Building strong back muscles

Back exercises not only help build a great figure and the coveted V-shape, but they’re also your best protection against back pain. The back is a complex set of discs, bones, joints and muscles. That’s why you need to target the right areas to build a back as strong as a brick wall.

Which muscles make a strong back?

Your back muscles play a bigger role than you may realise in pumping out lots of exercises including bench presses. Your upper and mid-back muscles help to stabilise your shoulder joints. That’s vital to understand because the stronger your shoulders are, the more weight you can lift in almost every upper-body exercise. 

5 primary back muscles

Lats – n the area below your armpits down the sides of your back.

Traps – run from your neck to your mid back.

Rhomboids – in the mid-upper back.

Erector spinae – a group of muscles that run along your spine.

Tres major – small but important muscle under the lats also known as the little lats.

The training principles

The best way to train your back at home

The best workout for your back is a full body workout. So you should not only strengthen your back muscles, but your stomach, legs, shoulders and arms too. The entire area around the spine benefits from a combination of muscle building, balance and coordination training. 

Starting out

There are a wide variety of devices and aids you can used for back training at home. As a beginner, start with relatively simple exercises for around six weeks to build up the back muscles and abdominal muscles.

Beginner’s guide

2-3 three training units a week

30-40 minutes each

3 sets of 12 to 15 reps

60 second break in-between

Non-consecutive days.

If you’re exercising alone, watch yourself in a mirror so you can control your posture. If you are training with a partner, you can correct each other.

The tools

What fitness equipment do I use to buff my back muscles?

There’s a wide range of fitness equipment you can use to strengthen your back muscles. Dumbbells and fitness bands are best for beginners. With these you can train entire muscle chains in a natural sequence of movements, prevent imbalances and, if necessary, eliminate them. 

In 6-8 weeks, when you have built up a  strong base, you can add kettlebells, balance trainers and sandbags. As a rule of thumb, the more varied the training, the more effective it is.

Back training

Back training basics

  • Beginners start with six exercises per workout.
  • Three of these exercises should be for the back as well as the core and abdominal muscles. Choose the resistances and weights so that you can perform all exercises in a technically clean and concentrated manner up to the last repetition.
  • Keep breathing evenly during the exercises. If you have to press while breathing, reduce the weight or the number of repetitions

Back training for beginners

What are the best back exercises for beginners?

Here are four back exercises and two abdominal exercises that are ideal for beginners. Choose three of them and integrate them into your training. Each exercise trains a different muscle group before doing the next.

1 – Row bent forward with dumbbells

Exercises the large back muscles, large round muscles, biceps, and glutes

Depending on the fitness level, women take a 1-3kg dumbbell in each hand and men take 3-5kg . Bend your knees, stretch your buttocks out and bend your upper body straight forward. Hold the arms with the dumbbells in your hands, stretched out sideways on the body. From this position you pull the dumbbells up until they just touch your upper body. Hold briefly and then lower it again. 3 x 12 to 15 repetitions with a 60 second break.

⊗ Tip: You can do the same exercise with a barbell. Because it can make it easier to balance the weight, you can take a little more weight.

2 – Lat pull with dumbbells

Exercises the large back muscles, the hood muscle, the deltoid muscles, the latissimus dorsi and the glutes Grab a dumbbell in each hand. Women 1-2kgs, men 3kgs. Then crouch slightly, tilting your upper body forward with your back straight. The arms hang on the sides of the

body. From this position, now lead both dumbbells in an extension of the upper body to the front and top. The upper body and arms form a straight line. Hold briefly and then lower again. 

3 x 12 to 15 repetitions with a 60 second break.

3 – Side bend with dumbbells

Exercises the outer and inner obliques and the anterior saw muscle

Women take a 3kg dumbbell (men 5kg) in each hand and stand upright with your knees slightly bent. With both arms beside your body, bend slowly to the right and slowly guide the dumbbell on the outside of the upper body to knee level. Hold briefly and then straighten up again. Ensure the pelvis remains stable and does not move sideways. 

3 x 12 to 15 repetitions with a 60 second break. Then switch sides. 

4 – Rowing with the fitness band

Exercises the large back muscles, large round muscles, biceps, and glutes

Stand hip-width apart with your feet in the middle of your fitness band and take the ends of the same length in your hands. Bend your knees, bring your upper body straight forward and then pull your elbows back up close to your body until your hands reach the level of your navel. Hold briefly and lower again. 

