Back Exercises - Workouts

The back is often seen as one muscle group. However, this muscle group is so large that it can be useful to divide it further into muscle groups. Below you will find an overview of exercises that are very suitable for this and we explain how you can best combine these exercises.

  1. Barbell row
  2. Deadlift
  3. Pull-ups
  4. Lat pulldown

The bent-over barbell row, also known as the bent-over row or barbell row. This compound exercise should be a fixed value during your back, pull, or upper body training.

The exercise is mainly used by bodybuilders to build muscle mass and strength in the back muscles, biceps, and core. The exercise is also popular among strength trainers and is often used to indirectly improve exercises such as the squat, deadlift, and bench press. back exercises for beginners

Barbell row

Back exercises for beginners. Nowadays there are all kinds of "row" variations on the barbell bent-over row. Dumbbell rows, t-bar rows, machine rows, and many other rowing exercises are used to train the back.

If you could only choose one exercise for your back, it should definitely be the barbell over row. The compound exercise activates muscles throughout your body, with the focus on the lats.

A disadvantage of the barbell row is that it can take a little longer before you fully master the fitness exercise. You use muscles all over your body when performing the exercise, which generally makes the technique more difficult than with an isolation exercise such as the machine row. You will have to pay attention to many things at the same time. 

What exactly should you pay attention to? This is what we're going to tell you!

Hand placement: overhand or underhand?

You can perform the barbell row in two different ways, with an underhand or overhand grip. Both variants are effective, one is no better than the other.

The overhand grip is the most commonly used. When using this grip it is often easier to get a mental connection with the lats. This ensures that lats are the primary muscle group that is trained, the biceps play a secondary role.

We often hear from people that they have trouble feeling and tightening the lats during the barbell row. Using an underhand grip can help with this, this variant makes it easier for many people to consciously squeeze the lats together. In most cases, using an underhand grip ensures that the biceps play a greater role in doing the exercise.

Still unsure between the two variations? Try both and go for the grip you feel most comfortable with. Both variants work great for training the back.

Back Workouts, Image:infofitness.nl


Carrying the barbell is over row

The barbell bent-over row can be a tricky exercise to perform and improve on. To give you a hand, we walk through the exercise from start to finish using five clear steps.

  • Lift the barbell until you are fully upright with the weight in your hands and hold it with an overhand grip.
  • Lean forward with your torso until it is roughly parallel to the floor, or not before.
  • From this position, pull the weight from your elbows to your navel, squeezing the shoulder blades together as the barbell reaches your navel.
  • Then slowly lower the weight while keeping your upper body in the same position.
  • Repeat the movement until the desired number of reps of the set is achieved.

Tip: If you find it difficult to keep your upper body parallel to the floor, try lowering the weight a bit.

Helpful Tips

Okay, now we know how to perform the bent-over row effectively. We still notice that, with this knowledge, the exercise remains very difficult. We have listed several tips that are useful when performing the exercise correctly.

Do not use momentum to move the weight. Try to control the barbell throughout the rep.

Imagine your hands are hooks and focus on lifting from the elbows. This helps prevent the exercise from being taken over by the biceps.

Try performing the exercise with a power lift belt. This way you prevent the lower back from getting tired before your lats do.

Most Common Beginner Mistakes

There is a lot involved incorrectly performing the barbell bent-over row, as with all compound exercises. Muscles throughout the body have to work together in the right way at the same time if you want to perform the exercise perfectly.

We can tell you right away, this does not happen after the first time, nor after the fifth time, you try the exercise. Practice makes perfect and that is certainly the case with the barbell bent-over row.

However, several common mistakes are made among beginners, but also advanced weightlifters. Many of these mistakes are easy to avoid. We tell you which mistakes we still see and how you can easily prevent them!

1. No hollow lower back

As with the deadlift, keeping a hollow lower back is very important when you are bending over with a heavyweight in your hands. If you do have a curve in your lower back during the exercise, you run a great risk of annoying injuries.

Do you have trouble creating a hollow lower back? Try to push your chest up without moving the rest of your torso up. By doing this consciously you will notice that the lower back comes into a neutral position.

2. Turn the row into a curl

Definitely don't try to curl the weight! If you notice that your biceps get tired before your back, it may be that your arms are bent too much.

Make sure to keep your forearms in the same position all the time. Only the upper arms move as you perform the exercise. Furthermore, the rest of your body remains in the same position all the time.

3. Getting up on the pull

As we said; the upper body is parallel or nearly parallel to the floor. Try not to change this even when you pull the weight up.

