Updated: May 13
Working out gives people confidence that is noticeable to everyone. When you walk into a room with your head held high, feeling accomplished and capable from that day's workout, people can tell. Of course, they probably see a well-built chest, good shoulders, and buff arms, but don’t let the show die down when you walk away. It would be best if you left an impression walking into AND out of every room. You can really tell if someone seriously works out by the size and definition of their back. A good back workout is my favorite body part of the exercise of them all. Here are 4 exercises for a wider back that are always in my repertoire:
1. Pull Up/Pull-down
The pull-up is the quintessential exercise for developing a wider back. This exercise activates most of the muscles of the back including the upper and middle back, and lats. The pull-up requires the person doing it to have full control and strength over their body weight. A great thing about this exercise is that you only need a bar to hang from. To progress in your pull-up you can use an assisted machine, or varying fitness bands as assistance. An alternative to the Pull-up is the machine Pull-down. The pull-down allows you to do less than your total body weight and typically more volume. In my opinion, the pull-down should not replace the pull-up, but it’s a good place to start building up strength.
2. Bent-Over Barbell row
When you do the bent-over barbell row it’s best not to ego lift during this exercise. You’ll get more bang for your buck not going over 65% of a max and focusing on the isotonic contraction. This exercise requires you to tighten your core and can engage some muscles in the lower back also. While doing this exercise you want to make sure you are not dropping your shoulders and letting your arms do all the work. You can also experiment with grip width and pronated/supinated grip to engage different back areas.
3. T-Bar Row or Dumbbell row
The T-Bar Row is a fantastic exercise for the upper and middle back. It engages your Rear Deltoids, Traps, Rhomboids, and Lats. Like the bent-over barbell row, you get more benefits from focusing on the contraction of the muscles and dropping the weight. Due to the similarity of this exercise to the bent-over barbell row, I sometimes switch it up and row with dumbbells. With that exercise I can isolate my left and right side and also play around with my grip, choosing to row either elbows in for a middle back focus or elbows out for the upper back.
It’s important not to forget the important Erector Spinae muscles that make up our core. Your lower back allows you to stand up straight; and, the strength here translates to many other exercises. The deadlift is a sure way to engage the lower back, and in reality, should engage your entire back if done correctly. The form is priceless in this exercise and means long-term gains. A great alternative to isolating the lower back is back extensions. There are plate-loaded machines, yet I prefer to do bodyweight extensions and hold a plate in my arms for more resistance. This variation ensures that my core stays active through the entire exercise so I can develop a great Christmas tree for the holidays.
A great back is necessary to complete a great physique and V-taper. Its many muscles serve important functions from various pull movements to maintaining posture. Try these exercises on your next visit to the gym, one or all of them make up part of a great routine. These 4 exercises will give you a wider back.
Before starting any fitness program or dietary changes, including supplementation, please consult your physician for a thorough examination.