In a bodybuilding competition, many will tell you that shows are won from the back. Having an impressive back is crucial for overall power and strength and for bodybuilding in general. Your back consists primarily of your lats, the muscle connecting your armpits to your waist, the traps, the muscle that reaches from your skull to your rhomboids, teres major, teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and rhomboideus. Because the back is such a large group of muscles, it may be difficult to try to isolate certain muscles, so usually sticking with simple, free weight compound exercises may be best to obtain growth. Here is a list of our top 5 exercises to build a huge back.
#1. Barbell Deadlifts
The barbell deadlift is one of the hardest exercises for a beginner to get right. Most people will try to preach for you to lift with your legs and not with your back, which is how a lot of people will still deadlift, but the greatest stimulation you can achieve with this exercise is from your back. To execute, spread your legs about shoulder width apart, slightly bend your legs (you will work your hamstrings a little if you complete a full range of motion) and lift the weight while keeping your back flat. Pivot your hips and keep your chest high to insure you do not create any unnatural bending of the back.
#2. Barbell Rows
These can be done in a variety of ways, including a style made popular by former Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates. The most common way to do it would be to bend your knees and back slightly, while wearing a weight lifting belt if need be to stabilize your core muscles, grab the bar (usually shoulder width or less to get a higher range of motion) and to “row” it up to your waist or around your rib cage. Keeping your back flat will ensure safety. Doing a “Yates” row will allow you to stand straighter up while bringing the bar to around your stomach area.
#3. Pull ups / Chin Ups
Pull ups and chin ups are probably the most commonly used and most convenient exercise to work your back, along with your biceps. You will notice that during different ranges of the exercise you will feel the contraction switch a little between your bicep and your lat. Mind-muscle connection is necessary to achieve a good contraction, so if you are too heavy to do a correct pull up then you’re probably better off using a pull-down machine. Pull ups and chin ups, along with the pull down machine, should be done by slightly leaning back to achieve a good squeeze in your lats. Think about pulling from your elbows and getting a good squeeze at the bottom of the movement to get great back development. The position that you place your hands will determine how much of an emphasis is placed on the biceps. Performing “chin ups” (palms facing towards you) will put more strain on your biceps.
#4. One Arm Dumbbell Rows
The one arm dumbbell rows are excellent on isolating each arm specifically so that you can concentrate more on getting the most out of the set. You may be able to squeeze out a few more reps this way because you’re not using each side simultaneously. To do this exercise, place one knee on a bench and the other leg slanted onto the floor. In between the space, place a dumbbell on the ground. Use the arm closes to the leg touching the floor to grab the dumbbell and row it up to around you ribs. Avoiding a lot of jerking will give you a better contraction in your back. If you’re able to go heavy while maintaining good form, then go ahead if this fits your training style.
#5. Dumbbell/Barbell shrugs for traps
Shrugging usually is used on either the back day or on the shoulder day. I believe the exercise will fit best on your back day if done with the least amount of contraction with the shoulders. By shrugging with strict form, you will feel only your traps taking the load. Building big traps gives you the macho man look that you have no neck. The traps will stick out in your most muscular pose as well as your rear double biceps pose. To perform the shrug, whether it be with dumbbells or a barbell, just hold on to whatever you’re using and shrug as if you were saying “I don’t know” (without tilting your head, of course). Squeezing at the top will give you an excellent contraction that will bring growth.