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Introduction to Back Training Exercise Index Back Introduction to Back Training

The Muscles of the Back

(1) Latissimus Dorsi: The latissimus dorsi (lats) is the large, triangular muscles that extend from under the shoulders down to the small of the back on both sides. These are the largest muscles of the upper back.

Function: To pull the shoulders downward and to the back.

(2) The Spinal Erectors: The spinal erectors are several muscles in the lower back that guard the nerve channels and help keep the spine erect. They are also the slowest muscles in the body to recuperate from heavy exercise.

Function: To hold the spine erect.

Training the Back

Depending on which portion of the back you are looking to develop, a variety of different exercises will be of help to you:

Upper Back and Lat Thickness

The main muscle of the upper back is the trapezius muscle which is the triangular shaped muscle which sits behind your neck and extends downward towards the shoulders. In order to develop this portion of the back, the exercises below are considered to be quite helpful:

  • Machine Pullovers
  • Barbell (Bent-Arm) Pullovers
  • Dumbbell Pullovers (with slightly more help from the chest and triceps
  • Barbell Bent-Over Rows

Lat Development

Lat development is the defining factor in developing the well known "V-taper" which highlights shoulder to waist ratio in bodybuilders. These occurs thanks to the sweep of the lats. These typer of development is founded on exercises which use a pulldown principle, as in lat pulldowns or any of a variety of types of chinups. The exercises below will help anyone trying to develop this type of V-taper:

  • Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows
  • One-Arm Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows
  • Machine Bent-Over Rows
  • T-Bar Rows
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Seated Machine Rows
  • Chin-Ups
  • Lat Pulldowns
Lower Lat Development

To complete the V-taper, the lower lats need to be developed in order for a complete sweep of the lats. Any number of exercises with a narrower than usual grip will help to achieve this. Such exercises include cable and dumbbell rows. Any bodybuilder wishing to develop a complete V-taper will also benefit from including the exercises below in their workout regiment:

  • Reverse-Grip Bent-Over Rows
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Close-Grip Chin-Ups
Middle Back Thickness

A complete back includes thickness in the middle portions as a sign of strength and power. Such thickness is developed through a variety of exercises which have a rowing movement:

  • Barbell Rows
  • Dumbbell Rows
  • T-Bar Rows
Lower Back Development

To complete the package, a muscular lower back is extremely impressive to give the christmas tree appearance. Many exercises will help you get there, and are included below:

  • Bent-Over Rows
  • Hyperextensions
  • Deadlifts
Outer Back Development

  • T-Bar rows, or other exercises with a narrow grip.
Lat Width

Any number of wide grip back exericses will help to develop back width:

  • Wide-Grip Chin-Ups
  • Wide-Grip Pulldowns
Note: See Also the Trapezius Muscles . Upper Back training information can also be found at this link.


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