Back workout: 8 Best and must have back muscle building exercises

Often people ignore their back workout and focus more on other body parts like shoulders, chest, arms and abs, as these parts are more visible. But this is a big mistake. Back workout is extremely important, as back is the main muscle that supports the entire body and gives your upper body a perfect balanced look.

Seen people with v-shaped upper body having huge shoulders and chiseled ripped torso? These people have definitely worked upon on their back with appropriate exercises to build that mass and strength. The back exercises also help in growing bigger biceps and overall arm muscles.

Now, when it comes to back exercises, there are many that you can do. However, the exercises that top the list and benefits you the most in achieving big and strong back muscle are listed below.

1.Pullups or chinups

This is the best workout for lats. Pullups when done consistently, make your lats grow big and strong and gives you the v-shaped torso look.

The form plays the major role here – ensure you are not pulling through your biceps, use your lats to go up and squeeze them to get the burn. Hold the upright position to get max benefit. The grip should be shoulder width or slightly wider.

When starting new with this exercise, go for assisted chinups (where weight lifted is less than your body weight). Once your lats are stronger and you have developed a good form, switch to pullups.

This is an unsupported movement hence most effective and should be done at the starting of your workout.

Do 3-4 sets with 12-15 reps each (if this is the first exercise, perform 1-2 warm up sets as well).

2.Lat pull down

Despite being a machine exercise, this also offers a great workout for building lat muscles. Here again, the form should be such that you are pulling using your lat muscles and not biceps.

There could be few different grips for pulldown movement – wide grip lat pulldown, underhand grip lat pulldown, close grip lat pulldown.

In every grip make sure your sitting posture is right – torso tight, chest out and hand on the grip handles tightly. Focus to pull your shoulders back and down slowly with your lats, hold the position close to your chest for a moment and then go up all the way, again slowly, to stretch the entire lat muscles. Remember, the contraction is very important to get the exact benefit of the exercise.

Perform 4-5 sets with 12-15 reps in each set. The last sets could be done with fewer reps, keeping the weight to maximum.

3.Bent-over barbell rowing

This unsupported movement is a great exercise for your lower lats and middle back too. This helps to build a strong back as it allows to pull really heavy weights. The movement is important, as the back should contract perfectly to help building big muscle and not to forget burning more calories.

The form-Take a underhand grip on the barbell (a little wider than shoulder width), bend your upper body so it becomes parallel to the floor, keep your chest out, bend your knees and then pull the bar upto your mid abs and squeeze the shoulders. Wait for a moment, slowly come down and repeat the movement.

Since the focus here is to pull heavy weight, perform last few sets with less reps and max weight. This exercise is best done at the start of the back workout, for simple reason it allows you pull heavy weights.

Beginners can start with rowing on smith machine, since it provides support to your body and you can focus more on the movement.

4.Seated cable rows

This movement works on your upper back and middle section too. The workout allows to pull heavy weights, which makes it a great muscle building exercise. Also, you can cover better range in this movement.

Keep your chest out, shoulders up and torso straight. Ensure your torso is not moving while performing the exercise. Slowly move the handle close to your upper abs, take a pause then slowly go back to starting position.

You should perform 4-5 sets. Keep the weight heavy and reps ranging from 12 in initial sets down to 8 in later sets.

Being supported movement, this can be done during the second half of your workout.

5.Seated rows on machine

This is a supported movement, but extremely effective as the form is easier to maintain while seated on machine. If you can hold the contraction for a moment, the effectiveness of this exercise is unmatched with other rowing forms.

This exercise also allows greater range of motion when performed unilaterally (each side works independently). The unilateral motion also helps in strengthening the weak side. This exercise is to build muscle mass on upper back portion.

Even though this is a supported movement, it is a must on the list because of the benefits stated above.

6.Single arm dumbbell rowing

This again is a unilateral exercise, so allows better range of motion and can strengthen your weak side. Also, involves your core. However, the challenge is to get the form correct here, as it looks difficult to the beginners.

The form-Bend one knee on the bench, keep the same side hand also on bench for support and the other leg on ground. Bend your upper body making it parallel to the bench. Keeping your torso tight and chest up, pull the dumbbell to the side such that you feel the contraction in your upper back. Remember, do not pull the dumbbell to your chest, that is incorrect. During entire movement, keep your back tight.


This unsupported movement is the king of all back exercises, as it involves the entire back – upper, middle, lower and also the traps. This also helps in strengthening the overall bone structure.

Not to mention, correct technique is the most important part here. But once you get it right, you can lift really heavy weights. Your back should not round during the movement.

This should ideally be done at the starting of the workout so you can lift heavy weights to engage max muscle mass. In this case, 1-2 warm-up sets should be done before you hit the sets with max weights and fewer reps (5-7 reps). If you are planning to do deadlift towards the end of your workout, you may have to compromise on weight lifted.


This unsupported movement involves the traps. This exercise can easily make you feel happy, as you can pull really heavy weights here. You can perform either with dumbbell or with barbell.

The form-stand with your back straight, chest out, torso tight, pull your shoulders up, contract the traps and hold the squeeze for 1-2 secs and come down slowly.

Keep the sets to 3 or 4, and reps between 15-20.

Readers should also go through another article about how to do full body workout in just 30 minutes.

Also recommended – basic-questions-confusions-gym-beginners

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