The back muscles usually take last priority for most lifters because they can’t see changes in it right away. They prefer seeing improvements they can look at in the mirror. After all, having a well-developed chest is the universal sign that a person lifts weights. However, more people will be impressed (and scared) by a wide, muscular back simply because it is the largest muscle group in the upper body. In addition, it gives your physique a nice V-taper, which women actually find indicative of good genes and thus, more attractive.

There are many muscles in the back, but the most visible is the latissimus dorsi, or simply lats. This muscle is what you’ll feel when you press your elbow down on a table and you touch below your armpit. It is large, and takes quite a lot of work to grow. That means using heavy weights or doing multiple sets, or even working it out more often.

These exercises work the upper back muscles really well. They serve to balance out a lot of pressing movements and are very safe because they are bodyweight movements – if you can’t do them, or are too tired to do them, you can easily drop the weight and a superband for assistance. If you can pump out a ton of these try a weight vest or a weight between your legs to increase the intensity to get your back to grow more. Remember changing up the grips from wide, close, reverse, etc. Just means you putting more emphasize in some muscles compared to others. This is a great technique to develop strength in all different grips. You can also use fat grips, towels, rings to increase the intensity and add a different stimulant.  Pull ups are a great functional movement where most of the body has to stabilize to maintain good form and do the movement.

pull-ups, pullups, strong back, lats

Doing pull-ups will give you a strong back.


Dumbbell Rows
This movement is not given due respect by some proponents of “heavy lifting”. It seems that these boys have not been using dumbbells heavy enough to let them know better. Dumbbell rows work your arms and back. Depending if you do wide rows or close to the body rows will depend on which muscles get more focus. They all work due to the all or none theory in muscle physiology. Which states that either all the muscle fibers contract or none of the contract. Wide rows get more scapular humeral muscles rhomboids, rear delts, lower 3 and 4 traps which help improve posture. Pulling in tight to the body get’s more lats and biceps to fire. We recommend you use both movements though lean more towards the wide grip for pulling to improve posture.

Barbell Rows
This exercise is a great back exercise. It works the same muscles as Bent over rows and depending if you pull wide or close works the same as the DB rows listed above. It’s a great exercise that will force you to stabilize more with your lower back and the rest of your body. As well as a good shift in your routine of back exercises. Which  allows you to use heavier weights to give your muscles more stimulus for growth. Barbell rows can also be used as an assistance exercise to help you do the best back exercise safely, even with a lot of weight. It trains you to keep your back in its natural arch.

DB, Barbell, or Cable pullovers are a great exercise for the back. The lats and the long head of the tricpes are used in this back exercise. Focus on pulling the DB or Barbell up with your lats and keeping good posture and neutral spine. This is a great exercise to add to your back routine.  It can also engage your abs at bit.

This is one of the most important exercise that would make the top 10 of best exercises.  This is a Power Lifting Exercise. Deadlifts work primarily the lower back, glutes and hamstrings.  The exercise allows you to use a tremendous amount of weight, proper form is essential for safety.  Your arms will be getting worked from simply holding a heavy loaded barbell. Deadlifts are also very functional, since lifting something off the ground is a normal part of life. Many senior adults injure their lower backs while lifting moderately heavy stuff – by doing deadlifts, you’ll learn the proper form, as well as keep your entire body strong so you’ll have less of a chance of getting injured doing simple things.

Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici,