The Best Back Workouts – Killer Exercises For The Back!

By | January 30, 2015

The Best Back Workouts – Killer Exercises For The Back!

The Best Back WorkoutsBuilding a muscular back is something that people tend to overlook quite a lot. Everybody is obsessing over the show muscles such as arms and chest.

But to really add size and posture, which are both aesthetichally very pleasing to the human eye you shouldn’t overlook the importance of a well build back. That is why I wanted to list some killer exercises for building the best back workouts.

See the bigger back you have the bigger you’ll also look. Did you know that you have two thirds of your upper body mass located in your back? You’ve probably never seen a guy who looks really good from the front and doesn’t have a great back also.

A muscular back will make you stronger, look bigger, look more muscular than a well built front!

There is a couple of simple and effective principles that will yield you the best possible results for developing strong and big back so let’s go over them so you can start to implement them to your routines if you’re not already doing it!

The Best Back Workouts: Compound Exercises

So to build a strong and muscular back you should build your routines around basic compound exercises. And what are these you might ask? Basically all the multijoint exercises performed with a free weight, be it barbell or dumbbell. Here is a list of the most effective and common ones:

  • Deadlift
  • Barbell Row
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Chin-Up / Pull-Up
  • Lat Pulldown
  • (Back Extensions)

These simple and effective movements will be basically all you will need in order to really make a difference. They will produce the best anabolic response from your body to produce more growth hormone which will lead to better gains in muscle mass.

Also all of these exercises will carry a great degree to your everyday tasks such as picking stuff up or carrying basically anything. It’s not a coincidence why the strongest people in the world have monstrous backs and they are strong as hell in all of those exercises listed above. For example you can look the deadlift numbers of all of the world’s strongest man competitors.

On top of that these exercises can dramatically improve your sport specific abilities and strength, the best one being the deadlift!

Using Proper Form During Your Back WorkoutsThe Best Back Workouts

This is something also you’ll have to pay a lot of attention. Using proper technique when lifting weights is extremely important to avoid injuries and promote a natural posture.

Injuries are the last thing you’ll want to happen but they are relatively easy to avoid if you take time to study the correct lifting technique, and it’s not a rocket science to be honest but it involves a lot of experimenting on your end!

Movements like deadlift are great and if done right are really one of the most important exercises you can do in order to correct your posture and build muscle. But if it’s done incorrectly it can bust you up really bad!

I’ll go over the technique a bit in the next section…

#1 The Deadlift

The number one exercise what you should perform when you step into the gym to build your back is the deadlift. It uses every muscle in your body and really gives your body that anabolic response which will promote muscle growth to the next level!

As mentioned above the lifting technique for this lift is VERY important so don’t start going heavy before you’ll have the basic understanding how to perform it.

The most important part is not to round your lower back. You should aim to keep neutral spine all throughout the movement. There are 3 important pointers to keeping that back straight which are:

  1. Upper Back Tightness
  2. Butt Back With Neutral Lower Back
  3. Drive Weight With Glutes

These all three pointers will prevent your lower back from rounding. But for you to understand better, watch this great video to really grasp the concept!

With these rules you’ll be deadlifting the right way in no time. But it’s always a good option to video yourself or ask someone who has the knowledge to check your technique.

#2 Horizontal Pulling ExerciseThe Best Back Workouts

Fancy name but this basically just means that you’re pulling something from the ground up. And the exercise we’re after here are:

  • Barbell Row
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Row
  • T-Bar Row

To perform these movements keep your core tight and shoulder blades retracted to maintain neutral spine and pull with your back rather than your arm.

One good cue is to imagine pulling with your elbow and imagine the forearms and hands just as a hook to hold on this will usually drive more attention to your back rather than biceps and forearms.

#3 Vertical Pulling ExerciseThe Best Back Workouts

Again those fancy names but basically this just means that you’re pulling yourself up to something. The movements we are after here are

  • Chin-Ups / Pull-Ups
  • Lat Pulldown if you’re not strong enough to do chin-ups.

