Man training for a strong back

10 Exercises For A Stronger Back

15 min read

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19 Mar 2024


Hack beast mode

  1. The 10 best exercises for a stronger back
  2. How to build muscle
  3. How to use strength training to build a stronger back
  4. The best dietary choices for a stronger back
  5. Which foods should you include in my bodybuilding diet?
  6. When should you rest?
  7. Will you need to change your lifestyle?
  8. Your checklist for a stronger back

When you talk about going to the gym for a workout, the first thing that comes to mind is bulging biceps and six-packs. 

The back muscles only get a brief mention, but if you want an all-round kickass look, it should be as big a priority as the rest of your body.

If you want to maintain proper posture, reduce the risk of back pain and issues with your spine, and maintain strength when you're pushing harder than ever in the gym, you'll need your back muscles to be rock solid. 

Getting your back muscles into top shape will also help other areas of your body, as it will help with your range of motions, meaning you can put in better quality reps and achieve more gains. 

It will also help with reducing the risk of injury. When you pick up a heavy weight, any flaws or weaknesses in your back will be exposed. And if you put your back out, your training schedule will likely be derailed.

Choosing the right exercises for your back is pretty easy. You can pick and choose from several different workouts designed to work different muscle groups, get your back stronger than ever, and look amazing.

So, if you're struggling with finding the proper exercise to strengthen your back muscles, we've got your back.

The 10 best exercises for a stronger back

Man doing back workout

The key to getting the best out of any muscle group is to be consistent. You’ve got to ‘train heavy’ and put your all into every rep. 

Back exercises are no different to any other type of bodybuilding or muscular training. Use the progressive overload method to gradually increase the intensity of your back exercises by using heavier weights or adding more sets. But only when you’re 100% sure you’re ready to step it up.  

The best exercises for a more muscular back include several movements targeting different areas.

A good mixture of vertical and horizontal pulling movements will help ensure all back areas are trained effectively. The correct technique must always be followed, and each rep should be performed smoothly to avoid injury risk and maximize the effect. 

If you are new to this type of exercise, it's important to consult a medical professional if you have any concerns as to whether your body will be able to cope with the stress and demands of resistance training.

If you’re able to get a certified personal trainer to help with your back exercises, so much the better.  Straight line

Here are some of the best exercises if you want your back to look its absolute best.

1. Deadlift

One of the best back exercises that will target the lower muscles, the deadlift, should be performed in the following way.  

Your starting position should be with your feet slightly apart and the bar over your midfoot. Push your hips back, bend your knees and grab the bar. 

When executing the lift, try to drive your knees out against your arms, take a deep breath, brace your core, and slowly extend your chest. 

Push down with your feet to lift the bar, pushing your hips forward as it passes your knees. 

When you lower the bar, push your hips back and slide it close to your thighs, bending your knees as it passes them. Then return to the starting position. Repeat for the required number of reps. 

2. Pull-ups

Pull-ups are the perfect back exercise for strengthening the upper muscles and legs.  

To perform the exercise, grab the pull-up bar (palms down) and hang with your arms extended and your legs extended and lifted from the floor. 

As you pull up, your elbows should be pulled down. Once your chin passes the bar, you can slowly lower yourself until your arms are straight again. 

3. Barbell row

Barbell row

This exercise targets the middle and upper back muscles.

Weighted rowing movements can have a big effect on your major back muscles. When you begin, your midfoot should be under the bar, and your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Grab the bar with your palms facing downwards, with a slight bend in your knees. Make sure your back is straight. 

When you pull up, the bar should go to your lower abdomen, and you should hold your breath during the pull to help with stability.

4. Face pulls

The rear deltoids, the middle trapezius and the rhomboids are the primary muscles targeted in the face pull exercise.  

Grip the rope using a neutral grip so the palms face each other. Take a step backwards and adopt a shoulder-width or staggered stance. 

Begin the reps by pulling the rope towards your face, pulling the rope apart as you do so. Keep your elbows pointed upwards and to the side as you pull, then return to the starting position.

5. Inverted rows

These back exercises are designed to strengthen the upper body, particularly the trapezius.

The bar should be set at waist height, and you should lie face-up under it. Grab the bar with your hands slightly more than shoulder width—and keep your body straight while pulling yourself upwards. Always lead with your chest.

6. Single-arm dumbbell row

An exercise that helps balance strength between both sides of the back.

To perform this exercise, your feet should be at shoulder width before you begin. Grab the dumbbell and drive your elbows to "row" the weight. Rest, then repeat.

7. Chest supported row

This upper body exercise works for various muscle groups in the back, including the latissimus dorsi, which span your mid and lower back and connect to your upper arms and the trapezius and rhomboids. 

Your bench should be set at around 45 degrees, depending on which part of the back you want to work. 

A lower angle works the mid-section and lats; a more upright position will work the upper back better.

With a dumbbell in each hand, straddle the bench and rest your chest on the pad. Your starting position should have your feet flat on the floor as you pull your shoulder blades forward to begin the exercise. 

