Best Back Exercises – The 10 Routines to Keep You Fit

best back exercises

Is your back lackluster even when dressed to impress? Maybe you need to work out, getting back to the basics of health. This article will cover the 10 best back exercises on the internet today, encouraging you to get out of your shell and back to the grindstone.

Before jumping out of your office chair to do some push-ups, try reading this article which will give you a better idea of the equipment, technique, and difficulty of getting your back into shape.

Product FAQ’s

1. What Is the Best Back Exercise?

Ultimately, no single exercise should be practiced in isolation, but we’ve certainly found that some techniques work better than others. Strength levels, preference, and access to specific workout equipment will determine which back exercise works the best for a given person, but we’ve found ten workouts that meet our criteria for “best of.”

2. Why Is It Important?

These meat bags we haul around were not made to last, but you can make yours last a lot longer and in better shape if you take care of the most important part of it, your back. As we age, our backs give out and upon us. Exercise is essential to slow that process down.

Most of us modern age monkeys are confined to a 9 to 5 desk these days, leaving hardly any room to stretch or watch out for your back. It’s important to keep healthy and work out when you can, making your quality of life last a lot longer. There is a myriad of ways to do this. Here, we list a few of your options.

Keep in mind that it is also important to rotate the type of exercise in which you participate. Even football players do ballet on the weekends.

3. How Does It Work?

When we work out our backs, it helps to strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that hold our bones and organs in place, taking stress off the important bits. The stronger the muscles, the less the stress on the heart, lungs, and organs, up to the point of course.

Everything is only healthy in moderation.

Your back is like a rack or shelf that holds the whole things together. If it breaks, so does everything else. This is why it is so important to lift with your legs, taking care of that thing you can never quite see when looking behind you.

4. Where Can You Do It?

In short, anywhere. If you have the know-how and equipment at home, then that is the cheapest and most convenient option. Not all workout regimes require equipment which can cut down on cost and up your options for when and where you can work up a sweat.

Some cities have free equipment scattered on trails and in parks, a personal favorite. Why not enjoy some fresh air while toning your best body yet? There are always other body and health conscious rapscallions sculpting their glutes within eyesight for an extra incentive to head to the nearest park.

However, if you like looking in a mirror or would prefer some company, then the gym is also a great option. Dedicated gym rats can be seen boasting barbells anywhere from one to seven days a week.

5. Price Range

The great thing about working out without equipment is that you can exercise for free, at home, or in the park! If you want or need the gym membership, then the price range can be anywhere from a free guest pass that usually ends in a week to a few hundred dollars a month.

How We Reviewed

We review back exercises by asking professionals, trying a few ourselves, and evaluating some new moves. The results left us with some of the best back exercises around.

First, we looked at the widest range of supposed back exercises on which we could find articles. We began narrowing the search slowly, evaluating each item individually and with oh-so-careful attention. Then, we tried a few ourselves to discern the difficulty.

Ultimately, we found these following 10 exercises to be the best on the market for gym rats like ourselves. Hopefully, you will find yourself inspired to try a few the next time you head out to the gym.

Overall Price Range of This Product (and Similar Products)

The price range is considerably wider than most. You can complete a number of back exercises for no other cost than your time and energy, but if you want to spend some money to work up a sweat, then the high end of this range can get pretty high.

If you are hoping to get a home gym on par with the Rock’s, then you could be looking at thousands of dollars. However, a gym membership can cost you anywhere from $10 to $200 a month. Not to mention annual fees or the occasional surprise charge we have all enjoyed from time to time.

In short, you can spend as much or as little on this as you want.

What We Reviewed

  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Kettlebell Swing
  • Bent-Over Barbell Deadlift
  • Dumbbell Single Arm Row
  • Wide-Grip Pull-Up
  • Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row
  • Inverted Row
  • Standing T-Bar Row
  • Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row
  • Reverse-Grip Smith Machine Row

Barbell Deadlift

Barbell Deadlift

Features

The barbell deadlift: you vs. gravity in a battle for possession of the barbell. Sure, ultimately gravity wins. But for a few glorious seconds, you can defy the force that binds all life to the earth and get one of the best back exercises in the process. Keeping your torso straight during a barbell deadlift works out a wide range of back muscles. Your rhomboids, traps, lats, rear deltoids and erector spinae all need to engage to steady the weight.

