Back Workout Basics
Bringing Sexy Back...
Does your body go straight down from your shoulders to your hips?
Yeah, you should work on your back.
A broad, strong back is a sound basis for a well built body, and you can build it using just a few simple, effective workout moves. A strong back, as well as looking good, becomes less prone to injury, and your posture will also improve.
Below, I've listed three worthwhile exercises you can add to your workout repertoire to gain a stronger back, and flared lats, for that broad, V-shaped upper body.
Pull up bar
Chin ups and pull ups - which is which?
A chin up bar is one of the cheapest and best workout machines you can buy for home use. The simple kind that slots in a doorway literally costs pocket change, can be installed in minutes with a cross head screwdriver, and will last a lifetime of careful use. Even the upgraded, fancy pants version that hooks over your door frame and offers various exercise options will only cost as much as a night out, and a quiet night out at that.
To get the definitions out of the way:
A pull up is when you use an overhand grip on the bar.
A chin up is when you use an underhand grip on the bar.
The two different grips recruit different muscle sets, the pull up working your trapezius and latissimus dorsi, the chin up working your biceps more. It's okay to use variations of each exercise in your back routine.
Close grip pull up
Your upper body strength workout
I'm loath to recommend any amount of reps or sets, because everyone has different strength levels, and what could be an easy set for some could be torture for someone else.
Personally I've found that doing too many at one time hurts, and makes the whole shoulder joint feel wobbly. Arnold Schwarzenegger recommends working up to doing twenty by doing just a few at a time, then resting and coming back to them later. A good plan to follow until you've built up enough strength.
Remember to work your legs afterwards. I've sometimes found that working your top half only can lead to feeling really tense and stiff around the neck and shoulders later on.
Pull ups really build the strength in your arms and shoulders, and will broaden your lats into the bargain.
Pull ups for beginners. (Hat optional.)
Lat pull down
Can't pull off a pull up?
If you're just starting, and pull ups are beyond you, take heart. Not everyone has good upper body strength, but you can always improve it. Start off small, with the lat machine in the gym. Pick a weight you can handle, and use a wide grip lat bar to pull it down to your chest, using the same overhand grip you would use on the pull up bar. You will build up enough strength this way to start doing pull ups.
Seated cable rows
If you've got a pulley machine in your gym, hook a double handle to a floor level cable, then sit on a mat facing the pulley. Pick a weight from the stack, then, keeping your back upright, grab the handle in both hands and slowly and steadily pull it straight back to your belly, while bracing your feet against the frame. Keep your back upright and tensed throughout, and use just enough weight to present a challenge. This will work your forearms, your anterior deltoids, and your whole back, especially the erector spinae that run up and down the sides of the spine. Repeat for three sets of ten. This will really improve your posture.
Seated cable rows.
Bent over rows
Using a weighted barbell, from a feet shoulder width apart stance, bend over at the waist, let your knees bend a little, and grab the bar with both hands, in an overhand grip. Keeping your back straight and tensed, and your head and neck in line with it, pull the bar off the floor to your torso, then let it back down to the ground. Repeat for three sets of ten.
This works your anterior deltoids and your upper back, as well as your forearms and triceps.
Bent over row.
Your best back workout routine
Now you have three workout moves that will help you build a strong back.
Note well - when you do them, don't neglect the big compound movements that should form the core of your workout routine, specifically the squat and the deadlift. These play a big part in working your whole body, your back included.