This article contains 17 back exercises that will help you grow a big back. Every section of your back is covered throughout these exercises, and you will see a video reference of how to do each back exercise below!
First up let’s dive into “7 Back Exercises that grow your back fast” and you can see the entire youtube video above breaking down each exercise above.
I’ve always struggled to grow my back, and the best thing that has helped me is implementing a lot of variety with my pull workouts so I can target every muscle fiber in my back. You can see on the picture below that the hard work has finally paid off, and I want the same for you!
The back anatomy is unique in the sense that there are several large muscle groups.
The muscles that are the most superficial that you will want to target or aesthetic bodybuilding are theLatissimus dorsi, trapezius, teres major, rhomboids, and lower back.
You can see the teres major muscle is a really underrated muscle that gives the upper back some width, and is essential for aesthetic bodybuilding. Developing your Teres major along with your Latissimus dorsi will help make your waist look smaller and you will see many of these back exercises directly target this area.
Exercise 1/7 – Single Arm Barbell Row Targets: Lats, Rhomboids
Form Tips: Pull with your elbows Explosive concentric and slow eccentric Weight back on your heels for stability Try to keep your chest up and don’t let it dip
Sets: 2 Reps: 8-10 each side Rest time: 90 Seconds
Exercise 2/7 – Bent over underhand row Targets: Lats, Rhomboids
Form Tips: Pull with your elbows Explosive concentric and slow eccentric Weight back on your heels for stability Pull into your belly button Grip is about shoulder width apart
Sets: 2 Reps: 8-10 Rest time: 90 Seconds
Exercise 3/7 – Static Hold Pullups Targets: Lats, Rhomboids
Form Tips: Wide grip position Hold the pull-up at peak contracted state Go down as slow as possible when you hit failure Focus on your mind-muscle connection as you hold
Sets: 2 Reps: 30 seconds time under tension + slow eccentric Rest time: 45 Seconds
Exercise 4/7 – Pendlay Row Targets: Lower back, Lats, Rhomboids, Traps
Form Tips: Start from the ground like a deadlift Pull with your elbows Explosive concentric and slow eccentric Weight back on your heels for stability Pull into your belly button Grip is overhand on this movement
Sets: 2 Reps: 8-10 Rest time: 90 Seconds
Exercise 5/7 – Iso lat pullins Targets: Teres Major, Lats
Form Tips: Pull with your elbows. Get a full stretch on the eccentric portion. Focus on squeezing the lats at the top
Sets: 2 Reps: 45 seconds time under tension Rest time: 60 Seconds
Exercise: 6/7 -Cable Shrugs Targets: Traps
Form Tips: Grip is outside shoulder width Start off leaning away from the cable machine Focus on squeezing traps at the top of each rep Don’t ego lift on this, squeeze and activate
Sets: 2 Reps: 8-10 until failure, drop weight 30% and do another 8-10 reps Rest time: 75 Seconds
Exercise 7/7 – Dead hang hyperextension Targets: Lower Back
Form Tips: Initiate movement with your lower back Let arms hang freely as you hold the weight Squeeze at the top and feel the activation Do this exercise 2-3 times per week Don’t neglect your lower back!
Sets: 2 Reps: 12-15 Rest time: 90 Seconds
Thought we were done? Here are 10 more back exercises for growing your back fast! For the best results make sure that you train your back at least twice per week with 10-15 sets per week.
While you may not see these back muscles that much, make no mistake, others will. You want to leave an impression when you walk away.
Not to mention, building a strong back helps you build a good foundation for not only other exercises you might perform, but day to day life as well. So many people complain of back pain as they grow older, but if you’ve done the time in the gym in your younger years now, when you do hit old age, you?ll be able to keep up with your active lifestyle.
Building a great back requires you focus on both back thickness as well as width. These top 10 back exercises help you accomplish both. Get a good mix in your workout program and it won’t be long before you’re seeing amazing results.
Underhand Grip Lat Pull Down
When most guys hit the pull-down station, they prefer to immediately go to overhand grip variations. It’s time to mix it up. Instead, opt for an underhand grip lat pull-down, which will target both your lats and rhomboids especially, while also hitting the biceps to a degree as well.
The key secret to performing these for maximum results is keeping your hands closer than shoulder width apart and controlling the weight on the eccentric portion. If you feel you can’t control the weight, lighten the load.
Often it’s far better to go lighter and really feel that mind-muscle connection than go heavy and use every muscle in the body to help you move that load.
Close Grip Weighted Pull-Ups
Here’s another good one for your lats: the close grip weighted pull-up will help you put maximum emphasis on the upper back, especially in the mid region and while also helping to increase back width as well.
When doing this exercise, be sure to think of contracting from the lats up. Many people use their arms to bring the body upwards, which does benefit you, but not in the manner you’re hoping for here.
Again, the mind-muscle connection is key.
If you can do more than a couple of these back exercises without an issue, try and hold the position at the top of the movement for a few seconds. This will add extra stress to the muscles, helping to jump-start the progress you make. It will also completely eliminate the risk of you using momentum, which is a common issue in this exercise.
Underhand Grip Barbell Row
To really dial in on your lats and mid-back, the underhand grip barbell rows is a superior choice. The nice thing with this is that when using the underhand grip, you?ll really be able to feel the squeeze in the center of the back, targeting all those muscles maximally.