To perform a barbell deadlift, first get a barbell. Roll the barbell towards you till it rests against your shins. Bend your hips and knees to reach the barbell and take hold with an overhand grip. Make sure your hands are just beyond shoulder-width apart. Then, stand with the barbell, making sure to keep your lower spine arched naturally. Pull up with your torso and thrust forward with your hips as you stand. Hold for a moment, then reverse your steps to place the barbell back on the ground. Repeat.

Pros

  • Works out a large range of back muscles
  • Results can be measured by the amount of weight lifted
  • Useful workout for manual labor

Cons

  • Requires barbell
  • Not recommended for those with ongoing back problems

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell Swing

Features

If you want to work both the front of your core and your back’s posterior chain, you better get to swinging (kettlebells, that is). This energetic exercise can be performed with as little or much weight for which you are comfortable. We recommend starting with a low weight and then moving upward as you master the form.

To give yourself one of the best back exercises with a kettlebell, start with your weight on the floor in front of you. Position yourself, so you are standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Without going into a full squat, bend down to get an overhand grip on the kettlebell. Make sure your core is held tight, and your spine is aligned.

Swing the kettlebell back between your knees. Then swing the weight forward, straightening your knees and squeezing your back as you use the power from your hips. Swing high, but not above your shoulders. Keep up the power as you swing the weight back down between your legs to complete one rep.

Pros

  • Works out the back’s posterior chain
  • Balances back workout with core exercise
  • Rhythmic
  • Can be adjusted to the desired weight

Cons

  • Requires kettlebell
  • Fumble hazard (Make sure you have a good grip on your kettlebell. It’s not fun to throw a weight through your big screen tv.)

Bent-Over Barbell Deadlift

Bent-Over Barbell Deadlift

 

Features

In terms of the amount of weight one can lift with a given back exercise, the bent-over barbell deadlift provides is among the best. But this technique is more than just a numbers game. It works out the large muscle groups of both the upper and lower back, meaning it provides some of the biggest bang for your buck.

The bent-over barbell deadlift is performed similarly to the deadlift, but in this case, you remain bent at about 45 degrees while you lift the weight to your chest. The form is key for this exercise, and we recommend that you have a body-builder friend or workout professional show you how it is done. 

Pros

  • Excellent upper and lower back workout
  • One of the best back exercises concerning the amount of weight one can lift

Cons

  • Requires barbell
  • Proper form is key to avoiding injury in this exercise

Dumbbell Single Arm Row

Dumbbell Single Arm Row

Features

Even though most back exercises work out both sides of the body at once, the dumbbell single arm row makes this list precisely because it is unilateral (meaning it works out one side of the body at a time.) Other back exercises are limited by the weaker side of the body. You fail when one side of you fails. Dumbbell single arm rows can target strength imbalances to increase your maximums in other weight-lifting exercises.

All you have to do is perch your left arm and left leg up on a bench with your right leg standing on the floor and a dumbbell in your right hand. From there, pull the dumbbell to your chest and repeat. Make sure to then work out the other side to avoid strength imbalances.

Pros

  • Can be used to correct strength imbalances
  • The classic move shows off your lats

Cons

  • Requires dumbbell
  • Only works out one side of the body

Wide-Grip Pull-Up

Wide-Grip Pull-Up

 

Features

Pull-ups are nothing new, but there’s a reason this classic maneuver keeps making lists: it is excellent at defining your upper lats. Even though you may be able to find more motion in the close-grip variety of pull-up, the wide-grip works out a larger range of muscles across your back.

You already know how to pull yourself up on a bar. You just have to push past the burn and use that wide-grip to get one of the best back exercises around.

