By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II
The back is often forgotten about as a necessary section of the body to train. With a predominant focus on arms and abs, it is quite easy at times to forget about our back musculature. The real question at hand is why you would not dedicate equal time to focus on your back? A sculpted back showcases aesthetics and is also crucial for maintaining proper posture, muscular synergy and a well-developed core. Not only does a workout program focused on our backs emphasize the points listed above, but back strength is functional. Functional back exercises range from rock climbing, loading heavy objects, and opening the door for your lovely date or marital partner.
Before getting started with our 6 Result Driven Back Exercises, let’s take a look at the anatomy of the back.
- The lats and trapezius (aka traps) span the largest area, running from the base of the neck all the way down to the hips. They make up the bulk of the back’s muscle mass and generate the most force. The traps are not just the humps on top of your shoulders, they also dominate the inner part of the upper back.
- The rhomboids, infraspinatus, and teres are smaller muscles that run diagonally across the width of the upper back. Aesthetically, they add definition and distinct cuts behind the scapula (your shoulder blades). They are typically targeted while working the lats and traps (via rows, pull-ups, etc.).
- The erector spinae runs vertically in columns along the vertebrae and makes up most of the muscle in the lower back. It is a critical element in all-around core strength.
Exercises: (3 sets for 15 repetitions), progression set add weight, reduce rep #.
1) Bent over barbell rows
Primary Muscles: Trapezius in conjunction with you lats, abdomen and gluteus.
- Hold a barbell in front of your body with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width.
- Tighten your core, straighten your back, and drop your torso down to 60º.
- Powerfully contract your back and biceps, and pull the barbell upwards into the top of your core. Hold for 1 second and return down to a full extension. Repeat.
2) Bent-over one arm dumbbell rows
Primary Muscles: Middle back, lats, biceps, shoulders
- Place your left knee and left hand firmly anchored on a flat bench. Your left hand should serve as support for your body.
- Maintain a tight core and flat back, contract your lats and biceps, and slowly row the dumbbell upwards until it is above your torso.
- Hold 1s and slowly lower the dumbbell to a full extension — you should feel a stretch throughout your upper back. Repeat.
3) Renegade dumbbell rows
Primary Muscles: Lats, deltoids, pectoralis major, rhomboids, infraspinatus
- Assume push up position with two dumbbells (neutral grip)
- While keeping your core tight and back flat, powerfully row your right arm up until it is slightly above your torso. Do not rotate your body.
- Hold the contraction for 1 second, return to the bottom, and repeat for the opposite arm.
4) Military Grip Lat Pull Downs
Primary Muscles: Lats, trapezius, posterior deltoids, middle back, erector spinae
- Find a lat pull down machine with interchangeable clips. Place two hand grips on it.
- With palms facing one another, lean back 70 degrees and pull down sliding your hands alongside your rib cage, then repeat.
5) T Bar Rows
Primary Muscles: Middle back, rear delts, traps
- 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.
- Drop your torso down to 45°, tighten your core, and maintain strong posture, keep your lower back stiff and do not let it arch.
- Contract your lats and traps and pull the bar up into your chest. Hold the contraction for 1 second and slowly release the bar back down to the ground. Repeat
6) Back Extensions
Primary Muscles: Erector spinae, iliocostalis, longissimus, spinalis
- Prop yourself up on a back extension machine with your arms crossed. You can also do this on a stability ball.
- Without arching your back, slowly bend your torso forward until it forms a 45º angle with your legs.
- Squeeze your lower back and raise your body back up to starting position. Repeat.
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- Bryan DiSanto – 13 Killer Back Exercises To Chisel Out A Defined, V-Shaped, Undulating Back
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