Best back exercises for beginners. The back muscles. Often a muscle group is forgotten or neglected. They are muscles that you don’t see directly during training or when you look in a mirror. We often see that more attention is paid to the so-called “glamor muscles”, such as the chest muscles, shoulders, biceps, or triceps.

Believe us when we tell you that you should pay at least as much attention to your back muscles as you do to other muscles, if not more. The back is a large surface, especially if you compare this with the surface of your chest muscles.

There are a lot of muscles and muscle fibers in the back. All these muscle fibers can be loaded and thus stimulated with different types of exercises.

#Best back exercises

When looking at the anatomy of the back, the dorsal muscles can be divided into four different groups. These are the lats , rhomboideus , trapezius and lower back . We have listed the most efficient back exercises, which together target all the different muscle groups and fibers within the back.

It is important to use a good mix of back exercises in your training plan. If you do not do this, you run the risk that certain muscle groups in the back do not receive sufficient attention, which can lead to muscle imbalances.

  1. barbell deadlift
  2. pull up
  3. The barbell is over row
  4. dumbbell row
  5. lat pulldown
  6. Cable seated row
  7. dumbbell shrug

1. Barbell Deadlift

The barbell deadlift is the absolute king when it comes to compound exercises. It’s a full-body exercise that uses muscles throughout the body to lift the weight off the floor.

The deadlift is the most suitable exercise to strengthen the muscle fibers in the lower back. In addition, you place tension on all muscles in the upper back. Because all the muscles in the back are involved in performing the deadlift, it is the absolute number 1 exercise in any back workout.

The barbell deadlift is an exercise that generally requires a lot of energy. We definitely recommend that you place the exercise as far at the beginning of your workout as possible, so that your energy level is as high as possible when doing the exercise.

Need more information about the execution and technique of the deadlift? Check out our complete deadlift guide where you can find all the information about the exercise.

Execution exercise:

  1. Slight bend in the knees
  2. Keep your spine in a straight line throughout the exercise
  3. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on the bar
  4. Make sure the rod is pulled up in a straight line
Barbell Deadlift - back workout dumbbell

2. Pull up

If you want a V-shape in your back muscles, you can’t avoid implementing the pull-up in your back workouts. With the pull up you directly load the lat muscles. These are the muscles that widen the back.

The pull-up is a heavy exercise and can therefore not be performed by everyone. If the pull-up with your own body weight is too heavy, it does not mean that you have to ignore the exercise as a whole. Many gyms have an assisted pull-up/dip machine. In addition, you can simply ask someone to push you up by the ankles during the exercise.

Need more information about the implementation and technique of the pull-up? View our complete pull-up guide in which you can find all information about the exercise.

Execution exercise:

  1. Place your hands on the pull-up bar with an overhand grip, beginning the exercise with your arms fully extended.
  2. Place your hands on the bar at about shoulder width.
  3. Pull your body weight up and bring your chest to the bar, trying to get your chin over the bar.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together when you reach the highest point, then slowly lower your body until you are in the starting position.
Pull up - chest and back workout

3. Barbell over row

The barbell bent-over row is the most suitable exercise to load the back muscles with as heavy a weight as possible. Because it is a compound exercise, muscles in the entire lower back and upper back are loaded.

The bent-over row can be a tricky exercise to master completely, but when you do it can be one of the most effective exercises for building serious muscle mass in the entire back.

Need more information about the performance and technique of the barbell bent-over row? Check out our complete barbell bent-over row guide where you can find all the information about the exercise.

Execution exercise:

  1. Use an overhand grip and place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width on the bar
  2. Keep your knees slightly bent while keeping your entire spine in a completely straight line.
  3. Your upper body, from the lower back to neck, is parallel to the floor.
  4. Pull the weight from your elbows toward your belly button. Consciously tense the muscles in your back as the bar reaches your navel.
Barbell over row, back exercise at home

4. Dumbbell row

The dumbbell row is a very effective exercise for training the lats. The dumbbell row resembles the bent-over row in many ways. However, while doing the dumbbell row, you can rest your body on a bench.

