, hamstrings.

Secondary: Trapezius, latissimus dorsi, quadriceps, forearms.

Execution Technique
  1. Place a barbell loaded with weights in front of you. Grab the barbell using an underhand grip with one hand and overhand grip with the other hand. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible and contract your back and hamstrings.
  2. Now raise the bar from the ground using your hamstrings and glutes.. You should keep your legs slightly bent, back straight and head looking up. The initial movement is to be provided by your heels and not toes or elbows.
  3. Raise it to the point where your body is erect. Do not hyperextend your body as the weight shifts to the lumbar spine. Hold the bar for a moment at the top of the lift and remember to lockout. Complete the lift and do not go only halfway through.
  4. Now lower the bar slowly at a steady slow pace by bending at the hips first and then at the knees and let the weight touch the ground for a moment before you begin the next rep
Tips
  • If performed deadlift incorrectly, it can cause more harm than good. Keep the back straight at all costs.
  • Lower back muscles take along to recuperate and hence once a week heavy deadlifts will do the job.
  • Go full range of motion and keep form correct. Avoid jerky movements and keep them controlled.
6. Bent Over Barbell Rows

If you are looking to strengthen the upper back and add massive muscle to the upper back region then bent over barbell rows is the best upper back exercise. Spacing your hands shoulder-width apart or closer targets the central inner section of the lats, whereas a wider grip targets the outer lats.

Pulling the bar up higher toward the chest targets the upper latissimus and trapezius. Pulling the bar through a lower trajectory to touch the abdomen targets the lower lats.

Bent Over Barbell Rows
Muscles Involved

Primary: Latissimus dorsi.

Secondary: Erector spinae, trapezius, rhomboids, rear deltoid.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand with a narrow stance and grab a bar with overhand grip.
  2. bend your torso forward at an angle of 45 degrees to the floor with knees slightly and let the bar hang in front of you.
  3. Now use the back and raise the bar until it touches the abdominal region and not the chest region as it reduces back muscle contraction.
  4. Slowly lower the bar under control to starting position.
Tips
  • Do not use more weight than you can handle. This fatigues your spinal erectors and say goodbye to form.
  • Exhale on pushing movement, and inhale when returning to the starting position.
  • Hold a neutral spine throughout the movement to prevent injury.
7. Lumbar Hyperextension

Hyperextension exercise directly hits the erector spinae muscles building a strong back. It helps to build the lower back Erector spinae muscles. This exercise is done on a hyperextension Bench/Roman Chair. Making Hyperextensions difficult, you can also hold a plate to your chest or behind the head for additional resistance if the exercise becomes easy and you can do a lot of reps.

Lumbar Hyperextension
Muscles Involved

Primary: Erector spinae.

Secondary: Latissimus dorsi, giuteals, hamstrings.

Execution Technique
  1. Lie face down on a Hyperextension bench and hook your legs under support. Let your body be parallel to the ground.
  2. Place your hands on your chest (or behind your neck) and bend down through your waist until you reach a 90 degree bend.
  3. Return to the start position but avoid extending beyond the body level.
  4. Do the desired number of reps and sets.
 Tips
  • Avoid hyperextension beyond the body level.
  • Keep movement always under control without letting gravity take you down faster.
8. Seated Cable Rows

Seated Cable Rows is an excellent exercise to build middle back muscles and this works on lower lats as well. It can be done with wide and narrow grips. This exercise is done on a cable rowing machine with separate handles.

A pronated (overhand) grip tends to target the upper and middle trapezius, whereas a neutral (thumbs up) grip hits the middle and lower trapezius. A supinated (underhand) grip switches the focus to the latissimus dorsi.

Seated Cable Rows
Muscles Involved

Primary: Trapezius (middle and lower fibers), latissimus dorsi.

Secondary: Rhomboids, rear deltoid.

Execution Technique
  1. Sit on a seated cable pulley rowing machine with legs slightly bent and feet supported against the crossbar.
  2. Take hold of the handles with your arms extended and back stretched.
  3. Pull the handles so that they come as close to the lower chest/abdomen as possible.
  4. Thrust your chest out while pulling with your body in upright position. Slowly return the handle to the starting position.
Tips
  • Pause briefly when the handles are close to the chest and squeeze your upper back muscles bringing the scapulae closer.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent to avoid knee and lower backpressure.
  • Remember a rounded back is a wrong back. Keep it straight at all times.
  • keep your upper back stationary, don’t move your upper back, back, and forth.
9. One Arm Dumbbell Rows

One Arm Dumbbell Rows is an excellent alternative to barbell rows and it provides the full range motion to build the lats muscles. This exercise helps to work on each side independently, thereby provide better muscle isolation and a longer range of motion. This exercise is done with a heavy dumbbell with your body supported by a bench.

One Arm Dumbbell Row
Muscles Involved

Primary: Latissimus dorsi.

