Back muscles are located on a back side of our upper body. They cover it from our butt to the bottom of the scull. It is quiet large and strong muscle group.
Well-developed back muscles give us this nice V-shape. This muscle group is responsible for our posture and provide the support for our spine and head.
Anatomy of back muscles
The most important muscles of the back are:
- Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) – the widest and the largest muscle of our back (kind of big triangle below each shoulder),
- Trapezius (Traps) – muscle between the shoulders,
- Erector Spinae (Spinal Erectors) – group of muscles running along the spine.
Main function of back muscles is pulling things back (rowing motion) and pulling our body up (or pulling objects down). Spinal erectors are extending our spine (straightening) and stabilizing it.
Exercises for back muscles
The most effective exercises for muscles of the back are:
- Deadlift – overall mass and strength,
- Pull-ups/Chin-ups – wideness (V-shape),
- Barbell Row – thickness.
There are also plenty additional exercises for this muscle group: 1-Arm Dumbbell Row, T-bar Row, Cable Row, Pull-Down, Pull-Over…
Lower Back – Spinal Erectors
The Erector Spinae muscles run through the whole length of the back. They cover spine from the bottom to the top, however they’re visible only at the lower part of the back.
Function of spinal erectors is to extend our spine, stabilize and support it. They are hit very hard by Deadlift but they also work during Barbell Row. If you want to give them some direct work you can do:
- Good Mornings,
- Romanian Deadlift,
- Back Extensions.
Exercises for lower back muscles without a weight: Alternated Supermans, Bird-Dogs, Stability Ball Back Extensions.
Workout examples for back muscles
Below you can find few workout examples for different stages of bodybuilding training:
- Pull Downs 15/15
- Back Extensions 12/12 – lower back
Add another set of Pull Downs and Back Extensions (15-12 repetitions) after week or two of training.
- Pull Downs 12/10/8
- 1 Arm Dumbbell Row 10/8/6
- Back Extensions (with weight) 12/10/8
- Chin-Ups 12/10/8
- Barbell Row 10/8/6
- Pull Downs (behind the neck) 12/10/8
- Romanian Deadlifts (12/10/8)
- Deadlift 12/10/8/6
- Pull-Ups 10/8/6/6
- Cable Row 12/10/8/6
- Good Mornings 12/10/8/6
To build big back muscles you have to focus on 3 main exercises: Deadlift, Pull-ups, Rows and their variations. As you progress you can add more sets and exercises but not too many. Muscle’s grow is caused by progressive overload (adding more weight over time) not by increasing the volume (adding more and more sets).
Last exercise in each workout is for lower back, however you don’t have to train it together with your back muscles. You can work out your spinal erectors with any other body part you like for example chest or legs. This isn’t a big difference.
Because we can’t see our back muscles in the mirror we often neglect them. Most of people focus too much on their chest and by avoiding pulling exercises they develop muscle imbalances – strong, tight chest and weak, round back. When your back muscles are too weak, your chest will stop to grow as well. You have to work all body parts equally to keep growing and to develop strong and good looking physique. If you want to be good at bench press you must be good at opposite exercise – row – as well.
Even if you can’t see your back other people do, especially judges during bodybuilding competitions. Besides there’s nothing more impressive than wide, thick, V-shape back that is actually seen even from the front. It gives us nice posture and supports the spine which is very important during work, any sport and general life.