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Best Back Exercises for Muscle

Updated on June 8, 2014

What are your goals?

Of course I have to start out by saying that all routines and exercises are not created equal. Back exercises for me may very well not be suitable for a lesser experienced or older person. Having the right form with back training is extremely critical and I encourage you to learn first before attempting any of these exercises.

That being said, building strength for your back can lead to a great increase in overall strength, better posture, and you`ll probably look (more) sexy than you already do.

Let`s get started...

Why These Exercises?

From my 10+ years in weightlifting and athletics I have found these exercises to give me the most "bang for my buck". They hit all muscles in a person`s back and can be easily incorporated into your back workout routine. It may even be a good idea to space out these exercises across multiple workout sessions.

I also chose these back exercises because they work other parts of your body as well. It`s always good to be a well rounded person (unless we`re talking about your gut).

We`ll Cover These:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Pull-ups
  • Back-Extension
  • Rows
  • Lat Pull-Down

Squat Technique

The Squat

Quite possibly the most useful exercise in a person`s arsenal, the squat is great for many reasons and is great for many muscle groups. While it is not primarily used as a back exercise, it still yields good results when done properly.

One of the most important things to remember while doing squats is to keep a straight back, feet about shoulder width apart (depending on your build), and to go down to about the 90 degree mark with your legs.

For this exercise and the others to follow I have included a video to quickly show you good technique.

How often do you workout?

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Deadlifts are another one of those compound exercises that should be done about once a week. They work multiple muscle groups but deal more with back strength than squats. I find deadlifts to be very back-oriented, and I have certainly had some sore back muscles from doing these.

My biggest suggestion for deadlifts is to start with a weight you know you can handle. The worst thing to do is to go too heavy, too fast.


Oh how I love pull-ups! Fantastic for an whole upper body workout including back, shoulders, lats, biceps, forearms, and more. It can be hard to start doing pull-ups but are invaluable to an overall fit body.

Many variations of the pull-up exist but for simplicity we will stick with the standard pull-up as seen in the video below. Chin-ups, wide-grip pull-ups, muscle-ups, etc are all good things to consider if you ever want to mix up your workout routine.

Back Extensions

Back extensions are good for the lower back as well as the hamstrings. I typically do them with weight in my hands (a plate), but if you`re just starting out then your body weight should be just fine.

When you`re doing the back extension make sure to go down and up all the way as seen in the video. Also as with most of these back exercises, you can afford to do them only once a week unless you`re an in shape athlete. Doing back exercises too much can have the opposite effect than you want.


Rows are better for the upper back as well as arm strength. There are many variations of rows including the barbell, dumbbell, bodyweight only, etc. It`s always a good idea to mix up the variation once in a while to allow for some muscle confusion as well as to simply not get bored.

You might laugh at the boredom thing, but what happens when you don`t like exercises anymore? You stop. And get lazy.


Lat-pulldowns are great to help build that V-shape back or swimmer`s back. My favorite part about lat pulldowns is that you can set the weight to whatever you want and is much easier to do many reps as opposed to pull-ups.

There are varying grips with lat pulldowns and I encourage you to try them all. This workout obviously works the lats (sides of your upper back) and is great when combined with other, more compound exercises since the lat pulldown is more isolated.

In Conclusion

Please watch the videos if you`re not sure how to do an exercise. The last thing you want is to have an injury. I hope you`ve enjoyed my brief but effective list of best back exercises, and if you have any questions feel free to comment below - I`m pretty responsive and can help you out.

Remember to be consistent with your workouts whether it be for your back or in general. As always don`t forget that you are what you eat - what`s the point of working out if you`re going to eat pizza afterwards?

Feel free to also check out my other articles here on Hubpages for exercise recommendations, whey protein timing, swimming, and more.


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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great informative hub on the best muscle exercises for your back. Voted up!

    • bodyathletics profile image

      Benjamin 3 years ago

      Thanks for the props!

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 3 years ago from Texas

      Nice, informative article on exercises to develop the back muscles Benjamin. As the pull up is the best back exercise. You can't cheat or lower the weight. Thumbs up on your hub.