Do you notice your upper body moving upward when you pull the weight toward you? Then that is a strong indicator that the weight you are using is too heavy for your lower back. Lowering the weight or wearing a power lift belt can help in this situation.

Safety and Precautions

We've discussed some common mistakes that carry injury risks. We have also discussed the ideal implementation and given several tips that can help you with this.

If you want to reduce the risk of injury, you can take some precautions. The main ones are:

  • Make sure that your lower back is constantly in a neutral position so that there is no curve in the lower back.
  • Wearing a power lift belt can provide extra support to the lower back and reduce the risk of injury.
  • Reduce the weight when you notice that you can no longer keep your upper body parallel to the floor.
  • The barbell bent-over row is a compound exercise in which muscles throughout the body are put to work. Make sure your whole body is warmed up properly and do enough warm-up sets before you start your work sets.

Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the more effective exercises for building muscle mass and strength throughout your body. Because it's a compound exercise, muscles and stabilizers throughout your body have to work hard to lift the weight.

The deadlift can provide you with many benefits, but the exercise is often seen as injury-prone, or even dangerous. This doesn't have to be the case, as long as you know how to perform the exercise correctly and safely and what to watch out for. This is what we're going to tell you!

Deadlift Variations

The deadlift is an extremely popular exercise that actually tests the entire body for total body strength. The deadlift is performed in different groups of strength sports, just look at bodybuilders, strength trainers, and cross-fitters.

In this article, we are going to talk about the classic deadlift, also known as the “conventional deadlift”. This is definitely not the only deadlift variant out there. You also have popular deadlift variations such as the sumo deadlift and the Romanian deadlift.

We recommend getting familiar with and comfortable with the conventional deadlift before venturing into all sorts of fun variations.

What muscles do you train when deadlifting?

When performing a compound exercise like the deadlift, you use almost every muscle in your body. However, several muscle groups have to do the most work when performing the exercise.

The focus in the deadlift is on the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. In addition, muscle groups such as the quadriceps, trapezius, calves, abs, and biceps are also called upon.

When you perform the exercise correctly, all muscle fibers from your neck to your heels will be activated. In addition, you also train your grip strength, core strength, and core stability.

Other benefits

The deadlift is ideal for training and stimulating muscles throughout your body, we know this. The exercise also brings a few other nice benefits that not everyone knows about.

Doing a big and heavy compound exercise like the deadlift sends a signal to your body, releasing hormones and testosterone. This helps further increase your bone density and muscle hypertrophy.

Do you want to boost your testosterone levels naturally? You do not need unhealthy and dangerous substances for this. Just start implementing heavy compound exercises like the deadlift and barbell squat into your training schedule!

Form Guide: Execution of the Deadlift

The deadlift can be an injury-prone exercise when not performed properly. Your lower back is especially prone to injury if it is not in the correct position while lifting the weight.

We will walk you through the exercise, from start to finish, using many steps. Make sure you remember all these steps, especially if you're completely new to the deadlift.
  • Place the barbell over the center of your foot, where your shoelaces are. Place your feet hip-width apart on the floor.
  • Push your hips back and lean forward until your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
  • Lower your hands and grab the barbell with both hands with a double overhand grip.
  • Take a deep breath, brace yourself and slowly pull the weight up.
  • When the barbell is above knee height, push your hips forward until they touch the barbell and you are fully upright.
  • Tighten the muscles in your upper back (lats) when you are in the top position of the exercise.
  • Lower the weight the same way it came up, but slowly and in a controlled manner.
  • Reposition your body in the starting position and perform the exercise again until the desired number of repetitions is reached.


Helpful Tips

Okay, this all sounds logical, of course, but this is easier said than done. To help you with the execution, we have some tips and mental reminders for you so that you do not forget certain actions.
  • Make sure the barbell comes up in a straight line.
  • Don't drop your hips too far. If you do this, the deadlift will turn into a squat exercise.
  • Keeping constant tension in your upper back and lats will keep the barbell from moving away from your body. The barbell must stay close to your body during the exercise.
  • Reminders you can use to keep your upper back in the correct position are: 'Imagine you are trying to squeeze a lemon in both armpits' and 'Push your shoulder blades into your back pocket'.
  • Your chest is up in the starting position, someone should be able to see the logo on your shirt. Pushing your chest up often goes hand in hand with activating the lats.
  • The direction of your toes depends on personal preference and the anatomy of your hips. Experiment with your toes pointing forward and out.
  • Don't squeeze your shoulder blades together, this will shorten your arms range, making the exercise more difficult and inefficient.
  • Imagine that you are pushing the ground away from your heels, this ensures that you are less likely to pull the weight up from your arms.
  • In addition to the previous tip, keep your arms in an extended position at all times. Arms function poorly as hooks during the deadlift, there can be absolutely no bend in your elbows. When this happens, heavyweight can increase the risk of serious bicep injuries.
  • Your knees are directly over your feet and the same width as your hips. If you place your feet wider than hip-width, your hands will bump into your knees as you lift the weight.

