The back is a very complex group of muscles. A lot of people generalize and say the lats and the traps when they mean the back, but the entire back is made up of quite a few smaller muscles as well. The complexity has to do with ensuring the spine is supported and allowing movement in so many directions. While people might think of the back as more of a fixed area, it actually has quite a few motions when you consider the shoulder blades, hips, and vertebrae of the spine.
So how can you effectively work all of these areas? First you need to utilize a routine that uses the best back exercises. Next you have to learn how to feel the specific muscles of the back work to help connect your mind more fully to the muscles. Ideally an exercise should be done in a way that allows the lifter to feel the target muscle working more than supporting muscles.
The Top 5 Back Exercises
- Deadlifts – These are the king of all back exercises for a reason. To start you can lift more weight with deadlifts than any of the other lifts. Heavy weight builds strength which is important. A deadlift involves every muscle in your back in one way or another either directly or indirectly. It is primarily going to build the lower back muscles along with strengthening the hips and glutes but the rest of the back comes into play from tension and support.
- Pullups – Many people use pulldowns instead but pullups are the superior exercise. When your body hangs the movement of the pull-up is more natural. The body curves a bit in a way that can’t be matched when the legs are fixed and you pull down. This is a great exercise for the lats and the small muscles around the shoulder blades along with the traps.
- Barbell Rows – This is another great exercise because you can lift heavy weights to build mass and thickness in the middle of the back. Other areas like the lats and traps are worked secondarily.
- Single Dumbbell Rows – For a beginner this might seem a lot like a barbell row but using a single dumbbell changes the motion and the range a bit to activate the muscles differently in a way that allows a better stretch and tighter contraction.
- Close Grip Pulldowns – Many people skip this excellent movement but it can really hit the lower traps and stretch the lats out. The key is to lean back slightly and pull towards your ribs as you contract but then extend and stretch all the way at the top of the motion.
There are a lot of other great back exercises that you can do such as good mornings, pullovers, T-bar rows, and more, but this list is for the best back exercises. This particular group is comprised of staples that you find in everyone’s routines because they are the most effective at building bigger muscles.
So take a good long look at your current back routine. Consider adding these exercises in, perhaps even cycling them in and out. They will help you develop a bigger, stronger back.