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Top Exercises For a Complete Back Workout

My lats in particular need a bit more work but I think you’ll agree they–and my back overall–are no longer a glaring weakness.

So, in this article, I want to to talk all about what it takes to build a back that makes people say “wow.”

Like most major muscle groups, it takes a lot of work to really make your back stand out. A lot more than the pullups and high-rep dumbbell rows that I used to do–that’s for damn sure.

Fortunately, though, it’s not complicated once you know what you’re doing. And I’m going to break it all down here for you–the best back exercises, how I like to program workouts, how supplementation fits into the picture, and more.

The bottom line is if you follow my advice and eat properly, your back will get bigger and stronger.

The four muscles that make up the bulk of the back, and that we want to focus on developing, are the…

    Latissimus dorsi
    Erector spinae

Here’s how they look:

  Pull-Ups & Lat Pull-Downs

Pullup (Wide Grip)

    Grasp the bar with an overhand grip. Fully extend your arms and relax your shoulders to stretch your lats in the bottom position.
    As you pull up, visualize keeping your elbows out to your sides and pulling them down to raise yourself while contracting your lats.
    Pull yourself up as high as possible to fully stimulate your lats.
    If you can't make it all the way up, consider enlisting the help of a spotter or use an assisted pull-up machine.

Target Tip - To really stress the upper/outer lats and teres major in the bottom position, squeeze your shoulder blades together as you hang with your arms fully extended.

  One-Arm Dumbbell Row, Close-Grip Seated Cable Row

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

    Lean forward at the waist and place your right knee and right hand on a flat bench.
    Keep your left foot flat on the floor and hold a dumbbell in your left hand. Let the weight hang straight down and slightly forward with your arm fully extended.
    Pull the dumbbell toward your hip, keeping your elbow close to your side.
    Keeping your back flat and abs tight, pull your elbow as high as you can. At the top, squeeze your shoulder blades together, then lower the weight along the same path.
    Repeat for reps, then switch arms.

Target Tip - In the bottom position, hold the dumbbell slightly forward from your shoulder; as you go through the rep, pull it up and back.

Primary Muscles: Back, Biceps, Rhomboids, Trapezius

1. Sit at a cable station with a narrow-grip attachment. Lean back slightly with bent knees.

2. Maintain a flat back and tight core, contract your biceps, and pull the cable into your chest . Don’t swing or use momentum.

3. Hold 1s, return to full extension , and repeat.

Bent over barbell rows

For a thick, muscular, strong back perform bent over barbell rows. These are great at developing the upper back. They will engorge you traps, lats and all the support muscles with blood, producing an intense pump.

Reverse-Grip Pulldown

    Take an underhand, shoulder-width grip. This allows you to pull your elbows back as far as possible, maximally stimulating the back muscles.
    Keep your torso upright and a slight arch in your back as you fully extend your arms at the top. Keep your chest out and flexed throughout the move; this helps concentrate more stress on the back muscles.
    Pull your elbows down and back as far as you can until the bar approaches your upper pecs. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the point of peak contraction.

Target Tip - To focus in on those lower-lat fibers, keep your chest high and your back arched. As you pull the bar down, bring it toward your lower chest for a better contraction.

Straight-Arm Lat Pulldown

    Grasp an overhead lat bar and stand far enough back from the station to keep your arms nearly straight (with just a slight bend in your elbows) throughout the movement.
    Pull the bar down in an arc with straight arms until it touches your upper thighs. Concentrate on feeling the movement in your lats; your arms should act only as levers.
    Movement should take place at only the shoulder joints.

Target Tip - For optimal stimulation of the lower lats, don't just stop when the bar touches your thighs at the bottom - actually push the bar back into your thighs and squeeze your lats as hard as you can.


 For those insane looking bulges of muscle on your neck and shoulder, perform shrugs. Either with a dumbbell or barbells. Make it heavy and high reps. This will pump up your traps and give you a wide, thick neck and shoulders.
Perform these exercises with each back workout and you won't be disappointed. Stay consistent and motivated and you will see gains. Achieving a big, wide, thick back will add so much to you frame. You will look huge and will feel great. Building strength in you back will also aid in other lifts, especially things like the bench press and dips. As the back is the opposite muscle and will cause stabilization and extra strength in the opposing muscle groups.

T Bar Rows

1. Place a loaded barbell in between your legs. You can either use a narrow-grip cable attachment and place it under the bar, or directly hold the bar with a stagnated grip.

2. Drop your torso down to 45°, tighten your core, and maintain strong posture — keep your lower back stiff and don’t let it arch

3. Contract your lats and traps and pull the bar up into your chest . Hold the contraction for 1s and slowly release the bar back down to the ground . Repeat.

thanks for reading.