Common mistakes

We have discussed the correct execution of the deadlift and listed some useful tips. With all this information in mind, you will quickly master the deadlift and eventually master it like a pro.

Nevertheless, we would like to go through several common mistakes. Mistakes that many people still claim help or make some sense. We can tell you with certainty, the following topics are definitely errors and bring no additional benefits.

1. Drop the weight

You see most people do it, but it makes absolutely no sense. The exercise consists of two parts; the concentric and eccentric phases. In other words, in the case of the deadlift, up and down. Lowering the weight to the floor in a controlled manner is a major challenge, especially for the core and therefore part of the exercise. So don't forget this part by throwing the weight on the floor every time!

Besides the strong core activation of the eccentric phase being reason enough not to drop the weight, it also doesn't help you maintain your position and shape. After the fall, the barbell can move in all directions with the weight, so you have to adjust your position again. When you put the weight back on the floor in a controlled manner, you'll be ready for your next rep faster.

2. Lean Back

Something we often see, leaning far back in the top position when the body is fully stretched. Why? No idea. 

One of the reasons some strength trainers do this in competition is to clearly show the judges that they are completely "locked". This is a requirement for the lift to be approved. You and I probably don't have to worry about this, so we can leave this out. It only increases the chance of injuries because there is extra unnecessary pressure on your spine.

We mentioned it before but would like to emphasize it extra. The problem starts with lowering the hips unnecessarily. From this position, most of the power should come from the quadriceps, and these muscles are not the primary muscle group to do the work in the deadlift.

4. Always use an "under over grip"

An under over grip means that one hand is placed overhand and the other hand underhand on the barbell. This grip can certainly be useful when you notice that your grip gives way before the muscles you actually want to train. Of course, you are not supposed to be held back in the amount of weight and number of repetitions by the failure of your grip.

When this happens, an underhand overhand grip is a good solution. You can also use training accessories such as lifting straps to solve grip problems. Only use this solution when it is really necessary.

When you always opt for an under-over grip, you train your grip strength to a minimum. You will also strengthen your deadlift, which will create a gap between your grip strength and the weight you can deadlift. So just use an overhand grip with both hands until your grip breaks and then switch to an alternative.

Safety and Precautions

We've discussed some common mistakes that don't offer any benefits but only carry injury risks. We have described the execution and ideal form of the deadlift in 8 steps, from start to finish.

Now that you have all this knowledge, you are absolutely ready to perform the deadlift correctly and safely. When you succeed, this exercise brings so many benefits.

Finally, we emphasize some safety and precautionary measures. Make sure you don't forget them and you can use the deadlift for years without getting nasty injuries!
  • Start the exercise with just the barbell and slowly build up the weight. When you find that you can no longer maintain your form with a certain amount of weight, take a step back.
  • Never round your lower back during the deadlift. Keep your spine in a constant neutral position so that you can perform the fitness exercise safely.
  • If you feel a lot of pressure on your lower back, experiment with wearing a power lift belt during the deadlift. Make sure you don't become dependent on a power lift belt, but only use it with relatively heavier weights for extra support and safety.

Pull-ups

We probably don't need to tell you that the pull-up is one of the toughest bodyweight exercises. Still, learning and mastering the exercise is a challenge well worth taking on.

Whether you are a bodybuilder, strength trainer, crossfitter, or fitness fanatic, the pull-up gives you a lot of benefits. It is an exercise that you can actually perform anywhere. Performing with the right technique is something we still regularly see going wrong, but this is easily prevented!

Which muscles do you train with the pull-up?

Back: The lats and rhomboid are the muscles in the back that do most of the work when performing the pull-up. In addition, with different grip variations, you can move the emphasis on different parts of your arms. The pull-up also trains other muscle groups in the back; such as the rear delts and trapezius muscles.

Biceps: Because there is a bend in your elbow, your biceps are put to work. With a chin up you can shift the focus more to the bicep. If your back muscles are the primary focus, then the pull-up is the most suitable pull-up variation.

Core:  Your core muscles consist of your abdominals, obliques, and lower back. You will need to keep your lower body in a completely straight position so that there is no flexion in your lower back. This requires constant tension and activation of your core.

