December 2

Ultimate Back Workouts – The Best Back Workout

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Your back muscles contribute 2/3 of the upper body muscles. It's necessary to train the muscles with a proper workout routine that train all the muscles in the back, So that you will get optimum development on your back. 

Anatomy of your Back Muscles

Your back is a complex set of 4 major muscle groups. They are Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus dorsi, and Erector spinae. 

When it comes to back development, you have to work all those muscles. 

back muscles

We have already created a routine for traps and rhomboids, you can check it here. You can do the traps workout with your shoulder routine. 

Latissimus dorsi is the most significant muscle in the back. It originates from your lower back on either side of the body and inserts into your upper arms. It is responsible for extension, adduction, horizontal abduction, and internal rotation of your arms.

Latissimus dorsi get worked with horizontal and vertical pull movements like bent-over rows and pull-ups.

Erector spinae is a bundle of muscles and tendons that run vertically. The function of erector spinae is to straighten and rotate your back. It lies to the sides in the groove of the vertebral column.

In Addition to these four major muscles, there are rotator cuff muscles and teres major. These muscles origin from scapula and insert into the upper arms. Teres major supports the latissimus dorsi muscle in shoulder extension and horizontal abduction. 

Science of Muscle growth

How to train overall if there are any underlooked parts? If so, how to train them?

  • A well developed Latissimus dorsi will give that classic V taper look. But it doesn’t mean to focus only on lats.  
  • Your training must include heavy compound lifting that hit the back muscles. 

Exercise selection:

Exercise selection has a big impact on your progress. You have to hit all the functions of the muscle for the proper development of your back.

Let's look into the case of your lats muscle. 

  • Your lats muscles do the shoulder adduction(wide grip lat pulldown), horizontal abduction, and extension( narrow grip lat pulldown).
  • To properly develop the lats, you have to train all the functions of the Latissimus dorsi.

Sets: 3- 4 sets each exercise

Reps: to train back, you do 4-8 reps. 

Frequency:

Frequency is the number of times you train your muscles each week. It's good to train your back once every week. 

Rest in between sets: 60-90 s rest is best for muscle hypertrophy. Your ATP levels will be restored during this time. 

Progressive overload: Increase the weight when you hit your target reps. If your target rep is 6, increase the weight lifted if you have done 6 reps. Progressive overload is the key to muscle growth. 

Equipment

Barbell: A barbell is an iron rod with a provision to add weights at both ends. They are 4ft to 7 ft long, for our purpose we need 7ft bar or any larger than 5ft. 

Dumbbell is a short bar with a weight attached to each end. 

Weight plates are disc usually made of cast iron. It is added to the barbell to increase weight.

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Lets look into some of the the best exercise for back

Deadlift

-the best exercise for lower back

The deadlift is a whole-body exercise and one of the best back workouts for mass and strength. 

Step by Step:


1.

Load the weight plates on the floor. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. The bar must be above your feet towards the mid-foot. 

2.

Lower your torso and grab the bar with a grip wider than shoulder-width.  Grab the bar with a mixed grip.  Use a full grip with your thumbs over the bar, and this will help you to hold heavyweights. 

3.

Bent your knees so that your shins touch the bar. Take a big breath and hold.

4.

Bent your knees so that your shins touch the bar. Take a big breath and hold. Pull the weight up, push your knees out.  

5.

Lock your  knees and hip when you reach the top. 

Hold  and return to starting position and repeat. 

How to Deadlift with proper form?

Bar setup for deadlift

Place the bar on the floor and add weight plates. You can use mats under the bar as you have to put the bar on the floor after each rep. This will reduce the noise and the chance of damaging the weight plates. 

Don't place the bar on a rack. This is not a good deadlift starting position.

From stance to grip, more about the perfect deadlift form

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your foot under the bar. Lower yourself by bending at your hips.

Grab the bar with a mixed grip and hold it tight as to break the bar. You should use a full grip with your thumbs wrapped around the bar. This will help to give you good grip strength. 

Lower your hips by bending at your knees, lower it till your shins touch the bar. 

In this position, your knees will be inside your arms. If you have placed your feet correctly, it will not block your arms when lifting. 

