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The 14 Best Back Exercises

best back exercises

Training your back muscles is extremely important for improving aesthetics, overall strength, and even your health. Given the number of muscles in your back, you really need a comprehensive approach to make sure you hit them all. To save you time and energy, we’ve compiled a list of the top 14 best back exercises to improve your performance and overall health.

1. Pull-up

Pullups are probably the number 1 among the best back exercises you can do and it’s one of the best bodyweight back exercises out there.
Pull-ups work multiple muscles in your upper back like your lats, biceps, teres major, and rhomboids, amongst other muscles. Pull-ups have long been used to gauge a person’s overall strength and stamina.


A pull-up is a compound exercise that works a large number of muscles at the same time leading to better muscle growth and strength increase.

During the exercise, your forearms and hands are put under a lot of stress, which helps to strengthen your grip.

Another benefit is that pull-ups will also help you develop a wide v-shape back that will improve your overall look.

How to do a pull-up:

  • Start neutral overhand grip with shoulder-width apart. You can also use a variety of grips to shift the focus to different areas of your back.
  • Pull yourself all the way up until your chin is above the bar. Drive your elbows to the floor as you begin the pull.
  • Try to keep your body in a straight line by engaging your core and squeezing your quads. The goal is to keep moving on a straight path rather than drifting.
  • Go down to the starting position. Do as many repetitions as possible.

2. Barbell Row

The barbell row is one of the best back exercises when it comes to horizontal pulling movements and building a thicker back. The prime movers are lats, but the exercise also loads rhomboids, traps, posterior delts, teres major, teres minor, and infraspinatus. Also, spinal erectors work a lot for stabilization.


The barbell row is a beneficial complex workout for the whole body. Regular exercises strengthen your back, contribute to joint health, and perfect your posture. An attractive figure boosted strength and endurance are the main results of barbell row usage in your training plan.

It’s crucial to practice the exercise with the correct form because there is a risk of hurting your lower ack.

How to do a barbell row:

  • Approach the bar, and stand on your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure that your lower back is neutral and keep it that way throughout the whole exercise.
  • Grab the bar outside of shoulder width.
  • Bend over and maintain a 45 to 65 angle with your torso, keeping a slight bend in your knees.
  • Pull the bar right in towards your hips. You can pull it a bit higher, closer to your sternum, if you want to shift the focus towards the upper back and rear delts.
  • Return to the starting position.

3. T-Bar Row

The t-bar row is another exercise that helps improve the depth and thickness of the back as well as your biceps.


Due to a landmine setup, the t-bar row is a safer exercise than other rows since it puts less stress on your lower back.

Furthermore, the t-bar row lets you increase the load in comparison to some other rowing exercises like a barbell row. The neutral grip used in this exercise is considered the strongest one. It means athletes can rack up the biggest weight and test their own abilities.

While pull-ups and lat pulldowns are fantastic for broadening the lats, the t-bar rows are the greatest method to gain more thickness in the upper back. Include the t-bar row into your workout routine if you aim for well-defined back muscles.

How to do a t-bar row:

To perform this exercise, you need to use a landmine setup t-bar row machine. But if you don’t have it, it’s possible to utilize a squat rack. To make it work, hook the bar off the squat rack, and put a couple of plates on one side of the bar to anchor it. The next step is putting a handle right under the collar of the bar.

  • Stand on your feet with a wide stance. Lean forward and try to keep your chest almost parallel to the floor.
  • Grab the bar, keeping your core tight. Make sure your lower back is neutral.
  • Breathe out and pull the way up. Ensure you bend over and are parallel to the ground when you pull up.
  • Return to the starting position.

4. Pendlay Row 

The Pendlay row is an excellent workout to develop muscle and improve your back. Unlike standard barbell rows, this version is an intense off-the-ground technique that serves to engage deep muscle fibers in your back.


The Pendlay row may help you create a stronger back by promoting muscular growth in your back. It’s a compound exercise targeting spinal erectors, lats, trapezius, and rhomboids.

