Building a strong back isn’t only for those who already train with barbells and dumbells. The fact of the matter is that a strong back will help you live a better and healthier life. Here are some of the reasons:
- You will improve your posture
- You will gain structural integrity and greater stability.
- You will be able to hold and play with your children much easier when your time to be a parent comes.
- You will be stronger in your later years and you won’t need to hold on any additional equipment in order to move.
- You will be able to hold groceries for longer, do housework much easier and generally be better at your everyday activities.
These are just a few general rules that can apply to even a non lifter. If you are training, especially for a sport, then you ought to have a strong back as this is the area when our explosiveness comes from.
With that being said here are the top exercises that can help you build a stronger back, a better posture and overall better looking, capable and healthier body.
The Essential Exercises
The Deadlift is the King of all exercises. While there are many exercises almost equal to the deadlift, this lift builds strength, explosiveness, and powerful neuromuscular patterns unlike any other. When you pull the bar from the ground you activate almost every muscle in your body. This means that by doing the exercise you use your traps, shoulders, lats, lower back, hips, hamstrings, calves, quads, biceps and engage your core building more powerful abs. Your chest and triceps aren’t used as much in a deadlift unless you are pulling some serious weight. Before attempting to do a deadlift you need to learn how to do a proper deadlift. Here is a great article that can help you.
The most well known back exercise around the world are the pull ups. An exercise that engages the whole of your back and relies on bodyweight strength and functionality. The Pull-up is an exercise that can be done using different grips offering the opportunity to create a wider back using the wide grip, thicker inner lats, and traps with the standard parallel pull up, or stronger outer lats, biceps, forearms, and delts with the underhand grip pull up. Either way, if you want a stronger, more complete, thicker back and a more powerful body you need to learn and do all the different variations of the pull ups.
Shoulder presses are a key exercise for building a strong, steady and firm back. This exercise can be done with dumbell or a barbell, standing or sitted. Between each variation, the form of the exercise changes but what stays the same is that you use your back, shoulders, triceps and forearms to push the weight overhead. I invite you to learn to how properly shoulder press by using a bar, starting with the barbell at the top of your chest and pushing the weight overhead with your arms and neck below the bar as shown in the picture below.
Any pulling exercise that involves rowing the weight towards your body is a phenomenal way to create a stronger back. Below are a few exercises done in the gym that can help you strengthen your body, mainly your lower, middle and upper back, traps and lats.
Barbell rows are fantastic back exercise. Mainly because you have to hold your body at a certain angle and pull the weight toward your abdominal area while controlling the movement. This engages every part of your back as well as your legs that hold your body steady. Your biceps and shoulders are engaged as well.
Dumbell Rows are a great exercise to add width, thickness, and of course strength to your back. It’s best when focused on form and contraction while increasing weight to make the exercise harder and make you stronger. While all this pulling will almost definitely give you a bicep pump, make sure you focus on the extension and contraction of the movement.
Low rows are designed to emulate the sport of rowing. This exercise helps to stretch your back, on the negative portion of the movement while contracting the lats traps and scapula. There are many variations depending on the handle you are using.
Remember to keep yourself at a 90-degree angle. Your back should be slightly arched and your chest should be sticking out. You should be feeling a nice stretch on your lats as you hold the bar in front of you. You should only break the form to stretch the back and get a better pulling motion.
In conclusion, it is appropriate to note that this article concentrated mainly on movements labeled as back exercises on the bodybuilding realm.
As always we promote fitness and that results to mention some of the greatest exercises although they may be more advance, will build strength, power, and muscle on your back:
- Olympic Weightlifting: The Clean & Jerk and The Snatch are two of the most explosive and powerful movements any person can learn. What makes them so unique is that they blend the deadlift, squat and overhead into one movement. That is the reason behind their importance but also their complexity. Fortunately, with the rising Crossfit Community people are practising these movements a lot more than in the past.
- Squat: Either you front or back squat, the squat is a movement that by nature when overloaded will result to stronger legs and stronger back. Without a strong back, you won’t be able to hold the weight and you will fail to improve. That’s why squatting is so important in order to see muscular but strength gains as well.
- Bench Press: While Bench Press is essentially a chest exercise, the amount of volume and pressure it generates on your back when you are pressing heavy weight constitutes an important role in shaping and building a stronger scapula, trapezius, and deltoids.
- Handstand: While walking on your hands is really something that most people are unable to do, it is always important to try to exceed your limitations. If you want to learn how to do a handstand and hold the position, try practising at a wall and then on your own without any additional help. Always make sure to stretch and rest to avoid injury as this is an exercise that needs full body coordination, strength, flexibility and repetition. But managing to do a handstand is a clue to knowing that you have a strong back and most importantly an athletic body.
- Muscle Up: The muscle like the handstand is a more advanced movement especially for people who train regularly with weights but have bad flexibility and body coordination. This movement blends the pull-up and the dip into one rigorous movement that uses you whole upper body. To master the muscle up you have to master the previous two movements first and learn how to kip properly in order to use your legs as leverage in order to get yourself a top of the pull-up bar. A good way to create a neuromuscular pathway in order to learn how to kip is to practise hanging toes to bar and hanging leg raises to strengthen your core and activate your lower and upper back coordination.When you are able to muscle up efficiently, you know you have reached a great level of fitness.