A repeat in detail (3 phases)

There's more to the purpose of a pull-up than hanging from a bar and pulling yourself up. Understanding the details and nuances of the exercise will help keep your shoulders healthy and the muscles in your back strong. We can divide the pull-up into three different phases: The bottom position, middle position, and the top position.

Pull-ups Back Workouts, Image:infofitness.nl



Phase 1: You start at the bottom


When you hang in the lower position, you never completely release the tension from your back. You extend your arms fully, but always lightly activate your back muscles so that the tension remains constant on your back.

When you completely relax while hanging, you enter a "dead hanging" position. This will lift your shoulders and place undue stress on your rotator cuffs and the tendons in your biceps. This is something you absolutely want to avoid.

Phase 2: Halfway through, shift your focus

Focus on your shoulder blades. Don't just use your arms when you start pulling your body up. Try pulling with your shoulder blades down. as you tuck your elbows into your sides.

It often helps to push your chest up a bit, towards the pull-up bar. This forces the shoulder blades back and down.

Phase 3: At the top

Keep working and pulling until you finish the repetition. Try to raise your chin above the bar. In this position, squeeze your shoulder blades together and push them back. In this top position, you keep constant tension on your glutes and core muscles.

This is how you do a perfect pull up

Now you know that the pull-up consists of three different phases and you are ready for the perfect execution. Always stick to the steps below and before you know it you'll be mastering the pull-up like a pro.
  • Place your hands overhand on the pull-up bar the same width as your shoulders. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended, lift your chest slightly, and push your shoulder blades back.
  • When your legs are still near the floor, you can lift them up and cross your feet.
  • Push your shoulders back and keep your core engaged. Pull yourself up and focus on pulling from your elbows and squeezing the shoulder blades together.
  • Continue to pull up until your chin is above the bar, then slowly lower yourself until your arms are fully extended again.
  • Repeat the movement until the desired number of reps of the set is reached.

What if the pull-up is too heavy?

Of course, it is not possible for everyone to immediately start doing the pull-up. It is a bodyweight exercise, which means that the intensity of the exercise depends on the person performing the exercise.

Is the pull still too heavy for you to perform at the moment? Then get started with one of the pull-up variants, so you can still perform the exercise and movement. Doing lat pulldowns and other pull-down exercises can help, but if you want to master the pull up you will have to get started with the exercise itself.

We will discuss many pull-up variations that will help you work towards the actual pull-up.

1. Assisted pull up (band)

The assisted pull-up using resistance bands. The tires can be found in almost every gym. If this is not the case, then you would certainly do well to invest in a set of resistance bands. The bands are available in different amounts of resistance. The resistance is expressed in kilograms.

When you hang the resistance band around a pull-up bar, you can place one or two feet in the band. The band assists you upwards with a certain amount of force, in this way the exercise is made easier.

Because the bands are available in different resistances, they are ideal for gradually reducing resistance. You can keep doing this until you no longer need a band at all and can perform the pull-up on your own!

2. Assisted pull-up (machine)

The assisted pull-up machine is great. Not only for people for whom the pull-up itself is too heavy, but the machine is also useful when performing the pull-up with a high number of repetitions. After all, not many people do five sets of 15 reps pull-ups, believe me.

So if you have an assisted pull-up machine in your gym, make sure to use it. This all works a little easier and faster than using resistance bands.

Helpful Tips

You know how to do the perfect pull-up, but the practice is always more difficult than theory. To help you with the perfect execution, we have listed some tips for you that are very useful.
  • Provide a 'full range of motion. This involves pulling yourself up as high as possible and then fully extending your arms back into the lower position. In this way, you activate the maximum amount of muscle fibers.
  • Make sure your body is firm and tight from the start. By keeping both your upper body and lower body under constant tension, you also involve the smaller stabilizing muscles in the exercise. This makes it easier to balance your body so that you can perform the pull-up effectively and prevent you from swinging back and forth.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together in the top position. By doing this you force the back muscles to squeeze together, resulting in maximum contraction and thus muscle fiber activation.
  • Do not use momentum and do the pull-up according to the three different phases.
  • Make sure your grip strength is strong enough for a full set of pull-ups. If you find that your grip is failing too quickly, implement exercises specifically aimed at strengthening grip strength.

Safety and Precautions

We have discussed the perfect execution of the pull-up and have given you several useful tips that will help you with this. If you want to reduce the risk of injury, you can take several precautions. The main ones are:
  • Keep your back and shoulder blades constantly engaged, this will keep your shoulders in a safe position.
  • The pull-up is a heavy exercise and is often used as the first exercise of a workout. When you do this make sure you are warmed up enough. You can do this, for example, by first doing several warm-up sets on a lat pull-down machine.

