Having a good looking back is something that’s pretty bad ass and looks cool on both men and women. Not only that, there’s also loads of great benefits to our posture and general movement to having a strong back and posterior chain!
But what are the best exercises in order to strengthen and grow that set of muscles that we can’t even see? Here my top ones:
Deadlifts – The deadlift is the big daddy of posterior chain exercises – it works your back, glutes, hamstrings, quads a bit, biceps, core, pretty much everything! There several different variations of the deadlift available to us (Conventional, Sumo, Squat Stance) and all have their various benefits and differences so I always suggest doing the variation that suits you best in terms of your build and how your body moves. Oh, and make sure that you deadlift from blocks/steppers if you have poor mobility.
Rows – Next up is rows and these have even more variations than deadlifts. If you are just starting out then I would generally recommend doing movements with an underhand (Palms facing up) or Neutral (Palms facing in) grip as this will give you a much better squeeze and help keep your form tight. Don’t use a weight that’s too heavy for you too – feel the movement through your back! Different types of rows are:
Barbell Bent Over Row (Overhand and underhand)
Single Arm Row (Dumbbell or Kettlebell)
Inverted Row (Bar or TRX)
Chest Supported (Dumbbells or Kettlebells)
Close Grip/Landmine Row.
Pull Ups/Pulldowns – Pull Ups and Pulldowns are another exercise to use on a regular basis. Again, using a neutral or underhand grip is generally a better way of keeping your form tight and making sure you are doing everything the way your should. These can be:
Pull Ups (Overhand or Neutral Grip)
Lat Pulldown (Underhand, Overhand (Wide or regular) or Neutral Grip)
Shrugs – The Shrug is an exercise which is quite often absolutely butchered in gyms across the world with far too many people using their arms and elbows to pull the weight up and flicking their head forward like a clucking chicken! Instead, lighten the weight, maintain a lean forward to hit the muscle around/in between the shoulder blades and focus on a good squeeze at the top. Can be done in the following ways:
Chest supported/Horizontally with Dumbbells
Yes there are other exercises out there that work the back muscles, but in my experience these are the best way to go for most people.
Here are my top tips for when training your back:
Don’t go too heavy – going too heavy will mean you’ll end up throwing the weight up and not feeling the movement nearly as much as you could.
Take you ego out of it! Play around with using pauses/squeezes at the top of each rep. This will mean that you’ll get a much better contraction in each rep, making the exercise harder without having to increase the weight.
Keep you shoulder blades squeezed in and down as much as you can.When doing pull downs, aim towards your breastbone (Sternum) but don’t touch your chest. The natural range of motion for most people ends at around mid-neck and any lower tends to mean the movement becomes sloppy.
On Single Arm Rows, aim to row towards your pocket instead of your torso.
And there you have it, my top exercises and tips for training and building up your back as best as possible! When I tend to get a new client start with me we will focus a lot on their posterior chain overall, but particularly their back and this massively helps not only their general physique, but their movement and posture too.
Feel like you need help with your weight training? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details on Personal Training and Online Coaching.