Your technique of compound movements like deadlifts, pull-ups, and lat pulldowns all benefit from the muscular growth you get with Pendlay rows.

The Pendlay row is one of the best back exercises for athletes to build strength, because of the explosive power that you have to generate to get it off the ground.

How to do a Pendlay row:

  • Lean forward, and keep your body parallel to the ground while balancing. 
  • Use an overhand grip to grasp a barbell.
  • Pull up. The weight should be pushed out to your mid-torso or lower chest area.
  • Lower the barbell and let it get back to the floor.

It’s crucial to do this exercise quickly and brashly. Keep in mind that the Pendlay row is not a slow movement.

5. Inverted Row

Inverted rows are a bodyweight alternative to barbell or dumbbell rowing movements.
An Australian pull-up is another name for it. It’s also one of the best back exercises that can be done at home.


This exercise is one of the best back exercises in my opinion yet one of the most overlooked ones. An inverted row may help you improve upper-body strength if you’re just a beginner and can’t even do pullups.

You can also vary the difficulty of the exercise by changing the angle between your body and the ground. The most difficult variation is when your body is almost parallel to the ground. As you increase that angle, the exercise will become easier.

Another benefit is that you don’t need a gym to do this exercise, which makes it easy to perform almost anywhere. All you need is just a bar that is about hip height or slightly higher.

Your lower body muscles are also engaged during the exercise. When you do an inverted row, you must keep your glutes and hamstrings engaged.

How to do an inverted row:

  • Get under the bar that is about hip height.
  • Grab the bar with an overhand grip about shoulder-width apart. Engage your glutes, quads, and hamstrings to make your body almost parallel to the ground. Keep your spine neutral.
  • Pull yourself up till the chest touches the bar. Pause for a second.
  • Lower yourself down to the starting position.

6. Kettlebell Row 

The Kettlebell row is an excellent way to isolate and target the back muscles. Also, it is an exercise that has stood the test of time. There are several variants of the kettlebell row. Picking and practicing the one that best matches your training objectives is always an option.


Kettlebell workouts don’t require expensive equipment. With only a standard kettlebell, you can get the most out of the workout.

Kettlebell rows strengthen the muscles in the back that are necessary for good posture. Control and stability are vital components of this training, which helps joints become more flexible and healthy.

The kettlebell row is one of the most intensive fat-burning workouts. It boosts metabolism and causes your body to shed fat more quickly.

How to do a kettlebell row:

  • Put the kettlebell between your legs and bend over with your legs shoulder-length apart. 
  • The grip you use when rowing kettlebells is up to you. Lats and lower traps will be more active if your palms are towards you. Upper traps, posterior delts, and rhomboids may be targeted with hands pointing backward and away from the body.
  • Lift the kettlebell to your waist until your elbow crosses your lower back.
  • Stop for a few seconds, then lower the weight down to the starting position.

7. Landmine Row

Like any other row alternative, the landmine row primarily targets back muscles. The specific feature of this exercise is a landmine attachment, due to which the movement gets its unique trajectory.


It’s a joint-friendly exercise. Due to the movement’s specific path, the stress on your joints is minimal.

It works both the back and the arms simultaneously, which makes it a great compound exercise that athletes love.

This exercise also allows you to use very weights which makes it one of the best back exercises to build strength.

How to do a landmine row:

  • Put the barbell into a landmine setup and stand over the barbell so that it’s between your legs.
  • Place the handle right under the collar of the barbell on the side with the weights on.
  • Bend your knees slightly, bend down, and take the barbell with both hands.
  • Make sure your back is straight, and your chest is high.
  • Pull the barbell up to your stomach. As you raise, activate your shoulders and push them together.
  • Lower the weight gradually back to the starting position.

8. Bent-Over Dumbbell Row

The bent-over dumbbell row is considered a classic exercise by many experienced bodybuilders and athletes. It helps to become stronger, gain mass and make your joints healthier.


It strengthens the grip. A person’s grip strength is a vital health indicator, yet our grip strength decreases dramatically as we get older. With the workouts like the bent-over dumbbell row, you may increase your grip strength.