Slowly raise the dumbbells to your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Then, gradually lower your arms back down again to the starting position. 

8. Lat pulldown

The lat pulldown primarily focuses on the latissimus dorsi muscles.

To pull this bad boy off, sit on the pulldown machine and stretch your arms with your feet shoulder-width apart and firmly on the floor. 

Grab the bar so it's in the middle of your hand, and pull it down towards your upper chest. Keep your elbows in while doing this, and ensure you're in control of the weight.

For those working out at home, the following exercises are perfect for working the back muscles.

9. Resistance band pulls

This exercise will work on both your upper back and shoulders.

Resistance bands are great for strengthening the back muscles. From a standing position, grab both ends and hold the band at chest level, with your arms extended in front of you, then spread them to pull the band tighter before returning to the starting position.

10. Glute bridges

A perfect workout for really training the glutes (butt muscles), and exercising your entire posterior chain.

The starting position should have you lying on your back and slightly bending your knees. Your feet should be flat on the ground. Keeping your head on the ground and your arms alongside your body, lift your hips slowly until your body is straight. 

Keep your code solid, and lower back down again to the starting position. For variation and progressive overload, you can add weights to your hips.  

How to build muscle

To build muscle effectively, there are key strategies that you must follow. Each one is important, and skipping even just one of them can leave you exposed and at risk of failure or injury. 

For instance, you might need the proper nutrition to go into a training workout and get injured. Alternatively, you could power through your workouts day after day without giving yourself adequate rest and burn yourself out.

Each of the disciplines should be taken on board to get the right balance for your training regime and to ensure you're always looking after your body. 

Pushing yourself to new limits takes guts. It takes a tremendous amount of both physical and mental energy, so you need to prepare yourself and get up to speed.

How to use strength training to build a stronger back

Man doing strength training

The fundamental part of muscle building is resistance training. You are pushing your muscles hard to tear and regrow as stronger muscles. High-intensity training will help to stimulate muscle growth and create bigger and stronger muscles.

Resistance training can be performed with free weights or weight machines. You can even use your body weight. 

Strength training is designed to put the maximum amount of stress on your muscles so that the fibers will rip to create bigger and stronger muscles. 

In addition to muscle growth, resistance training also has other health benefits, like…

  • Improved overall health
  • Better metabolism
  • Reduced body fat
  • Greater mental health
  • Increased bone strength
  • Reduction of injury risk
  • Improved cardio health
  • Better weight management
  • Greater cognitive function
  • A higher VO2 max
  • Less chance of health issues such as heart disease and diabetes

The best dietary choices for a stronger back

Your dietary intake will play a big part in your progress. Packing in the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats is essential to give your body the fuel it needs to cope with the heavy demands of your workouts. 

Adding a variety of whole foods into your diet will ensure you receive a wide range of micronutrients essential for muscle development. 

The workout process will require plenty of energy-boosting carbs, and the muscle repair process will draw heavily on amino acids from the protein you consume, as well as essential vitamins and minerals to keep your body strong and healthy during both the workout and repair process.

When should you eat?

When looking to fuel your body, your main concern should be keeping it adequately topped up so that you're ready to go at a moment's notice. 

This means eating regularly and not skipping meals. Many athletes prefer to eat small meals every few hours to keep topped up with essential nutrients for energy and muscle repair. 

A decent mix of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats means you shouldn't experience a ‘crash’ during your workout, as you'll have all bases covered.

When should you hydrate?

You'll lose a lot of water from your body when working out, so drinking water regularly is essential to ensure you don't get dehydrated. 

It's a good idea to carry some around with you if you're on the move to get into the habit of drinking water at regular intervals.

Which foods should you include in my bodybuilding diet?

You need to pack the right nutrients to support your efforts if you want a more muscular back.

Let’s take a look.

The best protein-rich foods for a back workout

Protein rich foods

Your body will need a considerable boost of amino acids if it's going to do the repair job you need. 

You must consume sufficient protein to support your workout journey, aiding muscle growth and repair. 

You should be looking to take around 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day, and this should be spread across your meals.

Here are a few of the best protein sources from whole foods.

Eggs

Eggs have been the bodybuilder's best friend since the dark ages, and while some prepare to eat them raw, it's not always safe to do so. 

A better option is to cook them and introduce them as part of a protein-rich meal. Egg protein is one of the richest protein sources and should be high on your dietary list.  

Meat

Meat is one of the richest protein sources, and beef, chicken, fish, and pork are perfect. It's essential to keep the fat levels to a minimum; for example, baking is always better than frying. 

Plant protein will be the choice of vegetarians and vegans. Whole grains, beans, rice, nuts, and quinoa are all protein-rich.

The best healthy fats for a stronger back

Choosing food that is rich in healthy fats will go a long way to supporting your muscle-building journey. 

Consuming adequate healthy fats is essential for maintaining your hormone balance. A few perfect choices include

Salmon

If you're looking for a muscle-building superfood, look no further. Salmon is a rich source of high-quality protein and healthy fats. Omega-3 fatty acids support muscle building and prevent muscle protein breakdown.

