Back Workouts

Back Lats Muscles

Back workouts will focus on developing your upper, outer and lower lats, as well as your middle back and lower back.

You can combine different variations of back exercises into your workout, which will look to give you a strong, broad back, and that coveted ‘V shape’.

Sculpting your back will improve your posture, helping you stand taller. You will find your shoulder joints are stronger and more stabilised, and you should be able to bench press more weight. For the majority of back workouts, your arms will also be exercised, helping you get bigger biceps and triceps at the same time too.

Because your back contains some of the biggest muscles, exercising these will also mean more calories are burnt than when exercising smaller muscles elsewhere.

Workout options

There are a large number of exercises you can perform to get a more toned back. Rowing, pull ups and lateral pull downs are all highly effective, as are workouts using dumbbells and barbells.

Below are some dumbbell, barbell and bodyweight exercises to get a bigger back, whilst our weight machines page also has instructions on how to do pull ups, chin ups, and exercises which use weight machines. Our rowing machine page will explain how to correctly use an indoor rower.

How to do:

Press ups

Lying face down on the ground, place your hands slightly out to the sides, in line with your chest, with your arms bent at the elbows. Your legs should be straight, with your feet close together and toes pointed down into the ground.

Extend your arms, pushing against the floor, so your body rises up. This is the starting position.

Keeping your back straight throughout the exercise, bend your arms, lowering your body down until your chest is just above the ground. Once you reach this point, extend your arms again, pushing yourself back up into the starting position and resulting in the completion of one repetition.

Deadlift

Load a barbell with weights and rest it in an open space on the floor. Stand behind it, with the middle of each foot directly underneath the bar, hip width apart.

Bend at the hips, keeping your legs straight and your feet planted firmly on the ground, ready to grasp the barbell. This will help you to keep correct form during the exercise.

Grab the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing back towards your body, as opposed to forwards, away from your body) and straight arms, slightly more than shoulder width apart. Your elbows should never be bent during a deadlift.

Bend at your knees, keeping your back straight, until your shins touch the bar. Make sure that your feet are still firmly planted and don’t shift, in order to keep correct form. You will be in a bit of a ‘half squat’ position, ready to begin the lift. Ensure you keep your chest up throughout the deadlift.

Carefully stand, lifting the barbell. You should bring your hips forward, keeping your chest up and your back straight. The movement from the lift should come from the extension of your knees and your hips. Your hips and shoulders should rise at the same rate during the lift, which ends when you are stood fully upright.

To lower the weight back down, you should reverse the motion. Push your hips backwards with control, and partially squat, lowering the weight carefully back to the floor, with a neutral back throughout. This results in the completion of one repetition.

Bent-over barbell row/dumbbell row

This exercise is very similar to the deadlift, and begins the same way.

Load a barbell with weights and rest it in an open space on the floor. Stand behind it, with the middle of each foot directly underneath the bar, hip width apart.

Bend at the hips, keeping your legs straight and your feet planted firmly on the ground, ready to grasp the barbell. This will help you to keep correct form during the exercise.

Grab the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing back towards your body, as opposed to forwards, away from your body) and straight arms, slightly more than shoulder width apart. Your elbows should never be bent during a deadlift.

Bend at your knees, keeping your back straight, until your shins touch the bar. Make sure that your feet are still firmly planted and don’t shift, in order to keep correct form. You will be in a bit of a ‘half squat’ position, ready to begin the lift. Ensure you keep your chest up throughout the deadlift.

Carefully stand, lifting the barbell. You should bring your hips forward, keeping your chest up and your back straight. The movement from the lift should come from the extension of your knees and your hips. Your hips and shoulders should rise at the same rate during the lift, which ends when you are stood fully upright.

Now that you have reached the fully upright position (essentially having done a deadlift until this point), you will need to slowly bend at the hips again until your torso is about 60 degrees forward from upright. Your arms remain straight, meaning the bar will be held down roughly where your kneecaps are. You are now ready to begin the rowing motion.

Bring your hands towards your hips, driving your elbows back behind you as far as you can safely do so, just like when you use an indoor rowing machine. Your arms will be bent at about 90 degrees at the top of the pull back. When you pull back, you will squeeze your shoulder blades together.

The pull upwards needs to be dynamic, before you pause briefly at the top of the lift. You then lower the bar slowly back down to around your kneecaps, extending your arms again.

You will now have returned to the starting position, resulting in the completion of one repetition. When you lower the barbell back down to your knees, avoid just relaxing too much and letting gravity do most of the work.

Once you have completed your repetitions, squat slightly to lower the barbell slowly back down to the floor, just like you would with the deadlift.

Alternatively you can complete this exercise using a pair of dumbbells, holding one in each hand. The process will be the same, but make sure to keep correct form.

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