3 x 12 to 15 repetitions with a 60 second break.

5 – Lat pulldown with fitness band

Trains the large back muscles, deltoids, hood muscles and back extensors

Stand hip-width apart and take the fitness band in both hands so you build up tension. Then bend your knees slightly and bend your straight upper body forward. Stretch your arms with the tensioned fitness band straight above your head. From this position, bend your elbow to a right angle and guide the fitness band behind your head. The head remains in line with the back. Hold briefly and stretch again. 

3 x 12 to 15 repetitions with a 60 second break.

Back training for advanced users

How do I make my back muscles even stronger at home?

If you have trained regularly and built a foundation, there are many other ways to strengthen the back muscles. For example, you can increase the weights of the dumbbells or the resistance of the fitness bands. Or use a training band, which offers different levels of resistance depending on the color. To train the important deep muscles, you should also improve your coordination and balance skills.  Training on unstable ground makes this exercise even more effective. You can replicate this by standing on a large bath towel that you have folded over a few times to make it uneven. Using a balance pad is even more effective because in addition to the main

muscles, you activate your deep-seated muscles. Up to 30 percent more muscles are used using this technique.

In addition to dumbbells and fitness and training bands, you can also train with kettlebells or a sandbag. Both are a bit more complicated to use but if you have a good muscular base, you can increase your fitness level significantly. When using kettlebells, a weight of 2-4kgs for women and 4-5kgs for men is best.

As the name suggests, the sandbag is a bag filled with sand. This allows extremely variable resistance training to be carried out. Because the weight in the sandbag shifts with every movement, significantly more muscles are used than when training on equipment. So it’s perfect for exercising the deep muscles that are so important for the back. Women train with a 5-15 kilogram sandbag, men with 15-30kgs

Here are 2 killer kettleball exercises

1 – Swing with kettlebell

Target the large back muscles, the back extensor muscles, the deltoid muscles, the glutes and hamstrings as well as the deep back muscles

Stand a little more than shoulder width apart. The tips of the feet point slightly outwards. Grab the kettlebell with both hands. Then pull the kettlebell up a little with your arms almost straight, pick up momentum and bring it up to shoulder height. Knees, hips and upper body are stretched during this swing. Then, following gravity, swing the kettlebell through your legs with your knees bent and your torso straight. 

3 sets of 8-12 reps with a 60 second break.

2 – Single leg rowing with kettlebell

Targets the large back muscles, the back extensor muscles, the dorsal muscles, the arm and glutes and the deep back muscles

Stand up straight, holding a kettlebell in your right hand. Then bend forward like a figure skater with a straight back. At the same time stretch one leg backwards. Keeping your balance in this position, steadily pull the kettlebell towards your upper body and lower it again. 

3 sets 8-12 reps with a 60 second break.

2 awesome sandbag exercises

1 – Good morning exercise with sandbag

Exercises the large back muscles, the back extensor, the trapezius, the glutes and thigh muscles

Grab the sandbag from below with both arms and carry it in front of your chest. Stand hip-width apart and bend your knees a little. From this position, lean your straight upper body forward and down to the horizontal. Hold briefly and then steadily straighten. 

3 sets of 8-12 rep with a 60 second break.

2 – Power snatch with sandbag

Targets the large back muscles, the back extensors, the deltoid muscles, the trapezius, the arm, buttocks and leg muscles

Take the sandbag in a shoulder-width grip. Stand hip-width apart. Then crouch with your back straight until you almost touch the floor with the sandbag. Then pull the sandbag up, bend your arms with your elbows pointing outwards. Extend your arms above your head and catch the sandbag on the back of your forearms. 

3 sets of 8-12 reps with a 60 second break.

Back training for pros

Which back exercises push the professionals?

If you have been training regularly for a long time and have built up strong back muscles, you’re looking for a challenge right? No problem – simply do all the advanced exercises on a balance pad or even on a balance trainer. Go to it,

⊗ Tip: Since you have to keep your balance at the same time, it is better to reduce your usual weights a little first. Because there is nothing like correct movement execution. 3 sets of 8-12 reps with a 60 second break. 

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