Back exercises: a comprehensive guide
These back exercises will help you develop bags of power and prevent injury
Looking in the mirror you can’t see your back, so it’s tempting to ignore your back muscles during training and concentrate on the glory muscles at the front: chest, abs and biceps. However, you ignore your back at your peril. Not only does having a strong back improve your physique, it also helps to correct your posture and prevent injury.
If you spend hours in the gym doing bench presses but give little attention to your back, the overdeveloped muscles in your chest and front shoulders will pull your shoulders forward, making you hunch like a gorilla. Also, a muscle imbalance from too little back training can lead to a lack of shoulder flexibility, which can in turn lead to injuries from badly performed exercises. The moral is: pay as much attention to your back as your front.
Your upper back is criss-crossed with muscles that manipulate your shoulders, allowing you to pull objects towards you and make a shrugging motion. The trapezius muscles (traps) originate at your neck and spread out across your shoulder blades and down your spine. Beneath your arms, your latissimus dorsi (lats) are the wide wings that draw your arms down and in when you do pull-ups. These large muscles are supported by a host of smaller ones that allow your arms and spine to move across a multitude of planes.
Running down the sides of your back bone, the erector spinae muscles do the job of supporting and stabilising your spine whenever you bend. These are the muscles that, if trained properly, will protect you from lower back pain when you do heavy lifts. Along with your abdominal muscles, the erector spinae form part of the core.
In short, working on your back means:
Your back plays an important role in how your entire body functions because it connects to your hips, abdominals, chest, shoulders and neck. Strengthening your back gives you additional power in all those areas too.
A slimmer waist
A broader upper-body makes you look slimmer, even without losing anything from your gut.
Have you ever got an achy lower back from standing up for a long perisod of time? That's because standing up straight and holding your stomach in requires strong muscles throughout your back. The stronger these muscles are, the easier it is for you to maintain good posture.
Here are the exercises that will help you build strong back muscles. To stop you getting bored of back training, we've also come up with alternatives for each one. Click on the links below to open up our form guides.