Keep your lower back in its neutral position, maintaining its natural arc. Don't try to over arch your back. This will create uneven force acting on your spine that can cause injury. Keep your chest up, and this will help to keep your upper back in its neutral position.

Your arms must be vertical from the front. Your arms are straight. The bar must come directly under the shoulder blades.

The shoulder blades transfer the lifting force from the legs to the bar. 

So it should be above the bar, and this ensures your shoulders are in front of the bar. 

Your hips will be lowered if your shoulders are above the bar. This will mimic a squat stance. You are here to do a deadlift. So keep your shoulders in front of the bar; shoulder blades must be above the bar.

The position of your neck is also important. Keep it in a neutral position. Don't look at your feet while lifting. This will relax your upper back and can affect your form.  

Similar to this, looking at  mirror while lifting is a major mistake. This will squeeze your spinal disc and cause strain on them. The best thing is to keep your neck in a neutral position(Chin tuck in).  

Take a big breath and hold it till you finish that rep. Holding the breath will increase the pressure in your abdomen area. This will cause the muscles in your midsection to act as a natural weightlifting belt.

Exhale when you finish the rep, then breathe and start the next rep. 

Lifting the weight off the floor

Take a big breath and hold; tighten your core muscles. Your arms must be straight. 

Stand up with the bar:

deadlift for overall development of back muscles

Don't try to lift with your hips. To do that press your feet as to move the ground. This helps to; lift the weight off the floor. Move your knees out as the bar moves up. 

As the bar lift off the floor raises the hip and chest at the same time. Using your hips only will take your legs out of the movement, making the lift harder. 

At the top of the lift lock out your knees and hips and keep your body upright. 

Don't lean back at the top of lifting, this will add stress on your lower back. 

Don't shrug or roll your shoulders backward. 

Finish the rep by slowly bringing the weight to floor( faster than moving up). Do this by pushing your hips backward. Bent your knees when the bar moves past your knees; this way, you can avoid hitting your knees with bar. 

Exhale and prepare for the next rep. 

During the lifting and return portion, the bar moves in a vertical line. 

There are other variations for the deadlift, but they are not as effective as standard deadlift to work your lower back.  

Sumo deadlift: works your quads more. 

Romanian deadlift: works your glutes and hamstrings  more. 

Stiff-Legged deadlift: similar to Romanian, works your hamstrings and glutes more.  

Choose the standard deadlift  as it is the   best exercise for lower back strength

deadlift

Bent-over Barbell rows 

-barbell exercise for back

Bent over barbell rows - best compound exercise for back that hit your Latissimus Dorsi.

Barbell rows are a must do as it will be the top back workouts for mass and definition. 

Place the loaded bar on the  floor. 

Stand with your feet at shoulder width apart. 

Keep your toes pointing at 30 degrees outwards. 

Position your feet so that the bar comes above mid foot. 

Lower your body by moving your hips backwards and keep your legs straight. 

Don't push your knees out; as the bar may hit it while lifting. 

Grab the bar with an overhand grip with thumbs wrapped around the bar. Hold the bar tight. 

Keep your back in its neutral position and chin tucked in. 

Keep your chest up this ensures your upper back in its neutral position. 

Grab the bar tight; take a big breath. Lift the bar off the floor by pulling the elbows upwards towards your sides.  Don't flare out your elbows nor bring it closer to your sides.  

While moving up the weight raise your torso, which helps to add momentum and lift heavy weights.

But don't raise it more than 15 degrees, as it can reduce action of back muscles and increases the hip involvement. 

This move is often seen when you lift heavy weights. Raising your torso to small degree of 15 is not bad. But anything above will be not effective for your back muscles. 

Bring the bar towards your lower chest. When it hit the lower chest, hold and then lower the bar. Exhale and take a big breath and do the next rep.

bentover barbell rows

One-arm Dumbbell row 

- Best exercise for back muscles with dumbbells

one arm dumbbell rowa

In dumbbell rows, your hips and lower back are less involved to maintain your stability. The dumbbell row is one of the best exercises for upper back thickness.

You can either do this on a bench or use your arm to support on any platform with a waist-level height. 

