Muscles of the back are one of the largest muscle groups of our bodies, along with chest and leg muscles. Therefore, training back muscles is extremely important for the formation of sporty body shape.
I think there is no man on this planet that doesn’t want to have a wide and muscular back. In fact, back muscles make the athlete’s physique powerful and gorgeous, give the body massiveness and a V-shape.
For the uniform development of the body, it is necessary to pay attention to the development of the trapezium, muscles of the shoulders, as well as the muscles of the lower back and core.
I don’t want to overwhelm you and that’s why let’s start step-by-step, shall we?
Below are 8 best back exercises for men that I have been regularly using in my at-home back training and I have seen good results.
The Anatomy of Back Muscles
Before we dig into the exercises, let’s refresh some anatomical knowledge and see what are the main back muscles.
Why it is important to start with acknowledging the anatomy of back muscles?
Well, first of all, the back is one of the most difficult muscle groups for training, often it simply does not grow.
The main problem that I can see in beginners and that I did myself too, is that often they do not feel the back muscles at work, and therefore, they are performing incorrectly some of the compound exercises, while simultaneously overloading the back with isolating exercises.
So, from the anatomical point of view, the back muscles are divided into three segments:
- the trapezius muscles (upper back);
- the latissimus dorsi, rhomboid and dentate muscles (middle back);
- the muscles of the rectifier of the spine (bottom back).
Training the trapezius muscles gives the back massiveness; training the middle back muscles develops the width, and the development of the deep muscles of the rectifiers strengthens the core and lower back.
The Secret of Training Back Muscles Correctly
Throughout the years of training, I have discovered that in fact, there is no special secret of training back muscles for mass growth 🙂 All I had to do is to follow the basic rules of muscle hypertrophy for muscle growth.
First of all, it is important to learn how to correctly perform two or three compound exercises on the back and then weekly increase the working weight in these exercises, performing a low number of repetitions and paying increased attention to the correct execution technique.
What I would like to add here is that the greater the amplitude of the movement of the shoulder blades and the more they are brought together and spread apart in different planes during the exercise, the more effective they will be, ensuring maximum involvement of the back muscles in the work. The grip width, although important, is exclusively secondary.
Another important thing that I have learned is that, first, it is important to learn feeling the connection between the muscles and the brain.
Once I improved this connection, I have been able to perform strength exercises precisely due to the muscles of the back, and not the arms. Only after that, I proceed with increasing the working weight of the workouts.
Knowing your working weight is also important. The use of excessively heavyweight prevents beginners from learning how to feel their back muscles and prevents them from growing properly.
Don’t forget to start the workout with a warm-up to prepare your back for a load. This is important to reduce the risk of injury.
Also, for the same reason, it is extremely important to keep the straight position of the back when performing back exercises.
Best Back Exercises for Men – Training for Mass Growth
The strength training program for developing back muscles presented below is based on combining exercises for developing both the latissimus dorsi and trapezius muscles, as well as on performing exercises to strengthen the lower back.
However, it is important to remember that it is recommended to train back muscles no more than twice a week, to prevent overtraining.
1. Bent-over Barbell Row
This is one of the best compound exercises for the development of the back muscles. It is suitable for both beginners and pros.
It is better to perform bent-over barbell rows at the beginning of the training when there is no fatigue yet.
This exercise involves the latissimus dorsi, the big round muscles, the back of the deltoid muscles, flexors of the arm (biceps, brachial, brachioradialis), and when the shoulder blades are brought together with each other, rhomboid and trapezius muscles are actively working.
Here is a great video that shows how to perform correctly the bent-over row:
2. Barbell Deadlift
The barbell deadlift is one of the five compound exercises for gaining muscle mass. It is often called the king of weightlifting and there is a reason for this.
There are different types of barbell deadlift exercises that involve different muscle groups, from back, chest, and arms to legs muscles.
Whatever type of barbell deadlift you choose, you will never regret it. In order to be able to fully benefit from the deadlift exercise, there is a need to, first of all, strengthen the muscles of the lower back and the core.
If these muscles are weak, there is no way to perform deadlift in the correct way, and this may cause pain in various parts of the spine and in the lower back.
The body during execution is tilted at 45 degrees to the floor, the back is straight, the press is in tension, the knees are slightly bent. At the top of the movement, the elbows should go as high as possible.
Here is a quick video that shows how to correctly perform the classic barbell deadlift:
Pull-ups are a great exercise for working out the entire upper body. It can be done with a wide and narrow grip, targetting different muscles of the upper body.
I would suggest starting the back workout with pull-ups, as well as closing the workouts with them.
If you are a beginner, start pulling up with a variation that implies a narrow grip of the arms and parallel palms.
This will simplify and facilitate the exercise by shifting part of the load from the latissimus dorsi to the biceps and triceps muscles.
However, if you want to exclude as much as possible the work of arm muscles, chose wide grip, but keep in mind though that this reduces the amplitude of movement and this, in turn, implies less contraction of the muscle.
If you don’t know which grip to chose, I would suggest starting with the one that is most comfortable for you and try to observe how your muscles are working. When you will learn to feel your back muscles in work, it will be much easier for you to find the right grip.
To keep the straight position of the back, pull up not to your chin, but to your chest.
Hyperextensions are a great exercise for training back muscles. At the gym, it is usually done using special machines, but it is also possible to incorporate this exercise into a home workout.
When I train at home, I usually use a fit ball instead of the gym machines that allow me to focus on the isolated involvement of the muscle extensors, and also prevents the unnatural back deflection, which often happens when performing a hyperextension in a conventional simulator.
Here is a great video that I have found on Youtube that shows how easy is to do hyperextensions at home:
5. Plank Exercise
The plank exercise is an excellent exercise that I enjoy doing at home. It simultaneously develops the muscles of the abs, back, arms, legs, hips, and buttocks.
There are different variations of the plank exercise that involves different muscle groups. While the classic plank works very well on the buttock and arms muscles, the back muscles and especially the spine is greatly involved in the plank exercise on the elbows.
Take a look at this quick video that greatly explains how to do a plank exercise for beginners:
6. Superman Plank
Along with classic plank exercise, Superman exercise is a variation of plank exercise that develops internal stabilizing muscles of the vertebral section and strengthens the lower back, which is important when performing deadlift and other compound exercises.
Here is a quick video that shows how to correctly do the Superman exercise:
7. One-Hand Traction Dumbbells
To perform this exercise, there is a need for a flat horizontal surface. Put your right foot on the bench (I used to use a simple chair when I hadn’t a special weight training bench), bending it at the knee, and also rest against it with your hand.
Hold the dumbbell in your other hand, lowering it down. It is important to keep your back straight.
The task is to pull the dumbbell to the chest, pointing the elbow back, and then, lower your hand down.
8. Bending Dumbbell Tractions
This exercise with dumbbells for the latissimus dorsi is performed from a standing position.
The initial position is standing straight, bend your knees slightly and take the dumbbells, holding them in front of you.
It is still necessary to bend so that the back is even and parallel to the floor. The task is to lift the dumbbells to the belt while directing the elbows back.
After fixing the position, return to the initial position. It is important to do the exercise slowly.
The Bottom Line
These are 8 exercises that I often use in my back workouts at home. These exercises are also suitable and may be highly beneficial for women too. They don’t require a lot of equipment and there is no need to travel to the gym.
Of course, there are many other great exercises for the back muscles, but that wasn’t the goal of my article to comprise them all.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article and now, you know better what are the best back exercises for men.
If you have any questions or thoughts about the above aspects, or you have something to add or share your story, please leave them in the comments section below and I will get back to you asap.
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All the best,