Look great this summer by utilising these top exercises to build a strong, sexy and defined back. One thing I’ve noticed in my five plus years in the fitness industry is that girls are finally starting to get it! Resistance training doesn’t make you big and bulky, it does however, burn fat and gradually build lean tissue for a toned, defined look. With this acceptance, a desire for improved development has risen of body parts such as the shoulders, arms and back. It’s no longer just about the legs and bum. The back is comprised of fairly large muscle groups, so training it if you want improved body composition is a wise choice as it will burn plenty of calories. From a functional and performance standpoint, back training will also improve posture and prevent injury. Here’s the top exercises, and for a decent back workout pick 3-4 of them and perform for the prescribed reps and sets.
The almighty barbell deadlift. Despite being much more than just a back exercise, it’s really great at working the erector muscles of the lower back and the lats. It’ll also work the hamstrings and quads as well the arms for a total muscle building and fat burning movement. Begin by standing with your toes just under a loaded barbell. Keep your back flat and core engaged whilst you squat down and literally pick the bar up off the ground. Carefully return the bar to the floor and keep it at arms length at all times. I’d also encourage people to perform deadlifts earlier on in their workouts when fresh and strong.
3-4 sets | 4-8 reps | 2010 tempo | 90 seconds rest
The King of upper body exercises! If you can do them great, if not you can make use of a heavy duty resistance band or an assisted pull-up machine to help you. Categorised as a vertical pull, this exercise will work everything from the lats, to the rhomboids, to the biceps to the forearms. Hang from a pull-up bar squeeze your glutes and core and pull yourself up until your chest meets the bar. Aim to squeeze the shoulder blades together whilst at the top. Return yourself under control to the start position and remember to go all the way back to a dead-hang. For additional reading on how to perform pull-ups correctly, click here.
3-4 sets | 8-12 reps | 2010 tempo | 60 seconds rest
Straight Arm Cable Pulldown (pictured)
This exercise makes a great finisher to any back workout as it really isolates the lats for that defined back. Attach a straight bar to a cable pulley station set on the highest setting. With your knees slightly soft, tip forward at the waist slightly. Keep your arms straight whilst pulling the bar down to your body. Squeeze the lats in the bottom position, before returning to the start.
3 sets | 12-15 reps | 3010 tempo | 60 seconds rest
Rope Face Pull
Rope face pulls are a brilliant exercise to really add detail and shape to the back. You’ll particularly feel this one working the rhomboids, rear delts and traps. This is also a wise corrective exercise to perform if you work a desk job as its great for posture. Attach a rope to a cable pulley station set at around head height. Take a split stance, keep your core engaged and spine tall whilst pulling the rope in towards your neck line. For enhanced recruitment of the upper back try and pull the rope apart in the top position. Return the rope under control to the start. Keep your elbows up high throughout the movement.
3 sets | 12-15 reps | 3011 tempo | 60 seconds rest
One Arm Dumbbell Row
This horizontal pull exercise is similar to the pull-up in the respect that it works lots of muscle tissue within one movement. It’s certainly what you’d call a “bang for your buck” exercise. Place one knee and one arm on a flat bench. Keep your back flat and core engaged whilst you pull a dumbbell up in an arc motion to the side of the body. Return the dumbbell under control until you feel a mild stretch in the lats and repeat for reps.
3-4 sets | 8-12 reps | 3011 tempo | 60 seconds rest