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Best Back Exercises: Upper Back, Lower Back, & Tips

best back exercises

Best Back Exercises

When you engage in strength training, back exercises are essential. Strong back muscles provide an excellent support for your spine and neck. They take a significant amount of pressure off of your spinal discs and joints. The back muscles also balance the two sides of your body, so that they’re symmetrical. Whether you’re a serious weightlifter or someone who is just going to the gym to become more attractive, you really have to work out your back muscles.5, 3

The most important back muscles to develop are the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and traps.5 These muscles generally do not get a lot of use during the day, so you have to specifically train them for strength. If you engage in these exercises regularly, it will do a lot to prevent an injury to your back or neck. These exercises will also reduce pain if you do get injured, because they stimulate the release of endorphins into the body. They also contribute to lifting your mood.5

There are several other advantages to having a sturdy back. It helps you keep good posture, because you’ve strengthened your weak areas with exercise. It will certainly alleviate any stiffness in your back and improve your mobility. Back strengthening exercises will also reduce back fat and improve your circulation, which leads to better nutrient distribution in the body.5

It’s quite common for people to do back exercises because they want to appear more attractive. The hallmark of a strong back is that V-shape you get when the muscles are really firm. This shape is considered by most people to be very appealing and attractive.3 It is important to note that fitness enthusiasts also tend to have a diet and supplement regimen. This includes healthy, nutrient dense foods and supplements that support health and well-being like multivitamins, pre and post workouts, and testosterone support products like HexoFire Delta Prime.

Upper Back Exercises: Top 3

For those who have a lot of experience with back exercises and who may want to compete, it’s best to separate upper and lower back exercises. Beginners should consider doing exercises that target both sets of muscles at once. Here are some of the most popular exercises for the upper back.

Pull Ups 1

Good for: Upper lats and rhomboids

    • Grab onto the bar using an overhand grip.
    • Spread your hands widely, past your shoulders.
    • Start to lift your ribcage up, initially without bending your arms.
    • Pull yourself up while leaning a little backwards and arching your back.
    • Keep pulling until the bar touches your upper chest.
    • Slowly lower the bar.

Chin Ups 1

Good for: Back and whole upper body

    • Grab the bar with an underhand grip.
    • At the start, keep your arms straight and your shoulders stable.
    • Drop your shoulder blades and pull yourself up towards the bar.
    • Ideally, your chin should reach above the bar.
    • Arch your back to open up the lats.
    • Slowly lower yourself to the ground, then drop your ribcage at the shoulders.

Close Grip Pulldowns 1

This exercise requires the pulldown machine.

Good for: Latissimus Dorsi

    • Sit in the machine to begin, with your hips up against the pads.
    • Grab on to the bar using an underhand grip.
    • Arch your lower back a little and push your chest forward slightly.
    • Pull the bar towards your lower chest, leaning backwards a bit.
    • Raise your chest to meet the bar.
    • At the conclusion, squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Lower Back Exercises: Top 3

Lower back exercises will help to alleviate lower back pain, if that’s an issue. They also help support your spine and pelvis. Here are some of the best lower back exercises.3

Barbell Deadlifts 1

This is one of the most effective exercises in general, besides the fact that it activates your lower back.

Good for: Overall body strength

    • Stand in front of the barbell with your feet about a foot apart.
    • Bend down so your shins touch the barbell.
    • Grab onto the barbell using a double-overhand grip (palms facing backwards)
    • Keep your back straight and bend your legs at 90 degrees
    • Start to slowly stand up. Straighten your back when the bar is past your knees.
    • Make sure to keep the barbell close to your body.
    • Gradually lower the barbell.

Good Mornings 4

Good for: Spine, hamstrings, glutes

    • This exercise requires a bar which is suitable for someone who is your height.
    • Add weights to it according to your ability.
    • Stand underneath the bar, pressing the back of your shoulders against it.
    • Grab it with both hands.
    • In order to effectively lift, push using your legs while standing up straight.
    • Move back from the rack and stand with your legs comfortably apart.
    • Bend your hips until your torso is parallel with the ground.
    • Move your torso back to the original position.

Hyperextensions 4

Good for: Glutes and hamstrings

    • This exercise requires a hyperextension bench, which you lie on, face down.
    • Keep your body straight and lie with your arms crossed in front.
    • With your back straight, gradually bend at the waist until you feel your hamstrings stretch.
    • Keeping your back as it is, raise your body back up.

top exercises for upper and lower back

Can You Do Back Exercises at Home?

It’s more difficult to develop a strong back at home without equipment, but in no way should that stop you. There are many exercises that you can do at home to strengthen your back muscles that require no equipment whatsoever. There are others where you can use a dumbbell to do some simple back strengthening. For certain exercises like the inverted row that do require hanging onto a bar, you may improvise with items you have at home. For example, you can use a table that is very stable and hold on to the edge.2

Tips for Doing Back Exercises

Back exercises are essential for maintaining correct balance and posture, and to support your spine and neck. In order for the exercises to be effective, they must be done using the proper form. Here are some additional tips that will help you to maximize your back workout.

    • Warm up your muscles adequately before your training.
    • Don’t expect your muscles to become huge right away. It will happen gradually, so keep at your exercises and be patient.
    • Make sure you are fully engaging your back muscles while doing the exercises.
    • Keep your back straight. A rounded back while doing these exercises is much less effective.
    • Follow the proper diet for bodybuilding. The recommended nutritional plan for bodybuilders is 55-60% from carbs, 25-30 from protein, and 15-20% from fat.6
    • Don’t overdo it when it comes to the weights. Lift what you’re capable of lifting at the moment. If you try to do more than that you risk injuring yourself.
    • Work with a trainer or an experienced weight trainer to make sure you’re using the correct form.
    • Don’t turn your head to the side, as it will ruin your form and could cause injury.
Research Cited
  • 1BetterU (2018) Back Exercises. Fitstep. Retrieved at View Reference
  • 2Casselbury, K. (February 2019). At Home Back Exercises. Sports Rec. Retrieved at View Reference
  • 3Cespedes, Andrea (January 2018). What Are the Benefits of Back Exercises? Livestrong.com. Retrieved at View Reference
  • 4Edip, M. (2019). 3 Exercises for a Strong Lower Back. Muscle & Fitness. Retrieved at View Reference
  • 5Gopez, J. (2017). Exercise and Back Pain. Spine-health. Retrieved at View Reference
  • 6Lambert, C.P., Frank, L.L., Evans, W.J. (2004). Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding. Sports Medicine, 34(5), 317-327. Retrieved at View Reference