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Setting aside legs, the back is probably the most difficult part of the body to work out mostly because it’s a major pain to endure for the rest of the week. In fact, many bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts share the fear of going through the best back workouts simply because it involves exercises that seem simple but are relatively tougher and more excruciating than others.
However, the results are equally if not more rewarding in the long run.
You need to understand something when it comes to working your back because this minor change in your routine can have a huge impact on your gains. And many beginners find it hard to work on their back muscles alone without supervision solely because of this.
Whenever you’re doing back exercises, you need to squeeze your back so as to make your wings or shoulder blades meet each other in the middle.
This is something you need to focus on when you’re engaging in workouts like pull-ups or pulldowns. Even when you’re going for deadlifts, cable or barbell rows, you need to squeeze to have your shoulder blades align with each other in the center of your back. Only then can you be sure that you’re working your back perfectly.
If you’re looking for the best back workouts that can help you get the V-shape that you want, read on below to find a list of reliable back exercises as well as helpful tips to get you through back days effectively:
- Barbell deadlift
- Barbell Rack Pull
- Romanian Deadlift
- Snatch-grip Deadlift
- Trap Bar Deadlift
Head over to a barbell and before you feel the urge to put on additional weights, start with something easy because even this weight will become too much in a minute. Now, carefully align your grips as per your need and remember that front-facing grips and reverse grips can make a difference. As you bend over, pick up the barbell and slowly straighten yourself up, lifting the barbell up. Again, remember to align your shoulder blades together regardless of how difficult it seems.
Deadlifts are one of the many back exercises that also work your calves, upper traps and the entire posterior chain in your body. Do 10-13 reps in the beginning and bring the number to 13-15 while resting for 90 seconds in between sets. You’ll be gaining muscle mass and, releasing muscle-building hormones and get bigger in the process.
2. T-Bar Row
- Lying T-Bar Row
- Landmine Row Holding a Wide T-handle
- Landmine Row Holding the Bar
The T-Bar is easily recognized as one of the most hated machines in the gym simply because it destroys your back muscles before giving you the gains you want. Different from a bent-over row, T-Bar rows allow you to put on more weight and increase the intensity of your back workout.
The machine will do most of the exercise for you so all you have to do is focus on your form and posture. For that, you need to adjust yourself so that you’re doing the first thing mentioned in this post, making your shoulder blades meet on your back.
As you pull on the bar, you’ll be squeezing them toward each other. If you feel the angle is making you pull more from one side, adjust yourself. Lift it up at least 12-15 times before giving yourself a 90-second rest.
3. Single-Arm Smith Machine Row
Requirement: Smith Machine (ideally) / Dumbbell / Barbell
- Bent-over Rows
- Bodyweight Inverted Rows
Single-arm rows are staple back workout exercises that can be worked perfectly with a smith machine, regardless of whatever anyone might say about the gym equipment. This way, you don’t compromise on your angle and therefore, on your lats and overall back workout effectiveness.
You might have to remove the seat and get a bench or a box to get yourself at the right height. Once you do, get on one side of the bar, bend down and hold the bar just below your knee.
Without straightening up or moving your upper body, bring the bar up to your hips and slowly lower it down again. The Smith Machine will ensure that you’re not deviating from the right angle. Do at least 12-15 reps in a set and rest for a minute and a half.
4. Lat Pull Down
Requirement: Lat Pull Down Machine
- Underhand, Overhand and Neutral-Grip Pull Down
- Rope Handle Pull Down
- Single-Arm Pull Down
- Half Kneeling and Full Kneeling Pull Downs
You can start your back day with this back exercise as it’s also used in flexibility workouts for stretching warmups and cooldowns before and after a workout. You can squeeze in about 8-12 reps of this exercise at the end of a hefty workout routine.
Just pull down on the close neutral grip and as you lower it, apply more force at the end to squeeze tighter. As the grip goes up, make sure you feel the stretch before you pull down again.
5. Decline Dumbbell Pull Over
Requirement: Decline Surface (bench), Dumbbell, Barbell
- Straight Arm Pull Down
- Dumbbell Pull Over
- Flat Bench Pull Over
- Cable Pull Over
Although many people prefer to use the flat bench for most of their exercises, go with the decline to burn your lats by making them move to their extreme. Go for 10-15 reps as per your fitness level but rest for at least 90 seconds.
Hold a single dumbbell in your hands and lie on the bench with sufficient space behind your head to bring your hands all the way behind. While letting the dumbbell suspend over the ground, feel the squeeze in your back and shoulders.
6. Chest Supported Row
Requirement: Decline Surface (bench), Dumbbells
- Incline Bench Chest-Supported Row
- Seal Row
You can unleash the beast inside with this exercise because the chest support minimizes the risks of hurting your back while working it out. However, make sure not to do more than 15 reps per set and rest for a minute before getting back to it. Also, try different variations on different back days for maximum benefit.