5 MORE Must-Try Muscle-Building Back Exercises | TRAINING
Last month we gave you our top 5 back exercises written by our very own, Amanda Martin. You may feel like you’ve already got a wide array of exercises available when you plan your workout each week on back day. But that list is only a start.
Back Exercises are IMPORTANT
It's important to train your back muscles, particularly for good posture. If you’re in a job where you are sitting down most of the day, your shoulders may tend to roll forward. If you also enjoy training your chest, but don't train your back as often, this may result in muscle imbalances and can also cause rounding of the shoulders.
And while it’s important to exercise our back muscles, it’s one of the hardest body parts to train. Not only is it energy draining when trained properly, but you also can’t see your back when training, so it’s very hard to engage the required muscles.
Choosing the Right Back Exercises
Here’s something we’ve never mentioned in our previous article about back exercises: research and comparison between back exercises are limited, that’s why it’s difficult to choose the right ones to use for back training. In today’s article, we've put together another list of top 5 mass-building back exercises. However, we’ve included exercises in this list, and Amanda’s, based on studies that determine:
- how much muscle each stimulates
- how difficult each movement is
You’ll get the job done faster if you know which exercises are best for building a wide, thick back. Also, you can figure out where to place each exercise in your workout using this list.
1. Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row
Reason for inclusion on the list: Almost everyone uses the close-grip bar on rows. The wide grip on a lat bar can be a nice change of pace every once in awhile. Plus, it shifts some of the emphasis to the upper lats.
How to add it into your workout: Cables are like machines. They’re best done toward the end of your workout. Make sure to use a weight that enables you to complete about 12 reps max.
However, wide rows mimic some back machines. You have to make sure not to do both in your workout. But if you’re going to make some other kinds of changes, like target rep range or grip, then you can do both. To better target the lower lats, try flipping your grip and going about shoulder-width apart, while your elbows stay tighter to your sides
2. Standing T-Bar Row
Reason for inclusion on the list: To some, this exercise may seem like a bit of cheating through the hips and knees. But we selected it over a chest-supported version because you can add much more weight here. However, if you find it difficult to maintain a flat back while standing, use the supported version instead.
With this exercise, you have a choice of hand width and positions. A neutral grip can better target the middle back (traps, teres, and rhomboids), while a wider grip puts more emphasis on the lats. And compared to other rows, this exercise is probably one of the easier to spot.
How to include it into your workout: Add this exercise toward the front half of your workout. Focus on the stretch and contraction of the back instead of slinging weight around with this movement.
Load up with 25s instead of the 45s if you're an experienced lifter. At the bottom of every rep, allow a slight protraction of the scapula to further increase range of motion. If you do this, before initiating the next pull, be sure to "reset" with a flat back.
3. Single-Arm Smith Machine Row
Reason for inclusion on the list: This exercise is an awesome and a new choice for your lower lats. Basically, it’s a single-arm dumbbell row performed on a Smith machine.
Stand sideways to the machine. Keep your body close to the apparatus. Use a split stance and bent knees for balance as you grasp the bar toward the middle. If your body sways a bit to keep the movement natural as you pull the bar up as high as you can, it’s OK. That’s normal.
How to incorporate it into your workout: You can add this exercise toward the end of your back routine for sets of 10-12 or 8-10. You can use it to replace the single-arm dumbbell row. But make sure not to do both in one workout.
4. Reverse-Grip Smith Machine Row
Reason for inclusion on the list: This exercise targets the lower portion of the lats with the elbows now pulling back close to your sides. Its movements mean the biceps play a greater role. The Smith machine meanwhile, allows you to focus on pulling as much weight as possible, without worrying how to balance yourself.
The truth is, many lifters and fitness enthusiasts find the Smith machine a gym forbidden equipment. However, its ability to control a weight and the fixed plane of its movement can be both a new and humbling exercise. To do the exercise, bend over about 45 degrees and stay close to the bar. Expect a little input from the knees and hips when you're pulling and pushing out the heavy sets.
How to add it into your workout: Do this exercise after your heavy overhand pulls or about midway through your workout. One reverse-grip movement is enough in your routine. You don't need more than one.
Don't be afraid to throw on some wrist straps at any point in your back workout. Don’t be constantly limited by your grip strength. Your goal is to hammer your back and put it through the wringer.
5. Decline Bench Dumbbell Pull-Over
Reason for inclusion on the list: This exercise mimics the straight-arm cable pull-down. Although it’s a single-joint move, it targets and torches your lats. Compared to a using a flat bench, the decline version puts your lats under tension for a longer range of motion.
How to include it into your workout: Single-joint movements are done last in any body-part routine. For a nice finishing pump, keep the reps on the higher end – around 12-15 per set.
If you get overwhelmed by the number of rows you can do on back day, or you don’t know which exercises to try, use can use or add this list to your new back workout plan.
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1. Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load, and stiffness.
2. An electromyographic analysis of sumo and conventional style deadlifts.
3. Electromyographic analysis of three different types of lat pull-down.