Great Back Exercises For Building Muscle

Great Back Exercises For Building Muscle

Take advantage of these great workouts and exercises to help build back muscle.

The muscles in the back are the trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, erector spinae, multifidus, and quadratus lumborum.

The back isn’t only one of the body’s biggest and strongest body parts, it’s also the most complicated in terms of being a series of interconnected muscle groups. For the purposes of this feature, we’re dividing the back into its four main regions:


  • Upper and outer lats
  • Lower lats
  • Middle back
  • Lower back






Use reverse-grip moves and close-grip pullups/pulldowns to more strongly emphasize the lower lat area. One of the few single-joint lat moves, the straight-arm pulldown, does this as well.

  •  Reverse-Grip Pulldown


Use close- and medium-grip rowing moves in which you pull the bar, dumbbell, or handle into your midsection or sides to best build back thickness.


Use moves in which you bend at the waist (not the hips, which work glutes and hams) to work the low-back muscles, a critical area to strengthen to prevent low-back pain.



·        Include one exercise that targets each area of your back in your routine.

·        To train for mass, after your warm-up sets, do 2-3 sets in the 8-12-rep range.

·        For strength, go heavy with low-rep sets (4-7 reps).

·        For muscle definition and endurance, go lighter and do high-rep sets (15-25 reps).

A mass workout that focuses on building outer lat width but still hits all areas of the back would look something like the chart below (not including warm-up sets). Rest 1-2 minutes between each set.

Exercise / Target Area



Pull-Up (wide grip) / Outer Lats


12, 10, 8

Bentover Barbell Row (wide) / Outer Lats


8, 10, 12

Close-Grip Seated Cable Row / Middle Back         


8, 10, 12

Reverse-Grip Pulldown / Lower Lats


12, 10, 8

Back Extension / Lower Back


12, 12, 12



Target tip: To target those outer lats and teres major, pull the bar high toward your upper abs.

Target tip: To focus in on those lower-lat fibers, keep your chest high and your back arched. As you pull the bar down, bring it toward your lower chest for a better contraction

Target tip: In the bottom position, hold the dumbbell slightly forward from your shoulder; as you go through the rep, pull it up and back.

Target tip: Hold the peak contraction for a second or two and squeeze your shoulder blades together for optimal stimulation.

Target tip: As opposed to the Romanian deadlift, allow your lower back to round slightly in the bottom position.