5 Best Exercises for Back
The back muscle is the foundation stone to your entire body’s musculature. It is the most important muscle and you must devote more time to train your back. People facing lower back or spinal problems have them due to weak back and lower back(spinal erectors) muscles. Hence working on developing a good, strong back is very important to increase the longevity of your general strength and physical fitness.
Basically, a bigger back will make you look wider, your posture more erect and stable and will give you a greater functional strength in the entire body. Training back also trains your forearms and biceps side by side.
In my opinion, back training requires a great amount of effort and concentration by the lifter. You should be meticulous in planning your back routine and giving it priority over other body parts. Always remember, although it is not flaunted as much as the BICEPS, it will definitely be your most prized possession once you develop it fully.
Here is a gist on back training: Since the back is a huge muscle group, it is divided into 3 major regions for weight training purposes.
The Lats- Upper and Lower parts of the muscles originating from under your shoulder blades.
Traps- Middle Portion of the back.
Erectors- Muscles of the lower back.
A balanced back routine would target all these muscles in some way or the other.
- Any sort of pulling movement will involve the back muscles. That being said, these pulling exercises can be classified into 3 types of pulls:-
- Pulling weight from above your head:- Targets your Lats and increases the width of the back.
- Pulling weight placed horizontally ahead of you:- Targets the lower portion of your Lats, rear deltoids and somewhat the middle traps.
- Pulling Weight up from the ground:- Gives you an all round thickness and hits your lower back and your entire trap muscle.
- Movements like bent over rows, deadlifts etc. work best when you use heavy weights for reps kept lower than 8 per set, whereas the lat movements like Pull ups, Pulldowns etc. best work when you use higher repetitions, in the range of 12-15 per set.
- Always start the day with the exercise you find the toughest to do. For some overweight people, it is the Pull Ups, whereas it is the deadlift for the others. Hit that exercise when you are the freshest and can put in maximum effort.
- Since back takes a longer time to recover, training it once a week is sufficient for most people.
- Don’t use such heavy weights that you are forced to jerk in the machine based exercises like the Pulldown and the Seated Rows. Feel the pump with such exercises by executing slow, deliberate repetitions. The heavy weights should be reserved for the rowing type movements, where a little body English won’t do you harm.
Top 5 Back Building Exercises.
This, in my opinion, is the best exercise you can do with weights, period. Deadlifts primarily focuses on your lower back and traps, with supplementary benefits for the lower Lats, hamstrings and forearms. You can increase the thickness of your back with using heavy weights for this exercise with proper form.
Approach the loaded barbell with your feet slightly pointed outwards and spread at an even shoulder width. Maintain minimum distance between the bar and your shins. Bend down like you would in a squat, grab the bar with an over under grip and without arching your back pick the weight of the floor. Remember, at the starting position your upper body should be making a 45 degree angle with the floor.
A little arching is okay but excessive arching can set you up for spinal problems in the future. Don’t position the bar excessively ahead of your body as you won’t be able to generate the maximum force in this position.
Bent Over Rows
This is the best pulling exercise for developing a thick solid back. You will also see gains in your bench press weight if you do this exercise correctly.
Pick the weight with an overhand grip while bending at the waist and bring the weight up until it touches your lower abdomen. Slowly, lower the weight down until your arms hang completely and then repeat the movement.
Some people literally do their rows standing, which makes it more of a shrug than a row. Maintain a 45 degree angle at the waist. Also, don’t be shy to cheat the last couple of reps with a fair bit of body English, but restrict it to only the last few reps, not the entire set.
You can use an underhand grip which makes this exercise a bit more lower Lat targeting exercise rather than the entire Lat.
T- Bar Rows:
This exercise activates the outer part of the Lats and is a great mass gaining movement for the back.
Position a bar with one end stuck in a corner and attach a close handle grip on the other end of the bar. Load this end and grab the bar at this handle. When you start the movement, the handle should be placed almost an inch away from your feet. Pick the weight up and bend at a 45 degree angle. Bring the weight up to your upper abdomen and then lower the weight back to almost complete extension of your arms.
Don’t lower the weight all the way down. Also, the repetitions should be performed rather quickly here for the most benefits.
This is one of my favourite machine based exercise. You can work your lats with a decent bit of isolation with this exercise.
Grab the handle and move back until your legs are completely straight. Then, bring the handle back all the way to your lower abdomen. Extend your arms and move forward until the weight touches the stack back. Keep your back straight throughout the movement.
Don’t jerk the weight in this movement. Also, when you touch the weight to your stomach that is , at the top of the movement, your upper body should be perpendicular to the ground. Be sure to maintain the maximum distance between the pulley and your upper body.
A wider grip handle attachment will help you to completely focus on your upper outer Lats whereas the closer attachment will help you focus on the lower outer Lats.
Also, Add Shrugs on your back days to hit the traps directly. These are the best exercise for your traps.
Here is a sample Back routine:
5 sets X 10-12 reps (If this looks easy, stick a dumbbell between your feet and make the movement a weighted pull up.)
5 sets X 5 reps
T- Bar Rows
4 sets X 8 reps
3 sets X 12-15 reps
Dumbbell/ Barbell Shrugs
6 sets X 8 reps
Follow these 5 exercises regularly but keep varying the number of reps, sets and always vary your workouts to keep your muscles growing.