Compared to merely training vertical pulling movements, practicing the bent-over row (a horizontal pulling activity) increases the number of muscle fibers activated in the back and lats. This helps avoid training-related injuries and improves the stability of the shoulders.

It works many joints and muscles at once. Strength in the upper and lower back, glutes, hamstrings, lats, and shoulders is increased with this exercise. Also, a bent-over row burns a lot of calories and improves your body composition.

How to do a bent-over dumbbell row:

  • Grab a dumbbell. Bend your knees slightly and maintain your back straight. It should be almost parallel to the floor.
  • Pull the dumbbell to the side of your body while maintaining your body still. Keep your elbows close to your body at all times. Squeeze your back muscles and hold for a few seconds when you reach the top.
  • Return the weight to the starting position.

9. Deadlift

The deadlift is another classical exercise that is considered to be one of the best compound back exercises that exist. It will help you improve total body your strength a lot while simultaneously helping you build more muscles.


The deadlift is a compound exercise, loading many muscles at once. It’s a great strength-building exercise and should be used as one of the pillars of any bodybuilding or strength training program.

Due to the heavy loads used in the exercise, it not only trains your muscles but also puts a lot of demand on your nervous system helping you build power and strength.

Deadlifts increase bone mineral density which usually reduces with age. The good news is it is possible to slow or stop this loss by practicing the movement and combining deadlifts with other weight-bearing workouts.

This exercise also strengthens your core. Such an effect can reduce lower back pain and improve your performance in other workouts. Besides that, they’re also great for improving your posture.

How to do a deadlift:

  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. The heels should be underneath the hips. You can rotate your feet externally a bit to make your knees feel more comfortable during the exercise.
  • Bent your knees, come down, grab the bar with an overhand or mixed grip, and set your body up. Your back should be a bit inclined. Avoid rounding it.
  • Initiate the movement by pushing through your legs until the bar reaches your knee height. Then engage your hips and lower back more to pull the weight to the top.
  • Come back to the starting position slowly and put the barbell on the ground.

10. Lat Pulldown

Just like pulls, the lat pulldowns are another vertical pulling exercise. Besides working your lats, the lat pulldown also engages a range of muscles like rhomboids, traps, and biceps. This exercise may be a stepping stone to the pull-ups. So if you feel enough strength to practice pull-ups, start with lat pulldowns.


The latissimus dorsi, your back’s widest muscle, gets a great workout with the lat pulldown. This movement also encourages excellent posture and improves the spine’s stability.

A lat pulldown helps strengthen the muscles used in numerous sports, such as swimming. That means regular exercising has the power to improve your sports results. 

Because you can adjust the weight easily, this exercise can be one of the best upper back exercises for beginners.

How to do a lat pulldown:

  • Make sure that when you sit inside the gym workstation, the pads are on top of your quads. That condition is critical because it will guarantee you can hold yourself in a seat.
  • Grab the handles and then sit down with an overhand grip, locking yourself in. keep your legs bent at a 90 angle.
  • Bring the handles down to your upper chest area. Don’t fall back too much and try to keep your torso almost perpendicular to the ground.
  • Squeeze for a second and let the bar come back up slowly to the starting position

11. Straight Arm Pulldown 

The straight arm pulldown is one of the best back exercises for developing your straight arm strength which is crucial for overall back development.


The straight arm pulldown offers lats’ isolation. You may train your lats without exhausting your biceps and shoulders by focusing just on them.

This exercise can help you build strength that is used with other compound movements like deadlifts.

The range of motion in straight arm pulldowns is far greater than in standard pulldowns. On the one hand, it means the exercise is challenging. But also, it is an excellent way to load your muscles to the maximum.  

How to do a straight arm pulldown:

  • Attach a lat bar to one of the cable machine’s upper positions.
  • Using an overhand grip, grasp the handle. The width of your grip should be somewhat broader than the width of your shoulders. Take a few steps aside from the cable machine. 
  • Begin the downward action by pushing the bar toward your hips while keeping your arms straight. Allow your shoulder blades to move. Don’t shrug your shoulders. Squeeze your lats at the bottom of the movement.
  • Begin your ascension. Allow your arms to return to the beginning position gently.
  • Before starting the following repeat, pause for a second.

