Fitness Writings & Musings

fitness, Men's Physique, NPC

Building a Better Back


Have you ever noticed how many sayings and clichés exist regarding the back? Seriously, just think about it for a minute—I can wait.

Okay, are you done? Excellent!

More than likely, the first cliché that popped into your mind was Arnold’s “I’ll be back!” catchphrase from Terminator. While this cliché doesn’t have anything to do with the back per se, it counts because Arnold said it and the man’s back is huge! If you took the time to make a mental list of back-related sayings and clichés then your list might look a little something like the following:

  • Don’t get your back up
  • Back-off
  • Back attack
  • Don’t lack in back
  • Backed up against a wall
  • Don’t look back, something may be gaining on you
  • Lazy lats

I mean really, do we need this many clichés for a single body part?

Well maybe the sheer number of sayings underscores just how important the back is to your overall physique. After all they say that bodybuilding competitions are won from the back, right. So, if this is indeed accurate, how much time do you spend thinking about your back?

If you’re like many, you may spend little to zero time thinking about your back. Let’s face it, the back isn’t sexy like biceps or chest. Heck most of the time you can’t even see your back in the mirror and forget about scratching your back without some assistance.  Sexiness notwithstanding, developing a solid back is fundamental.

Fundamentals: Muscles of the back

The back is a complex array of small and large muscles groups. The spine, for example, is bordered by several muscles that are responsible for the movement of individual vertebrae and the spine as a whole. Other muscles of the back facilitate the movement of the neck and shoulders.

By and large the most worked muscles of the back are the trapezius, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids and erector spinae.


Ok, so now that we have a working understanding of the back’s structure, let’s examine how we can tackle this beast.

Working the back

Given that the back is a complex muscle, it’s important that it be worked from a variety of angles to ensure that all of the muscle groups are effectively targeted and engaged. A good way to think about this may be to divide the back into sections: upper, middle and lower.

Depending upon your goals and or development, you will want to mix and match the following exercises to develop a workout plan that is best for you. In general you should not perform more than 6 exercises in a given workout.

  • Lat pull down: 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Shrugs (barbell): 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Standing Pull downs: 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Pull ups (wide grip): 3-4 sets, failure
  • Seated row: 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Low barbell row: 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Back extensions: 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps
  • Deadlifts: 3-4 sets, 8-10 reps*

*Deadlifts effective target the entire back if done correctly.

With each of the exercises, you’ll want to focus on form. If you’re uncertain of how to perform a specific movement, just direct your browser to YouTube, which has an abundance of instructional exercise videos.

If you’re feeling really adventurous you can navigate to’s “Find Exercises by Bodypart.” The feature, located in the Workouts section, allows you to identify numerous exercises targeting a specific body part. The site features more than 100 exercises for the back alone. And, in addition to providing detailed information regarding each exercise, the site features demonstration videos to ensure that you are performing the movements accurately and safely.

Good luck on building a better back!


Instagram: Fitnupe1911


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This entry was posted on February 8, 2013 by in bodybuilding, fitness and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

bodybuilding, fitness, mens physique, regie, regie simmons

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