Pros

  • Excellent for upper lats
  • Works out a large range of muscles across the back
  • Can be modified with weight-belts

Cons

  • Many people find difficulty pushing past the 9-12 rep range
  • Requires a pull-up bar

Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row

Chest-Supported Dumbbell Row

Features

You will love this move if you have a hard time keeping the form on more advanced moves. This is one of the best back exercises because the bench does the work for you, not your vestibular system. This move will crack the code on how to carve your back.

How to achieve the back bending move: use an incline bench to sit with your chest forward. Then, grab some dumbbells and squeeze your back, pulling toward your hips. During this keep your elbows bent at 90-degree angles. Finish, then do it all again until your muscles are begging for mercy. 

Pros

  • Easy for beginners
  • Easy for those who get dizzy

Cons

  • Not great for tons of weight

Inverted Row

Inverted Row

 

Features

Don’t shy away from the inverted row; it’s a killer back driller and one of the best back exercises for the gym. It’s not a squat, a pull-up, or even a push-up, so grab a hold and hang ten for this exciting twist on old moves.

How to do this back biter: place the bar at hip height and then lay under it, gripping overhand. Here comes the hard part, lift your chest up to the bar, release, hold form, and repeat.

Pros

  • A new twist on old moves
  • Targets the back
  • Heavy on arm movement

Cons

  • Not recommended for those that get dizzy

Standing T-Bar Row

Standing T-Bar Row

Features

Did you back previously look like a waterfall of muscles but has turned soft and flat like a hanger for your shirt? Well, this intense move will get you your back, back.

Pile on as much weight as you want here as this is one of the best back exercises around. The standing t-bar row is your secret weapon in the war you have begun on your muscles.

How to execute the procedure: keep your legs locked at an angle and focus on stretching.

Pros

  • One of the easier rows to spot
  • Can vary with the width of legs
  • Covers a wide range of muscles

Cons

  • Easy to cheat and use your legs
  • More difficult than squats

Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row

Wide-Grip Seated Cable Row

Features

Everyone wants to look like a statuesque powerhouse when going out to the supermarket; this particular move will help to get your back into the statuesque shape you desire, making it one of the best back exercises around.

This exercise can make a good warm-up move for your shoulders, but when used as a mass-building exercise, it’s best placed toward the end of your workout for sets of 8-12 reps.

How to complete the labor: use slow repetitions, squeezing at the bottom of each completed round, and stretching at the top. Think of yourself as a big workhouse wheel, almost machine-like in nature.

Pros

  • Great change of pace from regular exercises
  • Sculpts back like a pro
  • Efficient

Cons

  • Not for beginners

Reverse-Grip Smith Machine Row

Reverse-Grip Smith Machine Row

Features

One of the absolute best back exercises is the reverse-grip smith machine row. Without needing to balance due to the nature of the move, you can focus all that pent-up energy on pulling your muscles to the limit of their ability.

How to complete the task: bend backward a bit, about 45 degrees, and stay close to the bar. Then, do it, hammer your back into sculpted perfection!
If you like pushing not only the limits of your body but the taboos of gym culture, then this is the exercise for you. The reverse-grip row uses the Smith machine, the forbidden fruit of gym equipment.

Pros

  • Less balancing necessary
  • Sculpts back
  • Taboo incentive

Cons

  • Works out other parts of the body as well
  • High effort

Best Back Exercises – The Verdict

Our choice for the best back exercise is the chest-supported dumbbell row. It’s great for beginners as it helps to keep your balance and lets you add weight. But it’s also easy for the experts, keeping them on their toes. Sometimes the most proficient of us forget to master the basics, and this move is a great reminder of all our humble beginnings. This move is an essential move in any dedicated gym rat’s quiver.

The chest-supported dumbbell row is recommended for everyone by both the experts in the field and personal trainers. You really cannot go wrong with the chest-supported dumbbell row as it is one of the best back exercises.

Ultimately, as long as you are moving, shaking, and working up a sweat, your back will thank you in the long term. The chest-supported dumbbell row is our favorite move, but you should try them all and see what feels best when you complete each repetition. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to something as personal as your workout.

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