12. Dumbbell Pullover

Dumbbell Pullovers are another classical exercise out there. It requires minimum equipment: a heavy dumbbell and a regular gym bench.


The latissimus dorsi, pectoralis major, triceps, and serratus muscles on the side of your rib cage are all worked out in this exercise. It means a dumbbell pullover is great for working multiple muscle groups at once.

Regular pullover workouts contribute to core stability. Why is it a crucial advantage? Strengthening our core helps us avoid injury and perform at our peak.

In addition to enhancing mobility and reducing the risk of injury, the dumbbell pullover trains the muscles that surround your shoulder joints.

How to do a dumbbell pullover:

  • Place a dumbbell on a bench.
  • Lay down next to the dumbbell. Your upper back should be the only body part touching the surface. Keep your core tight and hips high.
  • Pick up your dumbbell. Breathe in and pull the dumbbell over your head. Go as low as you can, but keep your wrists straight. Allow your elbows to flare out a bit.
  • Breath out and initiate the movement with your lats and pull the weight to the top.

13. Dumbbell High Pull

The dumbbell high pull is a great upper back exercise that works your rear delts, upper traps and your later delts.


Many athletes use a high dumbbell pull to train and prepare for more challenging exercises. A dumbbell high pull trains rhomboids, deltoids, lats, lower back, and many other muscles simultaneously. Movements like the hang clean, push jerk and snatch benefit from using force and strength.

The technique is pretty simple and available for any fitness level. Furthermore, you can choose an alternative that fits your individual goals. Add a squat or overhead press to the movement to make it more challenging. 

How to do a dumbbell high pull:

  • Put your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Put the dumbbell between your legs on the floor.
  • Bend your knees a bit. Don’t let your knees pass your toes. Dip your butt down and grab the dumbbell.
  • Come up, pushing through your heels. When you are in the middle of the movement, bring the dumbbell to your chin level. Your elbows should be spread wide apart.
  • Lower the dumbbell and get back to the starting position

14. Back Hyperextension

Back hyperextension is probably top 1 among the best exercises to strengthen lower back. This exercise is crucial for preventing injuries and helping you develop a good posture.


Back hyperextension is one of the exercises that boost your energy. As a result, your physical performance grows fast.

These workouts will help you develop your lower back which will let you prevent injuries on other compound back exercises like a deadlift or a barbell row.

Besides that, this exercise will train your glutes which are super important for a good posture, especially if you spend a lof time during the day sitting.

How to do a back hyperextension:

  • Back hyperextension, also called superman back extension, needs the extension machine (Roman chair) to be performed.
  • Step into the back extension machine and ensure your body is safely fixed there.
  • Lean forward and go down with your hands crossed on the chest.
  • Initiate the movement with your glutes and your lower back and come up until your body is in line.

What Are The Main Muscles In The Back

Main muscles in the back

The back muscles are a collection of powerful, paired muscles located on the trunk’s posterior side. We are talking about:

  • trapezius, 
  • rhomboids, 
  • latissimus dorsi, 
  • erector spinae, 
  • rear delts
  • teres major
  • teres minor

They allow the spine to move, the trunk to remain stable, and the limbs and trunk to move in unison. Long story short, these muscles enable us to bend, rotate and stand up straight. They also support your spine and play a critical role in helping to breathe.

How Often Should You Train Your Back

Many fitness professionals recommend performing a back workout once a week in combination with another muscle group, such as the legs or the chest. However, everything is individual and depends on your personal goals and fitness level.

Back workouts may also be performed up to three days a week on non-consecutive days, just like any other muscle in your body. A two or three-day recovery period is required if you’re lifting big weights.


Our back muscles are critical for strength, performance, and overall health. Strengthening them will assist in improving your aesthetic look by making your waistline look smaller in comparison to your upper body. It will also make you stronger and help you improve your posture to look better. Use these back exercises wisely and add them to your training to make sure that you build a complete back.