5 proven back exercises for building muscle

a man showing off his back muscles
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One of the best ways to reshape your body is by building muscle, even if you are looking to lose weight then you are still better off building muscle. If you wonder why, then check out this article.

However, in this article we will go over 5 proven back exercises for building muscle and strength.

Each exercise is supported by an instructional video that’s easy to follow with some further instructions underneath it.

5 Proven back exercises for building muscle.

1. Pull-ups

Number one has to be the good ol pull-ups. The good thing about pull-ups is that you can perform them assisted until you build on your strength. They are hard, they are challenging but they are worth the pain. Take a look at an instructional video below.

To get the most of the pull-ups you need to make sure to set the weight correctly, challenge yourself and don’t be so easy on yourself. This only defeats the purpose.

Once you have chosen the correct assisted weight, it is time to ensure you pull yourself up! The rule of thumb is to pull-up fast, pause at the top and release slow. This ensures your back is under pressure for a longer period of time.

2. Deadlifts

We cannot forget about the deadlifts! The second-best back exercise to grow muscle are deadlifts.

These are perfect for the back because they target the lower, the middle and the upper parts of the back. It’s an exercise that will define almost every muscle in the back.

A home multi-gym caters for most back exercises and allows you to work out without the need for a squatter. Image courtesy of gardenrooms.scot.

We are fully aware that many people struggle to get the right form for deadlifts. Therefore, we’ve decided to give you some more information. Just make sure to do this trick or at least visualise it!

So, the first thing’s first – sit down. Then pretend you are tying both of your shoes at the same time. You don’t actually need to have shoe laces, but place both of your hands on your shins. Then lift the butt off the chair or sofa (whatever you decided to sit on) and straighten out your back (parallel to the floor) and tighten your shoulder blades with your knees slightly bent – this is the deadlift position you want to find yourself in. From that position, just stand up straight.

Now, try it with a barbell or dumbbells.

3. Bent-over rows

If you are looking to define the upper back then bent-over rows are your go-to! Our third proven back exercise for building muscle is bent-over rows. This exercise is in the top five simply because it targets such a large number of muscles – middle and lower traps, rhomboid major, rhomboid minor, upper traps, rear deltoids, and rotator cuff muscles. Take a look at the instructional video below.

Bent-over rows are fairly straight forward. You’ll need a barbell for this exercise.

Simply stand with your legs hip-width apart, slightly bend your knees and bend your upper body forward to a 90-degree angle. You should be roughly parallel with the floor. Then, simply row the barbell towards the lower part of your chest.

One of the most important things to remember when performing this exercise is to keep your shoulder blades tight to avoid slouching. This limits any risk of back injuries and also puts the back under tension for much longer.

4. Lateral Pull-Downs

The fourth best exercise for shaping up your back are the lateral pull-downs. This exercise is perfect for building muscle on the upper part of the back. So, if you are looking to create that V-shaped back then don’t forget your lateral pull-downs!

Just a wee tip to get the most of your exercise, make sure to choose an appropriate weight. You don’t want to go too heavy, remember that the form is the key no matter what exercise you do.

With this exercise, make sure to lean back a little when you are pulling the bar down and lean slowly back up when you are releasing the bar. This motion is very similar to pull-ups. Make sure to pull down fast and release slowly to place the back under tension for longer.

The longer the muscle are under tension the better.

5.  T-bar rows

We couldn’t forget about the T-bar rows! One of the top five back exercises for building strength and muscle are T-bar rows.

This exercise is perfect for targeting the middle and the upper parts of the back. To do this exercise, you need a barbell and a corner. If you don’t have a designated area for a T-bar row then you’ll need to place the barbell in a corner of the room, this will secure it from rolling side to side. Below is a brief demonstration.

Stand up straight with the barbell between your legs. Bend forward your upper body and slightly bend your legs. Then simply row the barbell to the lower part of the chest.

When performing this exercise, it is important to keep your shoulder blades tight, just like you would when performing deadlifts. This is usually one of the most important factors to remember when performing back exercises.


In this article we went over five best and proven back exercises for building muscle and strength. If you are looking to build-up muscle then check out our exercise programs. We offer a variety of personalised diet plans and exercise programs that are tailored to every goal.

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