Believe it or not, the back is comprised of no fewer than 40 separate muscles. This is why appreciating the most useful exercises is vital if you hope to make the most out of your workouts. The professionals at Trion have therefore put together a list of eight back exercises that will help tone and add mass to those back muscles while helping give your body with that much-desired “X” shape. Without further ado, let’s begin.
Many fitness enthusiasts prefer to incorporate these back exercises at the beginning of their workouts, as close-grip pull-downs can be performed with a significant amount of weight (you can also use wrist straps if needed). These movements are excellent if you hope to develop a thick and well-proportioned back, as they target the lats as well as the trapezius muscles which are found on either side of your spine. Performing negative repetitions of these Trion back exercises will also place your lats under an even greater amount of strain, so get ready for a killer pump!
Wide-grip pull-downs are used to obtain a wider back; helping to augment the appearance of your lats while enabling your waistline to appear narrower. These movements are also excellent if you have been hoping to achieve the so-called “v-taper” which tends to define modern fitness enthusiasts. Similar to their close-grip variants, these exercises can be performed with moderate weight until failure or with heavy weight if you wish to build mass.
It’s often wise to focus on bilateral movements, as these will illustrate if one side of your back is weaker than the other. Another advantage of one-arm pull-downs is that you can slightly twist your torso during the eccentric phase (when your arm is fully extended). This will help to further define your lats and it even incorporates a fair amount of abdominal work; particularly the obliques and the serratus anterior.
Standing High Rows
Sometimes known as straight-armed pull-downs, these exercises are used to elongate the latissimus dorsi. Straight-armed pull-downs will normally be performed with a moderate amount of weight for higher repetitions (generally between 12 and 20). As these will not compress the spinal column in any way, they are also a wise choice if you are worried about sustaining an injury (or if you have recently recovered from a strain).
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Seated rows are considered one of the most powerful back exercises due to their relatively short range of motion as well as the amount of weight that can be moved. Although the lats are involved, seated rows will heavily incorporate the trapezius muscles. This is why they can be an excellent choice if your back appears to be somewhat narrow when viewed from the side.
This next exercise was the absolute favourite of none other than retired British bodybuilder Dorian ‘The Shadow’ Yates himself. Bent-over rows are another key mass-building exercise for your back and they are normally placed towards the beginning of your workout. Make it a point to experiment between pronated and supinated grips, as each of these will place a slightly different level of stress upon your lats (Dorian Yates preferred a supinated grip).
One of the most appealing aspects of pull-ups is that you will normally not require any type of gym equipment; pull-ups are arguably one of the best all-around upper body exercises. You can choose from many different types of grips and the variants alone will always keep things interesting. On a final note, these movements (as well as others such as pull-downs) will not compress your spine. Thus, you’re much less likely to suffer an injury.
One-arm rows are a final recommendation from the team at Trion. These can be performed with a significant amount of weight and as you might have already guessed, one-armed rows are primarily used as a mass-building movement.
“Back” to the Basics
These eight exercises will undoubtedly have an impact upon your next workout if you have been looking to spice things up a bit. However, be sure to remain safe at all times. When performing any motions that compress the spine (such as bent-over rows), it may be wise to use a weight belt in order to reduce the chances of sustaining an accidental injury.