Lat pull-down: back exercises for beginners


The lat pulldown is named after the muscle you train with the exercise: the latissimus dorsi also called the lats. The lats are the back muscles that make your back look wide and wide. This is because the lats are clearly visible when you look at someone from the front.

For the exercise you need a cable station, these can be found in most gyms. Performing the exercise at home is therefore difficult, in which case an exercise such as the pull-up is a good alternative to train the lats directly.

Not only are the lats put to work during the lat pull down, but other muscles in the back, biceps, forearms, lower back, abdomen, and glutes have to work to pull the weight down and stabilize the body.

Execution of the lat pulldown

The lat pulldown is an exercise that you can easily do wrong. It is very important to be aware of the muscles you want to train and thus use to move the weight. To make sure you perform the exercise optimally, we go through the steps from start to finish.
  • Grab the bar with an overhand grip (knuckles up) and place your hands shoulder-width apart or slightly out. We will discuss different grip variations later.
  • Brace yourself in the device and place your feet flat on the floor. Make sure your back is in a completely straight line while holding the bar overhead.
  • Pull the bar down in a controlled manner and bring it to your chest. Just before the bar reaches your chest, lean back very slightly with your upper body so that the bar can just pass your face.
  • Pull the bar toward your chest as far as possible, squeezing your shoulder blades and back muscles hard at this point. Try to shift the weight from the back muscles as much as possible and avoid pulling from the arms. If you feel like your biceps and forearms are doing the work, a thumb-less grip can help turn your arms off.
  • From the position with the bar close to your chin, let the bar rise again in a controlled manner. Make sure that you don't let your arms pull all the way up, which takes the tension off your back muscles. You want to avoid pulling your shoulders toward your ears in the top position.
  • Repeat the movement until the desired number of reps of the set is achieved.

Grip variations

You perform the traditional lat pulldown as we just discussed, with an overhand grip. There are all kinds of grip variations that you can try out to shift the focus every time.

If you are completely new to the lat pull down, it is recommended to stick with the traditional lat pull down initially. When you master these enough, experimenting with other grip variations can be very helpful. We discuss effective lat pull-down variations below.

1. V grip lat pulldown

The v grip lat pulldown cannot be performed with the cable accessory with which you perform the traditional lat pull down. For this, you need a rowing handle cable accessory, but it is also possible with two simple handle cable accessories.

These cable accessories force you to use a neutral grip (palms facing each other). Because of this grip, your elbows will automatically come in. The variation is very suitable when you want to shift the focus more to muscles in the middle of the back.

2. Reverse grip lat pulldown

The reverse grip lat pull down, also called the underhand lat pull down, is similar to the normal lat pull down. Unlike the traditional variant, you perform this one with an underhand grip (palms up).

This variation is very useful when you want to shift the focus to the lower muscle fibers in the lats. Because you have an underhand grip, the weight can be pulled down a lot lower, so that the muscle fibers in the lower part of the lats are better activated. This variation is therefore very suitable when you want to create the well-known 'V-shape' in your back. 

Helpful Tips

As we said before, mistakes are easily made while doing the lat pull down. Below we have put away a list of our most important tips for you that should absolutely not be forgotten while performing the exercise!
  • Make sure your body is firmly and firmly in the device. Adjust the device to the correct height so that your body does not move or move while doing the exercise.
  • Don't lean back too much. Because you lean back, you can pull more weight down because you make the exercise lighter. This is of course tempting, but it makes no sense. By leaning far back you change the exercise into a rowing exercise when it should actually be a pull-down exercise. Keep your ego under control and use a weight that allows you to maintain a straight posture.
  • Pull from your back! It sounds easy, but it certainly isn't. Constantly be aware and prevent your arms from shifting the weight by consciously contracting your shoulder blades and back muscles each time you pull the weight down.
  • Use a thumbless grip when you feel your biceps and forearms are doing more work than your back. In addition, imagine that your arms are just hooks that grab the bar, that's all they need to do.

Safety and Precautions

Safety is important with any exercise, this is no different for the lat pull down. Make sure the joints and muscles in your shoulders are well warmed up before starting the lat pull down. If you feel pain in your shoulders and/or elbows during the lat pull down, try adjusting your grip.

Dangerous lat pulldown variations such as a 'behind the neck pull down' are not recommended. As with any variation where weight is moved behind the neck, it will not give you proven benefits. However, you run a high risk of shoulder injuries, so don't do it. back exercises for beginners.

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