When doing it with bench, place your hand and knee on the bench; with your shin flat on the bench. Place them on the opposite ends. 

Grab the dumbbell with a closed grip and hold tight. Lift the dumbbell by pulling your elbows towards the ceiling. Raise until it reaches your lower chest. Hold at the top and lower to the floor. Repeat for the required number of reps. 

The second method is to place your hand on support stand at waist height. Place your feet staggered with the feet on the support side forward. 

Grab the dumbbell and raise it to the chest by pulling your elbows back. Lower the dumbbell to the floor and repeat for the required number of reps. 

In this exercise, your lower back will be less involved (to maintain stability). 

You can do dumbbell rows instead of barbell rows after your dead lift session. This will add less stress to your already fatigued lower back.

facepull

Pull-ups

- The best free weight exercise for the back. 

pull up exercise

You lift your body weight. 

Grab the pull up bar with shoulder-width apart and palms facing away from you. Bend your knees and hang freely on the bar with your arms straight.

Raise your body by pulling your elbows down towards the floor. Pause when your chin passes the bar. Try to touch your collarbone to the bar, can be counted as a rep even if the chin passes the bar. But try to reach the bar with collar bone.  

During the pull-ups, keep your lower back neutral maintaining its natural arc. Keep your chest up; this will keep your upper back in a neutral position. Don't forget about the neck, look straight throughout the rep. Don't look at the bar. 

Pause at the top then lower your body until your arms are straight. 

Two scenarios

If you find it difficult for you to do pull-ups try to do chin-ups. In chin-ups, you grab the bar with the grip facing you. Chin Up will involve the biceps more than it will in pull ups. As more muscles are recruited, you can do chin-ups with ease. 

Same as that of a pullup, you start your workout with your arms straight. Raise yourself by pulling your elbows towards the floor, and your biceps will also flex in this move thus making the chin-ups easier than pull-ups. 

If you can easily do your target reps, increase the resistance of pull-ups. You can do this by holding a dumbbell between your feet. This can be useful when adding smaller weights.

But it will become challenging to keep the form when you add heavyweights. The weight can fall off your feet. In the bent position, you have to use your energy to hold the dumbbell, which can decrease your performance in doing pull ups.

The best way of doing a weighted pull up is to use a dip belt. The belt that wraps around your back with chains for holding weights.

pullup

Straight arm pull-downs

This is a shoulder extension movement . It’s the opposite of the front raise. You bring the arm from the front towards your rear. 

Shoulder extension is stronger when your arms are internally rotated; pronated position. 

Your biceps won't come into play as there is no elbow or shoulder flexion.  

Stand facing the cable machine. Grab the bar with a pronated grip with your arms straight and elbows locked. 

Lower the bar down and towards your body by extending your shoulders using lats and teres major. Focus on these two muscles during shoulder extension. Pause at the bottom and return to starting position. 


Lat pulldown

-   Exercises for the back muscles - trains different functions of Latissimus Dorsi

lat pull down for wide back development

Sit on a lat pull cable machine. 

Grab the bar attachment with your grip wider than shoulder-width. 

Keep your chest up and sit by keeping your thighs under the support pad, this keeps you from moving. 

Lower the bar towards your chest by bending at the elbows. 

Pause at the bottom and return to starting position. 

During the workout try to keep your torso almost vertical and neck neutral by looking in front of you. 

Don't look up or down; look straight. 

Lat pulldown is a must-do back workout for mass.

wide grip latpull down

Best workout routine for back Muscles

Exercise

sets

Reps

Deadlift 

3

4-6

Wide grip Lat pulldown 

4

6-8

Bent over barbell rows  

One arm dumbbell rows

3

6-8

Chin-ups 

3

6-8

Straight arm pulldown

3

6-8

*Does not include warm-up sets, do 2-3 warm-up sets with light weights before doing working sets.

Rest for 60- 90 s between sets.This gives your muscles enough time to restore its energy stores.  

Do this workout once every week.

A good workout is not enough for building well developed back. You need to get enough rest and nutrition.

Muscle growth happens outside the gym. So take care of your nutrition and get enough sleep.

-arun

Image credits: https://github.com/everkinetic/data


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back workout, updated, workout


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