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13 Killer Back Exercises To Chisel Out A Defined, V-Shaped, Undulating Back

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back exercises, best back exercises, best back exercises to build muscle, best lat exercises, best teres exercises, best rhomboid exercises, best trap exercises, best trapezius exercises, best lower back exercise, erector spinae exercises, teres exercises, rhomboids, rhomboid exercises, lat exercises

Everyone loves blasting the life out of their abs and pecs. But the backside needs equal love, too — and we’re not just talking about your butt. You CAN’T neglect your back.

And why would you? Not only does a well-developed, V-shaped back project Bane-like strength and radiate aesthetics, but it’s also critical for maintaining strong posture, muscular balance, and a compact core. Overworked, dominant pecs, abs, and front delts (the front part of your shoulders) cause the body to hunch forward, which often produces slouched, “gorilla” posture.

You don’t want that to happen. Consistently thrashing your back muscles is essential in order to keep the body aligned in optimal position.

Plus, back strength is functional. The next time you’re rowing a kayak, climbing an oak tree, picking up your grandma’s couch, or dangling from a fire escape, well, you’ll thank me. Powerful pecs aren’t quite as useful.

Anatomy of the Back, back, back muscles, back anatomy, muscles in the back, back anatomy diagram, muscles of the back

A quick anatomy lesson: the “back” isn’t actually a muscle itself; it’s the composite of various muscles, each of which varies in size and prominence. Here are few of the biggies —

  • The lats and trapezius (aka traps) span the largest area, running from the base of the neck all the way down to the hips. They make up the bulk of the back’s muscle mass and generate the most force. The traps aren’t just the humps on top of your shoulders — they also dominate the inner part of the upper back.
  • The rhomboids, infraspinatus, and teres are smaller muscles that run diagonally across the width of the upper back. Aesthetically, they add major definition and distinct cuts behind the scapula (your shoulder blades). They’re typically hit while working the lats and traps (via rows, pull-ups, etc.).
  • The erector spinae runs vertically in columns along the vertebrae and makes up most of the muscle in the lower back. It’s a critical element in all-around core strength.

Smart training effectively smashes all regions of the back in balance. We’ve pulled together 13 of the top exercises to absolutely thrash the back from top-to-bottom, stimulate fresh new growth, and chisel out powerful lats, traps, and everything in between.

Throw 4-6 of your favorites into each back workout — 3 sets of 12 reps/exercise is standard — and rotate often.

 

13 Killer Back Exercises To Chisel Out A Defined, V-Shaped, Undulating Back


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Back Exercise 1: Deadlifts


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Primary Muscles: Back (All)

  • 1. For each rep start in a low squat position and grab the bar with an overhand grip (A).
  • 2. Sit back in your hips, push through your heels, ascend upward, and raise your torso until you’re in a full stand (B) — maintain a tight core and straight back throughout the motion.
  • 3. Slowly lower under control by dropping your torso and hips down until the bar touches the floor (A).

 

Video Demo:

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Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  • Visenya Francés

    Did some of these last night and man I am feeling the results. ouch!

  • Michael Corleone

    LOL I was looking for new workouts and it turns out I already do these.

  • Dom Marzullo

    How many reps do you recommend for each work out?

    • To generalize, try to stay in the 8-12 rep range for general growth, aesthetics, etc.

      If you’re lifting heavy, predominantly for strength gains, 3-5 reps is ideal.

  • Chris Yamashita

    For Back Extensions, the best and most efficient way is to extend your arms over your head with or without a weight. If you aren’t educated or understand the physics of levers, then just imagine doing the Bent-Over T-Bar Rows. Its the same idea of holding the bar before the weights, at the weights, and beyond the weights. Plus, I always endorse stabilizing muscles being used for workouts.

  • Mickey Logan

    Too bad there’s so much pop-up crap on this site. It’s impossible to read.

    • Alibaster

      Get Adblock

  • Akash

    Great list of back workouts…found a few new ones right here…gonna try those:) quite helpful

  • Roxanne Stickler

    These seem to be more aimed at guys than gals.

    • Laura McFarland-Taylor

      Not at all – I already do most of these and I’m not a guy. 🙂

      They really help with any lower back issues you may have, but if you do have lower back issues, discuss which of these exercises are best for your particular problem with a PT. Start with light weights and two sets instead of three. Also make sure you stretch afterwards.

  • Crystal

    Excited to try these 🙂

  • Blair

    Just wanted to let you know your shortcodes are showing on mobile devices.

  • Ricky, Bubbles & Julian

    is it just me or are there a lot of ads covering the material? i clicked refresh to start over but the ads actually cover part of the video tutorials

  • Hamza Nadeem

    Interesting article. I really like it. I think you will also find this article interesting. It’s about “Workout Routine”. Here is the link to visit http://nourishtheplanet.com/2015/06/daily-workout-routine-a-fitness-plan-for-summer/

  • Excellent exercises…. but what about the reps and sets? Which ones would be the best for back fat loss? Also, you have said 13… I think there are 14 exercises!!

    • Bob

      There’s no such thing as spot reduction

      • I never mentioned anything about spot reduction. I was asking about reps and sets…

        • hersbilly

          “back fat loss” is spot reduction 🙂

          weight lifting in general will help you burn calories, which will result in fat loss in the long run. also, the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn, even when resting.

          cardio will also help a lot with fat loss.

    • jake

      Bobs right, what the hell is back fat loss? If you want to lose fat I would recommend a heavy dose of cardio with your weight training and making sure you bu rn more carbs than you take in, try a healthy fast. And as for reps and sets, every body is different you will have to figure out what works for you, be sure to start off small so you don’t hurt yourself. And make sure you make a good balance for your weight and reps, typically higher reps of lighter weights will build leaner muscles and put you at less risk of injury than fewer reps of high weight which will build you larger and bulkier muscles. Personally I like to find myself somewhere in the middle. But you will have to find out for yourself how to do your workout best.

    • In general, do 10-12 reps/set for muscle growth. 4-8 will focus more on strength than aesthetics.

      Higher rep counts are designed for building muscular endurance and are better used to infuse more cardio into what you’re doing (think kettlebell swings).

  • Bassel Saleh

    How many of these should i do ? how do i choose which ones ?

  • I’ve been a fan of the dumbell pullover perpendicular to the bench with your hips raised (it’s more difficult and engages the core more) for year’s. It ultimately helps bench press because you have more strength to keep the bar steady.

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