Back exercises tend to be the muscle group that most individuals have a hard time with. Because it’s a larger muscle group, it is hard to get good muscle-mind connection. Therefore, I wanted to share the top 5 back exercises, and some tips, that will help you at the gym.
1. Lat Pulldown (overall back):
- Elbows need to travel right by the side of the body, this allows the latissimus dorsi, aka lats, (major back muscle), to take the load.
- Squeeze the shoulder blade before pulling down on the bar. This, like in most exercises, help put majority of the stimulus onto the back. As oppose to the shoulder and arms.
- Final and best tip, through out the movement, try to visualize pulling the bar apart. This greatly engages the muscle fibers to see better results.
2. Seated Cable Rows (middle back):
- Remain sitting straight up during the pull and allow your elbows to travel straight back. This will engage the proper muscle fibers without using momentum to do the work.
- Again squeeze the shoulder blade, to allow the middle back to take the stimulus and not the assisting muscles.
- Because of the seating position, adding more weight than expected can lead to injury. Best way to add intensity is pausing at the top for 1-2 counts.
- This exercise is an isolated exercise, in that it doesn’t recruit other muscle to assist in the movement. Which is a great exercise to target only the back and doesn’t require a lot of weight. Try 10-15lbs to start.
- This exercise is dictated by the body angle and how far back you stand. Best angle to be at is the 45 degree mark to allow the greatest span engagement.
- Once again, squeeze the shoulder blade before making any movement.
4. Hyperextension (lower back):
- Building a stronger lower back is essential to stabilized the torso. Therefore, keep the back flat and core tight at all times. Never arch or round the back, which may lead to injury.
- There is no need for heavy or any weight at all. To get the most out of the exercise, perform a slow controlled movement, and squeeze at the top for about two seconds. Body-weight alone is enough to get results.
- Stay in the tension zone. Do not perform a full 180 with your body. The movement should be from one 45 degree angle to the other.
Pull-ups are the ultimate back workout. Not only because it is a compound exercise, aka multi-muscle exercise, but for aesthetics perspective, it builds a nice tapered v-shape. More importantly tho, the movement allows to build functional strength, which mean it helps with every-day task. I have a whole blog post on tips and tricks here.