How to build your back muscles? This is probably one of the most overlooked and underrated muscle groups there is.
Hopefully after reading this article you will have a new found appreciation for the back. Also you should get some better insight on how to train it properly.
The Importance of the Back Muscles
First off, your back plays an extremely important role in your physique, but unfortunately since it is not within eye shot when you are staring at yourself in the mirror, it often does not get its due.
When I refer to your back I am referring to the entire collection of muscles that range from the back of your neck down to the top of your butt and shoulder to shoulder. All of it.
This collection of muscles is responsible for keeping your spinal column in line and upright.
The muscles in your back are also responsible for pulling your shoulders back and giving you good posture. When the muscles in your back are weak, your posture suffers and your back rounds.
The rounding of your back puts improper pressure on your spine and causes back pain and can lead to injury when you need to bend and/or lift.
We won’t go into a deep lesson on anatomy, so we’ll cover the basics that should matter to you. We’ll start from the bottom and work our way up.
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How To Build Lower Back Muscle
Lower back is the problem area for many people across the country. Sitting at a desk for hours on end places an extreme amount of pressure on your spine and lower back.
This misalignment you suffer through all day needs correcting and lower back exercises are the only way to get it done.
You can do some exercises that target your lower back directly.
You can try back extensions, supermans, romanian deadlifts and even good mornings do the trick (even if they are not high on my recommendation list).
You can also do things that force your lower back to engage and support the exercises you. For example, you could this by altering your position from seated to standing or standing to bent over.
One thing you want to make sure of is – DO NOT ROUND YOUR LOWER BACK!
Rounding your back while working with resistance is not a good thing. All the weight you are working with ends up being supported by your spine and not the muscles that support it.
Want a back injury? There’s a quick ticket to the hospital waiting for you with this technique.
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How To Build Upper Back Muscles
Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)
This part of your back gets way too much attention in my opinion. Before I begin, let me state that the lats are an excellent muscle for your posture and physique.
Well developed lats give your upper body more width and makes your waist look smaller (who doesn’t want that right?).
However, the magazines that you pick up and the guy/girl at the gym who you get your back exercise recommendation from suggest way too many lat exercises and probably have no idea why in the first place.
Anyway, in order to target your lats you can do several different exercises and they all have one major thing in common. Your elbows retract down or back toward your rib cage.
Exercises like: lat pulldowns, seated rows and bent over rows all hit the lats directly and recruit the kind of muscle to build an impressive back.
Like I mentioned above, DO NOT ROUND YOUR BACK when doing back exercises.
When you do lat pulldowns you should lean back and arch your back slightly, pulling the bar down to your chest.
When you do seated rows, sit upright and arch your back slightly and keep it that way as you pull the bar back toward you and even as you get into position for the bent over row your back should maintain a natural arch throughout the lift.
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Rear Delts And Rhomboids
These are the muscles you notice when someone has a well developed back, which is why it is surprising how few people train them properly.
The rear deltoids are part of the shoulder, but their function is to help the muscles of the back in pulling things closer to your body.
Trained properly, these muscles pull your shoulders back and allow you to stand tall, chest out, more naturally.
If these muscles are worked correctly, then it helps to offset the rounding of the shoulders. This gives women the insecure appearance and makes men look like chest training caveman.
Exercises like reverse flys with cables or dumbbells help hit these muscles directly. Bent over rows can also target both of these muscle groups with a slight alteration in your typical range of motion.
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Back Exercises Grip
When it comes to back exercises, grip matters.
If your grip is narrow, then the middle portion of your back is going to get most of the attention and benefit from the exercise.
If your grip is wide, then the muscles in the outer part of your back does most of the work.
Now for my rant. The “back” exercises that you see in magazines are placed there by figure competitors or body builders.
These people train their lats hard for one specific purpose. Width. They must be judged on their physique and what the judges want to see is massive back.
If you think the wider the better, then by all means, keep hitting lats like crazy.
If you are after something a little more normal then you don’t need to do all of the exercises listed for the bulk of your “back” exercise routine.
So, there you have it. Simple basic guide on how to build muscle on back the right way.