The Best Back Workout Exercises│This Is How You Get The Perfect Back

Building a powerful and muscular back is not a herculean task if you know the right training techniques along with the best back workout exercises for targeting all areas of your back.

The back is one area that most people tend to ignore or fail to build muscle as one cannot see the back muscles for a visual satisfaction of their progress as we train in the gym that often leads to muscular imbalances. If you pick random exercises for your back workouts, there won’t be much to show for growth.

To get the perfect V-shaped body that most weightlifters and bodybuilders dream of, having a strong and big back is one of the foundations that plays an important role, the other two being broad shoulders and a narrow waist.

A physique with a muscular and well-defined back stands out from the crowd of aspiring bodybuilders and athletes. You need to pay close attention to doing everything right in the gym to proudly owning that perfect back which comes from knowing a few simple rules that go into building it. But first, let’s start with getting to know all the different muscles of the back.

The Muscle Anatomy of the Back


Muscle anatomy of the back

The back is made up of many muscles that are divided into a total of three groups:

  • Superficial Muscles – attached to the shoulder and neck
  • Intermediate Muscles – help with the movement of the thoracic cage
  • Deep or Intrinsic Muscles – helps with the movement of the vertebral column and maintain posture

For our purpose here, we will focus on the two muscle groups of the back which are superficial muscles and deep muscles. These two muscle groups are the ones that we can target through different exercises to build muscle as they get stronger with time.

The muscles of the superficial and deep group are:

  • Trapezius or Traps (triangular muscles that cover the large area of your upper back)
  • Latissimus dorsi or Lats (widest muscles of the human body that stretch across almost the mid to the entire lower back)
  • Rotator cuff muscles (Teres major, teres minor, infraspinatus, and supraspinatus)
  • Rhomboid major and Rhomboid minor (stabilize and retract the scapula or the shoulder bone)
  • Erector Spinae or Lower Back (extend and flex the spine)

If the main focus in your back workouts is to get a wider back or a ‘V-Taper’ as commonly referred to in the fitness community then you should include more of the exercises in your back workout that targets the three main areas of the superficial group that are teres major, teres minor and the lats.

Since there are several muscles in the back that needs to be stimulated for muscle growth through the means of exercise, it is important to have a plan of action while organizing your back workout program to get serious results. Now that we have understood the back anatomy, it’s time for learning about the best and most effective back exercises available to us in the gym.

The Single Best Back Exercise You Can Do


Man Performing the Conventional Barbell Deadlift

…And that exercise is the Deadlift.

When done with the proper form and technique, the barbell deadlift is the single best exercise that one can do. This exercise not only trains the back for overall thickness but works on almost every single muscle in the body. This whole-body mass builder gives you significant benefits like increased fat burning, better posture, improved grip strength, engagement of multiple muscle groups while being a completely safe exercise to perform (yes, 100% safe), and preventing any injuries or weakness of the lower back muscles.

As a whole, the deadlift is an essential whole body strengthening exercise that involves the activation of multiple muscle groups in the entire body happening at the same time, which results in several potential benefits in exercise performance.

Of course, the conventional deadlift is one of the hardest compound exercises you can do that includes lifting heavy weights directly off the ground but the rewards of doing it far exceed the risks of not. It is of great importance that you should first learn the right form and the correct technique of performing this essential back exercise for bringing in major increases in your back muscle mass and whole-body strength that will also carry-over to your other heavy compound lifts.

In the words of Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training which has been called “the best and most useful of fitness books”, “There is no easy way to do a deadlift—not involving actually picking up the bar—which explains their lack of popularity in gyms around the world.”

If you are unable to do the deadlift because of an injury or for some other reasons, then feel free to replace this exercise with the top recommendation being the barbell bent-over row. The barbell bent-over row is the second-best back exercises you can do after the deadlift that works the entire back area.

The other best back-building exercises will also contribute hugely to complete muscular development of the back so let us discuss them in detail below.

The Other Best Back Building Exercises


man performing pull ups for back training

In this section of the post, we will discuss the best back exercises to target the specific areas of the many muscles of the back (as explained previously).

So, how do you get a thick, wide, and muscular back?

To get the most out of training our backs for maximum muscularity, it is of utmost importance that we include the right exercises in our back workout routine. Not only that, you need to focus on contracting and squeezing the muscles at the bottom of every rep of every single exercise you perform while lifting heavier weights and emphasizing progressive overload to get a complete muscular back.

