If you want to build the kind of physique that would look more at home in a 80s pro-wrestling ring, you’ll want to hit the gym with the force of 1000 angry Spartans. Okay, maybe not quite with that much intensity, but you get what we’re trying to say. Basically, you need to be busting your behind in the gym and working your socks off every single time you train. Each time you train you should leave the gym tired and sore, ready to do it all over again the next day. This is where it pays to work the different parts of your anatomy and to constantly switch up your routine.
A huge and powerful back is highly sought-after in the world of bodybuilding, as it can create the illusion of you having a smaller, narrower-looking waist. Despite this, as the back is so difficult to monitor in pictures or in the mirror, many bodybuilders find themselves doing the same back exercises week in and week out, without making any real progress. Here’s a look at some of the most effective exercises proven to strengthen and build up the back.
Hammer Strength equipment is now commonplace in many commercial gyms. When it comes to working the back however, this is where their Iso-Lateral rowing machines really prove effective. By providing resistance through plates, as opposed to a weight stack, less-resistance is picked up via the machine so your back does more. The Iso-Lateral rowing machine targets the largest area of the back specifically working the mid-back, which consists of the rhomboids, teres minor and major, infraspinatus, the lats, and even your upper traps. The great thing about this exercise is that you can either row with both hands at once, or you can perform one handed rows at a time. This makes the machine very versatile. After loading the plates onto the machine, set the seat to your preferred height, place your chest against the pad and grasp both handles with an overhand grip. Now, staying firmly in place, row the handles by bending your elbows, squeezing as you do so.
Dumbbell single arm rows
Another great rowing exercise for working the back is the dumbbell single arm row. This exercise is a classic exercise that couldn’t be simpler to perform. All you need is a bench and a dumbbell, though you can make do without the bench if necessary. It’s a great exercise for targeting the lats, though your upper traps also get a pretty awesome squeeze with each rep as well. To perform this exercise take a dumbbell in your right hand, place your left knee and left hand onto a flat bench, and fix your gaze dead ahead. Now, row the dumbbell up into the air until it grazes your chest. Repeat for as many reps as needed and then repeat the process all over again with the opposite arm.
When it comes to working the middle portion of the lats, close-grip pulldowns are very beneficial. By using a V-bar handle your grip is much narrower and your elbows are much closer to your side. This means that you get a better squeeze with each contraction, and you can get a better depth with each rep. As this exercise is operated via a vertical plane as you pull from above your head, it helps you to better isolate the lats and get a better squeeze. Simply take a seat at a lat pulldown machine with a V-bar handle attached. Select your chosen weight, tuck your knees firmly under the pads, grasp the handle, engage your core, keep your head up, and slowly bring the bar down until it stops just before your chest. Resist the urge to lean back or rock back and forth to gain momentum. Repeat for as many reps as required. To really destroy the back, why not finish with a drop set and perform more reps with a lighter weight, until your back reaches absolute failure?
Believe it or not, but according to many bodybuilders, the humble pull up is actually the most popular and most effective exercise for packing muscle mass onto the back. This surprises a lot of people as the exercise uses nothing but your own bodyweight for resistance. Despite this however, it is one of the toughest exercises to perform, especially if you are carrying more weight. it works the upper and the middle back, so the rhomboids, lats, the traps, the infraspinatus, and the teres major and minor. Best of all is the fact that by adjusting your grip, you can actually target different parts of the back. To perform, grasp an overhead chin up bar with an overhand grip a few inches wider than shoulder-width. Hang freely from the bar until your arms are fully extended. Now, cross your ankles behind you and bend your knees, and slowly focus on pulling yourself up so that your chin is level with the bar, or slightly higher perhaps. Hold for a second, and then slowly return back to the initial starting position and repeat as necessary.
Single arm smith machine row
The smith machine doesn’t get enough love in the world of health and fitness, and it really should. This exercise is great for really isolating the back and is great for those of you looking to perfect your rowing technique. It’s basically a single arm dumbbell row like we looked at earlier, but performed with a smith machine instead of a dumbbell. To perform stand sideways to the smith and grasp the bar in the centre. Keep your body close to the machine, bend your knees slightly for balance and slowly row the bar as if you were rowing with a dumbbell in your hand. Repeat for as many reps as needed and then switch arms and repeat all over again.