Strong Back Workout
Building a strong and muscular body is a never-ending trend, yet many forget about the crucial muscle combination – the back – while investing all their resources into abs, shoulders, and arms or as one may call them “the mirror muscles”. Yet the back is the frame of your body. Hitting the weight room and focusing on it will safeguard your shoulders, perk up your posture after years of sitting hunched over at your desk non-stop slapping your keyboard, get rid of any back tightness and occasional painful pangs and on top of that already alluring list of benefits you’ll be able to develop a head-turning rippling-muscles look you’re slaving away at the gym for. Read this article to equip yourself with the essential information about your back and make a mental note of all the ultra-efficient exercises we’ve rounded up for you.
Why do you need to build a strong back?
First of all, there is a myriad of reasons why you should strain your back in your workout routine. In this article we lay out in-depth each and every one of them. Make sure to take a good look!
Reasons To Build A Strong Back
- Strength training is protective against back pain (5)
- Strength training for the upper back was proven to be the best intervention for pain in desk bound office workers (4)
- A strong back helps maintain the proper posture
- The mid back is a common site for osteoporotic fractures, and strength training prevents this (6)
- After the legs, the back muscles are the biggest and strongest in the body, training them expends a lot of energy. In this way, you maintain body composition and blood glucose levels (3)
- Finally, strong back looks extra good. One of us has bought a gym subscription with this goal in mind. Care to throw out a guess who we’re hinting at?
Which muscles does your back consist of?
In order to understand how to sculpt the strong back, you have to grasp which muscles to strain.
Generally, the back can be divided into two parts:
- The lower back, which is primarily involved in lifting, carrying and supporting our lean posture.
- The upper back, providing a foundation for the shoulder girdle and supporting our head and neck.
The muscles you need to be laser focused on are located in these two parts (9).
The latissimus dorsi, broad, fan-shaped muscles are the largest back muscles in your body. The lats attach to the upper arm bone (your humerus) and stretch from your mid-back all the way down to your waist. You use those as main pulling muscles for both horizontal pulls and vertical pulls. Consequently, even if you’re unable to do pull-ups or pushups, you can still train your back.
Teres Major and Teres Minor
These two muscles are tinier, but they help your body perform a number of key functions. The Teres major is known in bodybuilder’s circles as «small helper», indicating the duplication of lats’ movements by this muscle.
The teres minor, in its turn, is the main part of your rotator cuff, as it assists in external rotation of your shoulders. The teres minor plays an immense role in stabilizing your shoulders.
The rhomboids are located in the middle of your upper back. They are thick broad bands of muscle, which border your shoulder blades. Their function is retraction of your shoulder blades, which is a major element of all back training and an important way to make your shoulders safe. If you activate rhomboids more often, you’ll guarantee yourself a stronger back.
Your traps stretch from the base of your neck to just above your tailbone, being divided into three main section: upper, middle, and lower. They assist in shrugging your shoulders, pulling your shoulders backwards away from your chest and pushing your shoulders downward toward your knees.
Pulling, Lifting, and Carrying
There are 3 main actions you are able to perform using your back muscles:
Pulling actions occur when you pull yourself towards something, or something towards you. For example, chin ups, rows and climbing. These movements tend to develop mostly upper back strength by working on the muscles that move the blades of your shoulders, and arms.
Lifting actions are those actions where you pick something up usually from the ground. For instance, deadlifts and power cleans.
Once you have picked something up, you might also carry the object for time or distance. Both lifting and carrying exercises strengthen the lower and upper back by working the muscles that stabilise the spine. They usually develop leg strength as well, so their efficiency is quite high.
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5 best exercises to sculpt the back of your dreams
How it functions: This move strengthens all the posterior chain and is one of the best exercises for working your back top to bottom. Focus on maintaining a neutral spine throughout your deadlift—excessive rounding under a heavy load can cause pain or herniation.
How to Perform: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and with a loaded barbell in front of you. The bar should be close to your shins. Bend at your hips and knees, and grab the bar with an overhand grip, just wider than shoulder width. Straighten your legs as you drive through your heels and raise the bar up along your shins and past your knees. Stand tall, and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Reverse to start. That’s one rep. Complete five sets of five reps.
Machine Back Extensions
How It Functions: This one is a great way to focus on your lower back, developing the muscles that run along and support the spine, which are scientifically labeled as the paraspinal erectors and the quadratus lumborum.
How to Perform: Think of this like a reverse crunch. On a back extension machine, sit, grab the handles, and place your feet on the footrest. Maintaining a neutral spine, slowly extend your hips to straighten the torso. Return to start with control. That’s one rep. Complete four sets of ten reps.
Single-Arm Bench-Supported Dumbbell Row
How it Functions: Moves that work a single side of the body, called unilateral exercises, are crucial for balancing out any asymmetries that may exist. Begin with your nondominant side, which will probably be a little weaker. Then perform the same rep scheme on your dominant side to avoid perpetuating any imbalance.
How to Perform: Hold a dumbbell in your dominant hand, palm facing in. Using a bench, place your nondominant knee on the center of the bench. Your opposite foot should be on the floor, slightly behind the nondominant knee. Place your dominant hand on the bench. Maintain a flat back and keep your elbow close to your side as you row the dumbbell up past your torso. Return to the beginning.That’s one rep. Complete ten reps on one side, then switch to the other side. Repeat for four sets.
How it Functions: This move works by isolating the shoulders and sides of the back while also hitting your triceps. Perform this single-joint exercise at the end of your back workout, when you’re somewhat tired from multi-joint exercises.
