One of the most impressive things about a well-built physique is a strong wide back. The Back is a big masculine muscle group, in that it provides that ‘V’ shape so many men look for when building a balanced muscular physique.
The best back exercises for men are often the exercises that many people do not like to do. The reason for this is that they can be challenging.
Generally speaking, training your back and lats is approached from two different perspectives:
One is for thickness, and the other for width.
Both are important for a balanced physique, however it’s really important to look at your back and determine where your focus should be.
The back is a complicated, big and strong body part. The main important thing of back training is to learn how to target and active the major muscles of your back.
I’m going to divide this back-exercise page to three different parts: Lats, traps and teres major.
Vertical pulls such as pullups, chin-ups and Lat pulldowns, are usually better exercises for back’s width. Horizontal movements, rows lie: seated machine rows, one arm dumbbell rows and bent over barbell rows generally are better exercises for back’s thickness. There are also exercises that that work both thickness and wideness of your back.
The best back exercises to build lean muscle are those exercises that build both thickness and width. You need the right combinations to get a well-rounded physique.
Lat exercises are what develops that “V” taper to your torso. To widen your V-taper you want to go with a wider grip and do vertical pulls. Without question this is the number 1 best back workout exercise for width. The advantage with pullups is the incredible amount of variations you can do with this exercise.
For example, you can change your width grip on the bar, you can add weight, you can change your grip, and you can perform them on machines that assist you when starting out. Pullups are also good because you can set up a bar easily enough at home without having to go to the gym. In other words, you can gain muscle without doing weights by doing pullups.
Overhand pullups are great but they are difficult for beginners. Don’t despair if you only can do one or two these and just keep practicing. Set realistic goals to build your strength that you can do more pullups.
One-arm dumbbell row
This exercise places more of emphasis to overall back thickness. The one arm dumbbell row targets the lower part of your lat pretty nicely, as long as you let the dumbbell stretch you completely at the bottom and you keep the dumbbell close to your torso. Avoid turning the exercise into more of a curl by twerking and bending your elbow too much. Use good form and do it slowly.
Traps are a muscle group that takes a huge portion and covers a large are of your back. Face pulls are great because they target many different muscles in your back and is a highly effective exercise. When doing face pulls, you are not only building more muscle to your traps but working your shoulders also. You can externally rotate the shoulders to provide stability to the rotator cuff muscles and improve posture and decrease injury risk.
You can do these at the gym using a rope attachment and a cable machine. Usually most people like to grab the rope palms facing down, but instead, try gripping it from underneath. With a underneath grip you’ll have a larger range of motion and allows for maximum external rotation of your shoulder. Keep your hands above your elbows and pull all the way to the face and imagine like you are trying to pull the rope apart.
Shrugs is an exercise that is designed to target your mid and upper traps and is a one the most effective exercise you can do for your traps. At first, shrugs seems as an exercise where you can just take the bar or dumbbells and lift them up and down. In very rep you are making you need to contract the traps and not just lift your shoulders upwards. Instead of doing just an upward movement try to do it by going up, rotate back and squeeze your back. Don’t go too heavy with the weights, rather go with lighter weights and do the exercise with a full range of motion.
Wide grip lat pulldown
Teres major main function is to assist the lats and it’s kind of small muscle. But, is an important for filling out the thickness of your back. Lat pulldowns with a wide grip is an exercise that targets your teres major nicely. Keep your hands as wide apart as you can on the pulldown bar and really feel the squeeze on the teres major when pulling down.
On the above part I have been talking more about how to target and isolate different parts of your back. I left out few major back exercises on purpose because I wanted to talk about them separately. These are compound exercises that can target your whole back at once and should be core exercises in your workout.
Deadlift is not only an exercise that targets your quads, glutes, abs and hamstrings, but it also hammers mass and thickness onto your upper and mid back. Deadlifts can really eat up your energy fast, and I prefer doing deadlifts first in my workout routine, as my energy is at its highest. Some people prefer doing them the last, because they can eat all your energy so you won’t have energy to do the rest of your workout.
Some people struggle if deadlifts should be done on the same day you do your legs, or on the you do your back workout. In my opinion, it’s really what you prefer most and it’s not wrong to do deadlifts on both days.
Read more about deadlifts here: https://honestmuscles.com/deadlifts
Bent over rows
Another one of my favorite back exercises is the bent over row – a challenging exercise to perform correctly. Compound exercise that targets many different muscles in your back and even the bicep. Great for building upper back thickness, lower back strength and shoulder stability. To avoid that you don’t develop any back problems focus on your form to be as perfect as possible and wear a weight lifting belt if necessary. You need to keep your back straight, keep your knees bent, and pull and squeeze the barbell into your rib cage.
Think about how often in life you have to bend down and pick up something – bent over rows are great to get you into the right lifting habits. It’s one of the best back exercises for building lean muscle and back thickness.
There are multiple variations of these exercises. In my own experience, I have always had a preference for functional basic movements. By this I mean exercises that replicate what it is you do in your daily life, or exercises that enhance those things you do in your life. Back is a major muscle group. Ensure you don’t take short cuts – stick with the basic movements.
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