The best exercises that train the 5 main areas of the back most effectively with maximum activation of the muscle fibers are described below:

  1. Lats: Underhand Lat Pulldown or Rocking Pulldown, Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown, One arm high cable row, Pull-Up, Dumbbell Tripod Row or Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
  2. Traps and Rhomboids: Dumbbell Carry / Farmer’s Walk, Barbell / Dumbbell Shrugs, Face Pull or Face Pull Press
  3. Teres Major: Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
  4. Teres Minor: Face Pull
  5. Lower Back: Hyperextension, Reverse Hyperextension, High Hip Bucks, Superman
  6. Overall Back Builder: Bent-over Barbell Row

Strengthening the Lower Back Muscles


Back Extension or Hyperextension Exercise for the Lower Back

The one thing missing from most every back workout and training programs is focused lower back work with exercises that makes this area progressively stronger. You can help take some stress off of your lower back and yes, it is possible to do that by including exercises to train and develop the lower back completely.

The problem of lower back pain that a large number of people develop throughout their lives is insidious. This common problem of low back pain can be minimized or eliminated by using certain exercises to strengthen the lower back. You can also make a few simple lifestyle changes like maintaining a good posture whenever in a sitting position to reduce unnecessary strain on your lower back muscles.

Hyperextension, also known as the back extension is your best option in the gym for strengthening the lower back where these muscles are specifically getting targeted. This lower back exercise further complements the deadlift to train the complete back muscles in the most effective way possible while making the lower back muscles stable and strong.

You can also further ease off the load on your lower back by working towards making your glutes/ hip muscles and your abdominal region/ core muscles stronger by doing either bodyweight exercises at home or weighted exercises in the gym.

The Perfect Workout Routine for Training All Back Muscles


The Perfect Back Workout Training Program

A workout can be called perfect when the exercises included in the workout are capable of hitting all areas of the target muscle group in the right sequence and stimulates the process of muscle growth through progressive overload.

All exercises in this perfect back workout routine have been brought together to give you the highest possible results for your sweat and effort in the gym so that the reward you get in return is worth all that hard work. This back workout will hit every single muscle in your back.

The first group of exercises will start with compound or multi-joint movements as they are the hardest to perform and are best done when you are fresh at the beginning of your workouts. Following the compound exercises, there will be isolation or single-joint movements that have been included in this workout to stimulate the small muscle groups in the back that often get neglected in the majority of back workouts.

This back workout routine is advised to be done once a week but if your training frequency has you train back twice a week then you can also add in the same workout with a gap of 3-4 days between each back day to avoid overtraining.

The Step by Step Perfect Back Workout

Warm-Up:

2 sets of 10 reps of Conventional Barbell Deadlift with 50-60% weight of your starting weights.

1. Barbell Deadlift
3 sets of 4 to 6 reps
3-4 minutes rest in between sets

2. Barbell Bent-Over Row
3 sets of 4 to 6 reps
3-4 minutes rest in between sets

3. Underhand Lat Pulldown or Wide-grip Lat Pulldown
3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
2-3 minutes rest in between sets

4. Barbell or Dumbbell Shrug
3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
2-3 minutes rest in between sets

5. Hyperextension (Bodyweight or Weighted)
3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
2-3 minutes rest in between sets

6. Face Pull
2 sets of 8 to 10 reps
2-3 minutes rest in between sets

Final Words


That’s all it takes to build the perfect back. In the vast sea of misinformation on the internet, it’s easy for one to get confused and lost but exercise doesn’t have to be so complicated. The workout techniques shared above works for not only building the ideal back but can be applied to building your entire physique.

You can use the basic principles and foundations that have worked for hundreds of years for people of all races and genes. The body mechanics function in the same way for all the human species. So, what has worked in the fitness circle and the concepts that have been proven by science for building muscle will continue to work no matter what.

Choose the right teacher, follow their advice, have patience, and enjoy the process.

The fitness game is only won by those with strong willpower and determination to continue doing the small tasks day in and day out, delaying instant gratification, which then contributes a great deal in the long term for achieving the desired goals. 

I hope and wish that the information I shared here can be of a little help in progressing in your fitness journey. Please leave your experiences and comments below to share your thoughts on this back workout program.

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