How to Perform: Use an adjustable cable machine or a set of resistance bands with handles attached to a fixed point. Grab onto the handles with an overhand grip, arms must be shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart as well, knees slightly bent. With straight arms, pull the bar down to your thighs. Return to start. That’s one rep. Complete three sets of 15 reps.
The Renegade Row
How it Functions: The renegade row focuses on maximizing the utility of a position to the highest degree. It takes the key moves – plank and push-up, and makes them even more useful by adding more elements to work different muscle groups. It is recommended to work with the light dumbbell in order to maintain proper spinal position (10).
How to Perform: Grab a pair of light dumbbells and about as much space as you would need to perform push-ups. Get in a plank position with your feet spread wide, and grip the dumbbells with your palms facing parallel to each other. Squeeze your glutes and core to maintain a strong spinal alignment, while looking at the floor ahead of you. Use your lats to row one of the dumbbells to chest height, then return the weight to the ground, keeping the rest of your body balanced in its position. Control the load up and down the movement — if you have to contort your body and shift your back to lift the dumbbells, drop down to a lower weight. Perform a push-up, maintaining spinal alignment, and repeat the motion with the opposite arm.
Tips for your workout routine:
How Often to Train:
Like all muscles in your body, you can train your back up to three non-consecutive days a week (7). If you’re lifting heavy weights, enough that you can only complete six to eight repetitions, you’ll need a couple of days to rest before you perform the exercise again. In this case, working on your back one or two days a week will be just right for you.
However, if you’re aiming to gain endurance and strength, stick with one to three sets of 12-16 repetitions lifting a weight that fatigues your muscle in that rep range. If this is the case, make sure you rest at least for a day before performing the exercise again. Doing more and not allowing your body to heal after workouts might cause overtraining, which will eventually negate any training gains you made, and impede further development.
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Sometimes your huge ego can kill the effectiveness of your training. Perhaps one of the most important axioms of back training, and any training in general, is the usage of precisely the weight you can actually handle.
If you are training your back and swinging your body on every rep with horrible form then you are using way to much weight with your exercises. In case when your back gets rounded on deadlifts, rows, or any of the lifts for your back you should lower the weight. If you have to throw your entire body into each lift then you are using too much weight. Yes, once you hit a certain weight with things, like barbell rows, you can’t help but swing a little but keep it too a minimum.
If you are dealing with any of this then you need to lower the weight you are using on your back exercises (1). That is probably the main reason why people can’t feel their back muscles’ improvement. Lifting the weight and really feeling your back on each rep even if you do not feel like you’re putting in an all-out effort will immensely help your back training.
Variety is key
There are tons of exercises for strong back to choose from, but when putting together exercises for your workout, try to include diverse movements requiring different grips and angles of pull relative to your torso. Bent-over rows, standing machine rows, and T-bar rows pull at the same basic angle relative to your body, so think about doing one with an overhand grip and another with a closer or reverse grip.
The similar “change your grip” strategy works with seated cable rows and machine rows. Opt for a long lat bar and do a wide, overhand grip with the seated cable movement if you’re going to use a close grip on a machine.
Prepare before your workout
First of all, warm up properly. Just like in every other body part the muscles have to be primed in order to work (2). Simply twisting or doing hands to toes a couple of times will not cut it when getting your back ready for a rigorous workout. That’s why you need to do cardio and stretching before you start.
Walking is perfect for cardio, so get on the treadmill for about 10 minutes to loosen up the lower back. When that light sweat is starting to come out you know that your internal body temperature is higher and the muscles are starting to heat up. Then, do some stretching.
An amazing way to stretch is from a chinning bar or hold on to a fixed object and pull on the lats slowly. Slowly pull and feel the latissimus dorsi muscles stretch. It is also important to have your hamstrings properly warmed up and stretched as well, so get on the floor and do some hamstring stretches. After 5-10 of stretching, you’re ready to go sculpting your strong back!
To sum up, working to build your strong back up is an essential part of every workout routine. Remember to follow a protein (8), and fiber-rich diet like Mediterranean or Pescatarian to crank up your results. Proteins repair damaged tissue, fortify your bones, relieve muscle soreness, and curb hunger, while high-fiber foods improve your digestion and help lose weight. You can opt for powders and snacks, yet there are lots of natural good proteins out there like tofu or seafood, just avoid red meat, as it might lead to diabetes and heart disease. Last but not least, keep your water intake high both before and after high physical activity. It will amp up your metabolism and help form the armoured muscled frame you’re craving for.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 6 Training Tips That Will Build Your Back! (2019, bodybuilding.com)
- 18 Laws Of Back Training (2015, bodybuilding.com)
- Effects of Different Modes of Exercise Training on Glucose Control and Risk Factors for Complications in Type 2 Diabetic Patients (2006, care.diabetesjournals.org)
- Effects of stretching exercise training and ergonomic modifications on musculoskeletal discomforts of office workers: a randomized controlled trial (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Exercise for the Prevention of Low Back Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials (2017, academic.oup.com)
- Heavy Resistance Training Is Safe and Improves Bone, Function, and Stature in Postmenopausal Women With Low to Very Low Bone Mass: Novel Early Findings From the LIFTMOR Trial (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How to Develop an Effective Back Workout (2019, verywellfit.com)
- Optimizing Protein Intake in Adults: Interpretation and Application of the Recommended Dietary Allowance Compared with the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- The Best Moves to Build a Strong Back (2019, menshealth.com)
- The 15 Best Exercises to Build Your Back (2018, menshealth.com)