Note that in order to really feel that squeeze however, you are going to have to ensure you row the weight up fully, using the full range of motion. If you can’t feel the squeeze, re-assess your form.
Too many swing the weight upwards, not using the range of motion they should and let momentum drive the movement pattern.
It’s also important when in this position that you keep the back flat as well, never rounding or arcing it, which would just place unnecessary stress on the back and could set you up for injury.
Underhand Grip Seated Row
Moving on to the next underhand exercise that will make your back muscles explode with proper training is the underhand grip seated row. Many guys often wonder whether the seated row or bent over row is the superior choice but the truth is they both have their advantages. You can often pull more weight with a bent over row, however with the seated row, you can achieve a deeper range of motion, really getting maximum strength on the muscle fibers.
This too is a key component in evoking the muscle growth process, so ideally you want to get both in your workout routine.
When doing the underhand-seated row, go lighter so you can use that full stretch principle and move through the full range of motion.
Watch that you are doing the movement pattern using your back muscles and not just driving the weight back by leaning back. This is a common mistake that will significantly reduce your potential gains.
Feel free to alter your grip width over time to target different regions of your back. You might use a close grip one session to hit the mid back more and the next day, opt for a wide grip to maximize width better.
Wide Grip Pull-Ups
Speaking of wide grip, no article on the 10 best back exercises would be complete without mention of wide grip pull-ups. Pull-ups really are the gold standard of back exercises for many men because they show off impressive strength and are a foundational lift to really get your back growing.
It’s all fine to hoist big weight with barbells and dumbbells but if you can’t do a basic pull-up, you have work to do.
The wide grip pull-up is great for hitting your entire back region, so you?ll get maximum muscle stimulation here. Just like with any pull-up, ensuring that you aren’t swinging the legs up but rather keeping the body in as stationary of a position as possible.
Once you get to a point of being able to do 10 pull-ups, add some weight to this exercise to make it more challenging. You can do so by either wearing a weighted vest or attaching weight to your body with a weight belt.
Lower Back Hyperextension
The lower back hyperextension can be performed by holding a plate, which is very common or how I prefer to do it by holding a barbell with both hands. By using a barbell instead of a plate, you put less stress on the neck and are still able to maximize the amount of resistance that you use.
Be sure to move through the full range of motion, lowering the body down and then raising back up as you complete this exercise. Slow and steady is key and if you can, hold the position at the top of the exercise for a brief second to ensure peak muscular tension is reached. You want every single one of those muscle fibers firing up.
If you’re a beginner, this one can also be done with bodyweight only.
Dumbbell 1 Arm Row
In addition to having the regular barbell row in your plan, also consider incorporating the single arm dumbbell bent over row as well. These are great because they allow you to devote all your focus to just a single arm at a time, which is going to help prevent any unwanted muscular imbalances from forming.
Additionally, because all your strength and nervous system output is going towards just one side, you can typically lift more weight as well.
When doing this muscle exercise, it’s important that you focus on keeping your elbow locked in and move through the movement pattern using a very slow and controlled motion. Really focus on squeezing the muscles during the eccentric to maximize progress.
The barbell deadlift is classically thought of as a leg builder, but don’t forget it’s also amazing for building a killer back as well. If you want that wide, powerful look, deadlifts need to be in your game plan.
Because this is such a key mass builder for the body, you?ll want to perform it early on in your workout routine, devoting as much effort to it as possible. Do it later on in the workout and you simply won’t have the ?juice? left to lift heavy and maximize your gains.
Good form on this move is a must, so if you aren’t quite sure how to do it using good form, be sure to get help in person from a trained professional. Sometimes with a technical exercise like this, having that in person assistance is key.
If you need a break from regular pull-ups, chin-ups can be an excellent alternative. The grip position on this exercise is reversed, so you?ll stimulate the muscles in a different manner and this will lead to more emphasis being placed on the biceps rather than strictly the back.
You?ll still get great lat and upper back activation with this exercise however, so don’t think you?ll be shunned in those areas. You can still most definitely use this as a powerful back builder.
As you perform this move, again, keep the body as stationary as possible, avoiding swinging it back and forth as you do your reps.
If you can do more than 10 reps, here again, try adding some weight to make it more challenging.
Close Grip Seated Row
Lastly you have the close grip seated row. This is perfect for hitting the mid-back while also targeting your lats and will help you really zone in on the mind-muscle connection.
If you want to boost the intensity of this move even further, after doing your first set, drop the weight by 30% and then do a mirror rep set by doing a second for 8-10 reps.
This will finish the muscles off and is an excellent way to end your back exercises routine. Check out our other muscle exercises if you liked these.
LINKS TO RESEARCH STUDY’S:
Voluntary increase in latissimus dorsi muscle activity during the lat pull-down following expert instruction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1…
Variations in muscle activation levels during traditional latissimus dorsi weight training exercises: An experimental study. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti…
Effects of grip width on muscle strength and activation in the lat pull-down. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2…
Grip width and forearm orientation effects on muscle activity during the lat pull-down. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2…
Electromyographic analysis of three different types of lat pull-down. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1…
I’m Troy and I’m the creator of SuperHuman You and Co-Founder of Alpha Lion.
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