Top 5 Muscle Building Back Exercises

Top 5 Muscle Building Back Exercises

– This is the second in our series of great exercises to build muscle and this week we’re focusing on the back, if you missed last weeks 5 Great Exercises to Bulk Up your Arms then check it out.

Pull Ups / Chin Ups

This is a great exercise for targeting the upper back lifting your body weight and lowering it back under controlled conditions, it’s a perfect measure of strength which many find challenging.

If you do struggle with pull-ups and chin-ups don’t worry, it takes time to build the kind of muscle required to lift your body weight in a clean movement. Try starting with the assisted pull-up machine, which uses weights to counter act your own body weight. Use this machine, lowering the counter weight until you are able to do a set of  pull-ups unassisted using the correct form and motion.

If your gym doesn’t have an assisted pull up machine then use a step box, grab the pull up bar and get in the ‘up’ position, now lower yourself down till your arms are extended in a very slow controlled movement and repeat. The resisting action against gravity will help strengthen the upper back muscles until you are able to pull yourself up.


Top 5 Muscle Building Back Exercises My Gym
Chin Ups


Pull-ups are done with palms-facing-out-grip while chin ups are performed with a palms-facing-in-grip.  Hands should be shoulder width apart for pull-ups whilst being closer together for chin-ups.

Pull-ups are generally more difficult because of the grip but it’s key to do both types of exercise to ensure full muscle development.

Barbell Bent Over Rows

Barbell Bent Over Rows are also known as Barbell Rows. This is a great exercise, if not the best, for building up your back muscles. A good hint while performing this move is to squeeze your shoulders together and keep your back straight and fixed to maximize results and prevent injury.


Top 5 Muscle Building Back Exercises My Gym
Barbell Bent Over Row

Barbell rows target your lats and upper back muscles as well as working your biceps and shoulders. They require you to focus your lower back and help strengthen your whole core, because of the nature of the row you can load up the weight safely and as they target various areas of the back help build mass fast.

A similar exercise to this one is the seated cable row, which also works the same muscle groups.

Barbell Shrugs

Perfect for targeting your traps as no other muscle group is worked during this exercise it’s ideal for loading on weight. A great idea is to do this at the end of a complete routine to give the traps one final burn and work to fatigue.

Top 5 Muscle Building Back Exercises My Gym
Barbell Shrug

Use a barbell on an adjustable rack just below waist height – don’t lift from the floor. Let the weight hang at your thighs with arms fully extended. Keeping your back straight and legs steady shrug your shoulders as high as you can, hold and then lower in a controlled motion and repeat. Avoid bending your arms – as we’re only working the traps and keep your chin up, don’t look down at the weight – ideally if you can do this in a mirror where you can keep a check on form without looking down.

Single Arm Dumbell Rows

A great exercise for isolating and focusing on each side of the back, making sure that any weaker side can be developed further. You complete one side at a time, resting the other side and using the resting arm to steady yourself.

Top 5 Muscle Building Back Exercises My Gym
Dumbbell Bent Over Row


Use a flat bench to kneel, supporting yourself by placing your free hand on the bench and bend forward so that your back is parallel to the floor and the bench. Let the dumbbell hang with your arm fully extended then lift the weight to touch your chest, palms facing your body while keeping your elbows tucked firmly into the side of your body. Release the weight neatly and extend your arm under control keeping correct form and then repeat, pay particular attention not to move your back to try and compensate and no jerking motions. Once done, repeat with the other side.

Barbell Deadlift

The deadlift is the daddy of all exercises, as it requires working the majority of the body not just the back to perform it.

Top 5 Muscle Building Back Exercises
Barbell Deadlift


To do the deadlift you should stand with feet shoulder width apart, have a slight bend in your knees grabbing the barbell. When you lift make sure to lift the weight using your glutes & hips as well as the legs. Although the back is not directly being worked in this exercise it’s the back that is providing the stability for the body and this is what builds the muscle.

Keep your back straight throughout the move and stand up straight. Arms should be fully extended. Hold in an upright position and lower back in a controlled movement and repeat.

As always, please let us know what you think and if we’ve missed your favorite exercise of then leave us a comment.

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Mark Holland

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