Back Muscle Exercises
Ever seen those bodybuilders that have backs that flare out like the head of a cobra? Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, and Lee Haney come to mind. How on earth did they develop the muscles of their back to that size? How did they get their lats to be THAT ripped? Just what kinds of back muscle exercises did they do?
Well, if you’re looking at many of the popular bodybuilding magazines, odds are that some of that muscle growth (more than likely) is the effect of some type of drug or supplement you may not be willing to try. Because many of the professional bodybuilders juice (i.e. – use steroids and other growth enhancing drugs), doesn’t make their backs any less impressive, though.
They still work extremely hard to get their backs to that size. But being realistic about your goals is really important for the regular guy or gal pumping iron in the gym. Despite their ability to pump far more iron than the average person, a professional bodybuilder’s back training exercises don’t have to be all that different from yours.
The back is a set of muscles that really stand out in the upper body because of their size. As with any large group of muscles there are muscle subgroups, when developed properly, that create the back’s “ripped cobra” look.
The major muscle groups that a good back workout should hit are the trapezius muscles, the latissimus dorsi muscles, and rear deltoids. If you’re being really specific, then the rhomboid, terse major, and terse minor muscles should be a part of the training as well (but generally these muscles will get worked in the process of training).
The Trapezius Muscles
This is that slab of muscle that lies between your shoulders and your neck. The traps muscles form a “V” shape that tapers to a point near the very centre of your back. When a guy trains these muscle hard, you notice, because it almost looks like they have two sets of neck muscles.
Two great exercises to develop the traps:
1. Weighted Shrugs
Using a set of dumbbells (resting at your sides) or a barbell (resting on the front of your thighs), you simply raise your shoulders in an “I don’t know” motion.
2. Reverse Chins
I don’t think this is the formal name for this particular exercise, but you hold a barbell (palms down on the front of your thighs) for the starting position. Raise the bar to about lip/nose level, as your elbows flare out to 10’ o-clock and 2’ o-clock respectively.
The Latissimus Dorsi Muscles: These are probably the back muscles that should get the majority of your attention. If you’re strapped for time, I would work these first. The back muscles are called “lats” for a reason. It’s these muscles that are responsible for creating that “V” shape and a back that looks like a cobra when you flex it.
4 Exercises To Develop Your Lats:
1. The Row
THIS EXERCISE IS PURE GOLD! This exercise not only primarily works your lats, but involves other groups in the back as secondary muscles. The row has many variations that can really give you definition, strength, and back thickness: the bent dumbbell row, the machine row, the upright row and a few examples.
2. The Lat Pull down
This is a machine exercise that will primarily work the lat muscles, teres major and teres minor. Sitting with your knees braced, you grab the bar above you and pull down until it touches the top of your chest (front lat pull down), or your traps muscles (rear lat pull down). Squeezing your muscles at the point of contraction is a great way to intensify the effect of this exercise.
3. The Pull up
This is the exercise that so many dreaded doing in school. It uses the same motion as the lat pull down, but instead of pulling the bar down to you, you’re pulling yourself to the bar, using your body weight as resistance. This is definitely not the easiest exercise to do if you’re just starting a workout plan, but if you can master these, your friends will notice, and your back muscles will thank you.
4. The Rear Deltoids
This is the muscle on the back of your shoulders. Some people like to exercise these muscles during the course of their shoulder training, while others like to include it in their back routine. The rear deltoid muscles accentuate the back muscles, like the finishing touches on a masterpiece. Working these muscles is also great for the teres muscles which help you to get a ripped back even faster.
A Rear Deltoid Exercise:
1. Machine Rear Delt Fly
If you’re just starting out this is a great exercise, as you have control over the exercise’s motion. You sit at the machine and grab the handles in front of you. Your fists should be at shoulder height, your arms slightly bent. Using your (yep you guessed it) rear delt muscles; pull your hands apart in a smooth, controlled, arc.
2. Seated Rear Delt Fly
This is a bit more challenging, but if you use a weight you can control, you can get a lot out of these. Sit down with a pair of dumbbells. Sit with your our knees together at 90 degrees and lean forward over your thighs (as close to parallel with the floor as possible). Your dumbbells should touch underneath your legs. Raise the dumbbells until they’re parallel with the floor (your arms will be out at your sides like you’re flying). Bring the weights down smoothly.
Even though your back won’t be the first muscle that people usually see, it’s super important that you train it. Your back is responsible for a large part of your overall strength and symmetry. Make time for back exercises in your workout plan, and you’ll be taking care of a key element of your physical fitness.