Secondary: Trapezius, rhomboids, rear deltoid, erector spinae, biceps.

Execution Technique
  1. Grasp a dumbbell with palm facing in. Rest the opposite hand and knee on a bench, keeping your spine straight and just above parallel to the floor.
  2. Pull the dumbbell vertically upward alongside your torso, raising the elbow as high as possible.
  3. Slowly lower the dumbbell as low as possible feeling a good lats spread.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
Tips
  • Keep motion under strict control for better isolation.
  • Avoid hunchback bending as it leads to Injury.
10. T Bar Rows

T bar Rows is a power exercise to build middle back muscles. Check the correct execution technique and blast your back muscles. It also works on the outer lats when done with a narrower grip.

T bar rows are done on a T bar machine or placing a barbell at the corner. T bar rows is a tough exercise, but building a strong back is a must to develop a quality physique, stay injury-free, and back pain-free for life.

T Bar Row
Muscles Involved

Primary: Latissimus dorsi.

Secondary: Erector spinae, trapezius, rhomboids, rear deltoid.

Execution Technique
  1. Standing on a T bar machine, grab its handles with an overhand grip. Keep your feet bit apart and knees slightly bent.
  2. Bend at the hips and keep your back arched throughout the movement.
  3. Lift the bar until the bar touches your chest keeping the back straight.
  4. Now slowly lower the bar until it nearly touches the ground.
Tips
  • Exhale while you exert.
  • Avoid hunchback bending as it leads to Injury.
  • Go Complete range of motion.
11. Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell Pullover is the best exercise to build a strong rib cage and build serratus anterior muscle to build a complete chest and back. Pullover work directly on the serratus anterior muscle to develop the back. This exercise is done lying across a bench with a heavy dumbbell.

Dumbbell Pullovers
Muscles Involved

Primary: Lower Pectoralis & Lats

Secondary: Shoulders, Triceps.

Steps
  1. Lie across on a bench on your shoulders so that your head is hanging.
  2. Grasp a dumbbell with both hands and get it straight over your chest.
  3. Lower the dumbbell in an arc slowly, getting a good stretch in your rib cage.
  4. Lower the dumbbell as far as possible and then raise it back to the starting position.
Tips
  • Exhale while you exert.
  • Maximum stretching ensures the greatest expansion on the rib cage.
  • Relax your hips and let them fall as relaxed hips help in extra expansion.
12. Straight Arm Lat Pull Down

The straight arm lat pulldown is a variation of the lat pull down. The straight arm lat pulldown is one of the best exercises to strengthen your lats. This isolation exercise can also help to improve your posture and build a bigger back. While the exercise will primarily target the lats, you will also notice a fair amount of bicep and middle back activation.

Straight Lat Pulldown
Muscles Involved

Primary: latissimus dorsi.

Secondary: Rear deltoid, lower trapezius, rhomboids, Biceps, and Abs.

Execution Technique
  1. Take an overhand grip that is wider than shoulder-width on a lat bar attached to the pulley on the lat pulldown bar.
  2. Position yourself with your feet flat on the floor, chest up, and low-back arch exaggerated.
  3. Pull your shoulder blades together as you squeeze your lats to initiate the movement, pulling the bar down in a smooth motion to your midsection.
  4. Hold the contraction for a moment, then slowly return the bar all the way back to the starting position.
Tips
  • Don’t allow the head to jut forward as you pull.
  • Keep your elbows slightly flexed and your body still
Bonus : Wide-Grip Pull-Up

The wide-grip pull-up is an upper-body strength movement that targets your back, chest, shoulders, and arms. Performing a pull-up is often a challenge for beginners and even experienced athletes. The wide-grip pull-up is harder to perform than a standard pull-up because your hands will be further away from the center of your body which makes the exercise more difficult. 

The wide grip pull-up increases the strength, thickness, and width of your back, specifically your lats. The lats are what influences back width and form the “V” in the upper back.

Wide Grip Pull Up
Muscles Involved

Primary: latissimus dorsi

Secondary: Rear deltoid, lower trapezius, rhomboids, arms.

Execution Technique
  1. Using an overhand grip, grab on to a pull-up bar with your hands spaced wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and your chest high while exaggerating the arch in your lower back.
  3. Pull yourself up by squeezing your shoulder blades together and contracting your lats until your chin passes the bar.
  4. Hold the contraction at the top for a second before slowly lowering yourself back to the starting position.

Tips

  • To decrease bicep involvement, use a thumbless grip.
  • Go full range of motion and keep form correct. Avoid jerky movements and keep them controlled.
Conclusion

This exercise is highly recommended for anyone interested in building back strength and gaining muscle size. It not only allows for targeted muscle development but also provides an overall upper body workout. It is easy to do and requires no more scientific details and fancy equipment. If you do these back exercises consistently, the results will speak for themselves.

Thanks for reading, enjoy working your Back Workout!

Stay Fit, Live a Happy and Healthy Life

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