These exercise will target a bit different regions on your back compared to Horizontal pulls but by doing the deadlift, horizontal and vertical pulling movements you can be rest assured that you’re doing enough work to build that big and strong back!

Again with these exercises try to keep the tension on your back rather than the arms.

The Structure Of Back Workouts

So now that we know all the basic principles let’s see how you should structure a perfect back workout!

  1. Deadlift
  2. Barbell Row
  3. Pull-Up
  4. Back Extensions


  1. Deadlift
  2. Pull-Up
  3. One-Arm Dumbbell Row
  4. Back Extensions


  1. Deadlift
  2. Barbell Row
  3. One-Arm Dumbbell Row
  4. Pull-Up
  5. Lat Pulldown
  6. Back Extensions

It doesn’t really matter how you stucture the workout as long as you’re doing the deadlift first and after that your choices of vertical or horizontal movements.

Rep Ranges & Sets For Back Workouts

There are lot of stuff regarding rep ranges but let me get this straight. Basically this is what most people will tell you:

  • Low rep range for strength 1-3 repetitions per set
  • Mid rep range for strength and hypertrophy 5-7 reps per set
  • High rep range for hypertophy 8-15 reps per set

To be honest these are just guidelines for you. You should incorcporate all these rep ranges to your training and not just stick with one. Especially when you’re starting out you should keep the weight light and stay in the high rep range to ensure that you’re training with the proper form. If you jump right into the low reps or mids and use heavy load without a good technique you will end up hurting yourself.

So start with anything from 12-15 repetitions and stick with that if you’re a beginner.

And what comes to sets you should do for the main lift such as deadlift only 2 WORKING SETS. And what I mean by working sets they are the actual sets you’ll perform after warm-ups so here is a basic example for deadlift warm-ups and working sets given that your working sets are 225 pounds / 100kg :

  • 10 x 110 pounds / 50 kg
  • 10 x 132 pounds / 60 kg
  • 8 x 155 pounds / 70 kg
  • 6 x 176 pounds / 80 kg
  • 3 x 198 pounds / 90 kg
  • 1 x 225 pounds / 100 kg

And then the working sets:

  1. 8 x 225 pounds / 100 kg
  2. 7 x 225 pounds / 100 kg

After you’ve done the deadlift you don’t need to warm up anymore for the rest of the exercises. Just perform 2-3 sets per exercise after the deadlift.

Putting It All Together

So now let’s look the program in all of it’s glory:

  1. Deadlift – 2-3 working sets of 7-12 repetitions
  2. Barbell Row 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions each
  3. One-Arm Dumbbell Row 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions each
  4. Pull-Up 2-3 sets x maximum repetitions each
  5. Lat Pulldown 2 sets 12-15 repetitions each
  6. Back Extensions 2 sets of 12-15 repetitions each

One thing to point out here is that if you do Barbell Row first and want to do another horizontal pull keep the second exercise as in this case One-Arm Dumbbell Row really light weight, the same goes with the Lat Pulldown after Pull-Ups.

Conclusion On The Best Back Workouts

To wrap this all up here is a bullet point list for all the important information to keep in mind:

  • Structure your workout upon basic compound exercises
  • Always use Proper Lifting Form
  • Pull with your Back not with your arms
  • Start with lighter weights and higher repetitions if you’re a beginner
  • Always perform the heaviest compound first, in this case the deadlift
  • Always do horizontal- and vertical pulling exercise in your back routine
  • Always use warm up sets before work sets in the heaviest compound exercise, in this case the deadlift
  • Perform 2-3 working sets per exercise
  • Aim to do this routine 1-3 times per week
  • Aim to progress all the time, more reps or more weight per every session

Did you find this article helpful? Drop me a comment down below, I’d love to hear if you have some suggestions or questions in mind!

Remember to train hard and train SMART!

Check out these articles too:

Beginner’s Guide To Muscle Building

How To Eat To Build Muscle

The Progressive Overload Principle

Supplements That Really WORK

10 Health Benefits Of Weightlifting


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