This means you have to focus less on keeping balance and your lower back is much less stressed.

You can perform the dumbbell row with one arm at a time. So it is a unilateral exercise. It is good to use these types of exercises, this prevents imbalances in your muscles. Start with your weaker side and repeat the same number of reps with your stronger side.

Execution exercise:

  1. Place your hand on the pillow of a flat bench and place your knee on the same side on the bench as well.
  2. On the other side, place your foot firmly on the floor and grasp the dumbbell with your free hand. Keep the arm in a fully extended position.
  3. Row the dumbbell up and back while moving your elbow close to your side.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blade together and lower the dumbbell back in a controlled manner to the starting position.
Dumbbell row, home back workout

5. Lat pull down

Just like the pull-up – an absolute bodybuilding favorite – the pull-down is a very effective exercise to train the lat muscles. We often also see variants where the bar is pulled behind the neck.

You’re better off bringing the bar up to the top of the chest. When you do a behind-the-neck variant, you run a risk of shoulder injuries.

It can be very effective to perform the exercise with different hand positions. For example, you can use an overhand grip, as we explain in this example, but also a neutral or underhand grip.

Often a gym has different types of accessories that can be used with lat pulldown and offer the possibility to place your hands in different positions. Take advantage of this!

Need more information about the execution and technique of the lat pulldown? Check out our complete lat pull-down guide where you can find all the information about the exercise.

Execution exercise:

  1. Sit directly under the pull-down bar and place your hands on the bar at shoulder width. Use an overhand grip.
  2. Your arms are fully extended in the starting position. Lean your body back slightly and push your chest forward.
  3. Bring the bar up to your chest and focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together. Slowly return the bar to the starting position.
  4. Tip: The bar does not have to touch the chest. Lower the bar until you feel like your shoulder blades are fully squeezed together.
Lat pull down, wide back workout

6. Cable seated row

The cable seated row is also a suitable exercise to effectively train muscle groups in the entire back. If you want to focus on the lats, use a bar with a narrow grip (hands close together). If you want to focus on the rhomboid, use a lat pull-down bar where you can use a wide grip.

Just like with the lat pulldown, you can use the seated cable row to load all the muscle fibers in the back. Use different accessories so that you can use different hand positions so that you can shift the focus to different muscle groups in the back.

Execution exercise:

  1. In the starting position, your arms are fully extended and your back is in a completely straight position.
  2. You pull the weight back, pushing the elbows back and squeezing the shoulder blades together.
  3. Slowly lower the weight until your arms are fully extended and your body is back in the starting position.
Cable seated row, back exercise gym

7. Dumbbell Shrug

The dumbbell shrug is one of the most popular exercises to train the trapezius – often called traps. The traps run from the top of the back to the neck muscles. The muscles are also visible from the front and are therefore important to train in creating a proportionally muscular back.

The dumbbell shrug – or any other shrug variation – is often a forgotten exercise. Yet it is an important muscle group in the back to training. The muscle group is relatively small, so it needs less training volume.

We definitely recommend planning at least one shrug exercise in your training schedule. This way you can load the traps enough to let them grow.

Execution exercise:

  1. Keep the dumbbells next to your hips with your body completely straight.
  2. Push your shoulders up as far as possible while keeping your arms fully extended. Then lower your shoulders again.
Dumbbell Shrug, back workout gym

Tip: Try to touch your ears with your shoulders (not really natural), this can help you perform the exercise correctly.

#Which best back exercises should I choose?

When you implement the 7 best back exercises just discussed in their entirety in your training schedule, you absolutely have complete coverage of all the different muscle groups in the back. Now it is not the case that we recommend that you do all these exercises on the same day.

Ideally, you train each muscle group twice a week. You could, for example, do this with an upper-lower schedule of 4 days a week or a push-pull legs schedule of 5 or 6 days a week.

Dedicating two training days to the back muscles – in combination with a smaller muscle group such as biceps – gives you ample opportunity to implement all these 7 back exercises in your training schedule! Best back exercises for beginners. Please read our article: back and triceps workout bodybuilding

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