Avocados

Avocados are another great source of fatty acids and the perfect choice for vegans. They're also great for your overall health, as they're full of antioxidants and vitamin E. Avocados will help you fight immunity and promote cardiovascular health.

Eggs (again!)

Once again, eggs get a big shout-out, but this time, it's due to its healthy saturated fats and unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. 

The perfect breakfast choice to get you energized and ready to get on the starting blocks.

Nuts

Great for when you get the snacking urge, as they'll not steer you off the path. In fact, they're perfect for boosting your energy and are great for all-round health. 

Those exceptionally high in essential healthy fats (the big hitters) are almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts (rich in omega-3 fatty acids).

The best carbohydrates for a stronger back

Healthy carbs

Carbs are essential to give you the energy boost and the reserves to keep going when needed. 

They’re also crucial for assisting recovery. Complex carbs will release glucose steadily and help sustain energy levels.

Whole Grain Pasta

You know you're on the right track if you see the words ‘whole grain’ together. Pasta is perfect for packing in the carbs, even more so if you choose the whole grain option.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes—a high source of carbs—vitamin B6, and fiber, should be a regular part of your diet, either on their own or as a side portion.  

Brown Rice 

Wholegrain brown rice is high in carbs, and bodybuilders tend to have their cupboards stocked high. Whether a snack or part of a main course, it'll give you the carb boost you need.

Oats

Oats are one of the purest forms of carbs and will give you sustained energy and a host of other health benefits.

The best vitamins for a stronger back

Vitamins are essential for your overall health, even more so if you push your body to its limits. Let's look at the essential vitamins to look out for.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is perfect for supporting muscle growth and boosting energy. Bananas, eggs, and meat are a decent source of B3.

Vitamin B6

If we increase our nitric oxide levels, our blood and oxygen flow is greatly increased. This means we can push harder during workouts, leading to more significant gains. 

Vitamin B6 is perfect for helping to raise nitric oxide levels and promoting red blood cell production. B6 can be found in chicken, peanuts, soybeans, oats, and bananas.

Vitamin B12

This is another vitamin that can help increase nitric oxide levels and help deliver oxygen more freely around your body. The best sources of B12 are fish, dairy products, cereals, and chicken.

Vitamin D

The ‘sunshine’ vitamin is essential for muscle growth. Those who lack vitamins tend to feel tired and lack strength. The best nutritional sources include salmon, eggs, and fortified cereals. 

Vitamin C

Most commonly known for helping with the common cold, vitamin C helps with muscle tissue repair and iron absorption. Citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, and potatoes are excellent food choices.

The best minerals for a stronger back

Taking the correct minerals is also essential for a healthy body; two in particular should be high on your priority list.

Iron

A lack of iron in your body can lead to all sorts of health complications, so keeping an eye on your diet and ensuring you are consuming enough is essential. Iron is excellent for raising nitric oxide levels and transporting oxygen around your body more freely. Iron is high quality in meat, legumes, nuts, and seeds. 

Magnesium

You should never underestimate the power of magnesium, especially when you're looking to make big gains. 

Magnesium helps support muscle function and gives you an energy boost when you're pushing to the max. Whole grains, nuts, and seeds are great choices.

The best supplements for a stronger back

Woman supplementing for a strong back

Even with the best planning, there can still be nutritionary gaps in your diet, and any weak links will undoubtedly be uncovered when you train. 

Taking supplements will help to plug those gaps and ensure you get enough of the nutrients you need to help you smash your workout every time. 

Your supplements should include all of the vitamins and minerals we've already discussed to ensure you are plugging any gaps in your nutrition and giving yourself the extra resources to push through the barriers. 

The essentials are…

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Multivitamins

Natural supplements work best as you're unlikely to be troubled by side effects.

When should you rest?

You should allow 48 hours of rest for each muscle group you work on before starting to work on them again. The simple reason is that there are no easy days at the gym. 

Every workout will have you pushing yourself to the max, and if you try and attempt that every day, your muscles won't have time to repair themselves. 

Not only will you feel burned out, but there will be no muscle growth, too.

Will you need to change your lifestyle?

Your lifestyle choices will seriously affect how far you go with your training. Sacrifices must be made if you want to make the most significant gains possible. 

This means eight hours of quality sleep each night and no drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. You must be totally on your game if you want to make it.  

Your checklist for a stronger back

If you want to strengthen your back and take your strength to the next level, you must be disciplined and tick all the boxes. 

You need to be on top of…

  • Your workout plan
  • Your nutrition
  • Your supplements
  • Your rest days
  • Your lifestyle

If you've not given your back the attention it deserves, now’s the time to strike. Getting the muscle groups worked, and building strength and muscle in that area will boost confidence every time you hit the gym. 

You'll find a strength in your core that will help you to push through workouts on other areas of your body more efficiently.

Crazybulk's massive range of hardcore bodybuilding supplements are designed to take your body to the next level and are the perfect nutritional support for your back workouts. Go get some.

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