Build A Better Back

Last week my brain was feeling incredibly uncreative.  I know, because it told me.  I asked my Facebook friends if they had any thoughts for some possible blog posts, and I got several replies with some really good ideas.  My plan is to tackle them all in the very near future.

One of the suggestions was for some back and or shoulder exercises.

I have to say, I love training my back.  Everyone has strong and weak areas on their body.  Unlike my legs (which are currently about an inch bigger around than my one year old daughters legs are) my back has always been well developed, stays lean no matter how high my body fat gets and is by far the strongest part of my body.  And as we all know, we like to do the things we are good at, hence my affinity for training my back.

Whether or not you enjoy it like I do, your strength, posture and awesome factor benefit tremendously from giving your back some dedicated time in the gym.  Due to the fact that we sit for hours and hours in a slouched position and then go to the gym and sit on machines, our backs are in desperate need of some attention.  On top of that, most of us are guilty of only focusing on the body parts we can see in the mirror.  Are backs are not one of those, which is really too bad, because a jacked back looks awesome:

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

So, to get you started in the gym with some ideas for how to get your back whipped into shape, get it stronger, and increase your awesome points by 17, here are my top 5 favorite back exercises:

Conventional Deadlift:

If you’ve been around the blog long, you know that I have a crush on deadlifting.  Seriously, I’m kind of addicted.  So it’s probably no surprise that this makes the top of my list for exercises that will make you, and your back, awesome.

Aside from providing the potential to move a ton of weight, a properly performed Conventional Deadlift works the entirety of your back (as well as pretty much the rest of your body).  Your lats have to keep the weight against your body, your traps have to hold your shoulder blades in place and your spinal erectors have to keep you from folding in half and looking a scared cat.

Chin Up:

I’ll be the first to admit that Chin Ups (even if band assisted) aren’t for everyone.  Shoulder flexibility/mobility deficits (whether from acute injury, lack of thoracic spine mobility, or other reasons) can certainly make them troublesome.  However, if an individual is able to perform them safely, they most definitely can play an important part in developing a strong and healthy back

Dumbbell Bent Over Row:

While deadlifting is certainly my first love in the gym, heavy rowing is a pretty close second.  While I certainly like seated rows, barbell rows, etc., my favorite row is the DB Bent Over Row.  One of the things I like about it most is that it allows you to train the back unilaterally, giving you an opportunity to shore up any strength imbalances in the body.  Plus you can go heavy, which is always a good time.

(Note: I am soooooo not “going heavy” in that video…just sayin’)

Inverted Row:

While they are another rowing exercise, Inverted Rows are a pretty different animal than other rowing movements.  They are incredibly easy to progress/regress based on an individuals strength levels and allow you to use your own body weight as resistance.

Face Pulls:

Although Face Pulls are not a huge strength builder, they do two things that are incredibly important for a healthy back.  First, they allow for a great “squeeze” between the shoulder blades.  This promotes good scapular retraction, which is critical for heavier rowing movements.  Second, they get some good work done in the rotator cuff, something that is often left out of most peoples training programs.

So there they are, my 5 favorite back exercises.  Did I miss one of your faves?  If so, drop it in the comments below!

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One thought on “Build A Better Back

  1. Pingback: Something’s Coming « Michael Gray

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