A Well Defined Back
Back muscles are often neglected or not properly trained because you cannot see your results very well. However, the back muscles play a very important role in your day-to-day activities. Also, a well-defined back can make you stand out from the competition.
The three large muscles that make up the back can be trained with a variety of exercises. Since the back can lift heavy weight and train hard, these muscles will burn more calories per day than smaller muscles, like the glutes or biceps. Another great benefit of strengthening the back is that it helps your posture.
Back muscles are like other large muscles; they can be trained up to three times per week with rest periods between. Rest days depend on your goal and training style. Functional training needs only one day of rest in between, while hypertrophy training needs at least 2 days of rest between workouts. Whatever your goal is, always remember to maintain good posture throughout the movements.
Tricks to Getting a Well-Defined Back
The three large muscles that make up the back are the latissimus dorsi, the erector spinae, and the rhomboids. Each group of muscles plays a key role in exercising your back. So what is the trick to getting a well defined back? Detail! That’s right, you need to focus on details like posture, repetitions, weight, and power.
One of the most important things to be aware of when lifting for the back is to not recruit muscles in your arms and legs. For example, when performing a seated row, many people make the mistake of using too much biceps instead of focusing on their back muscles. Regardless of the exercise, always make sure you are focusing on squeezing your back muscles to lift the weight or perform the exercise.
Another big mistake when training back is that people focus too much on lifting heavy all the time. The key to definition is recruiting muscle fibers and challenging your muscles at different intensities. One day lift heavy, aim for more of an endurance workout the next, and challenge your back on a rowing machine or with the kettlebells for the third.
5 Great Back Exercises
Here are 5 great back exercises that you should integrate into your workout. Aim for 10 – 12 repetitions for 3 sets. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
1. Close-Grip Pull downs – Attach a V-bar to a lat pull down machine. Sit so your knees are comfortably positioned under the knee pad. Grip V-bar with palms facing inward. Back should be in the upright position and slightly arched, with abdominals tight. Pull the cable attachment straight down in front of you, with elbows staying close to the sides. Focus on squeezing your shoulders blades down and using the lat muscles to bring the weight down. Come down to chest level and then slowly release. Repeat.
2. One-Arm Seated Cable Rows – These are great because they really isolate and strengthen each side. Attach a single handle to the seated row; sit on bench with feet on blocks. Now grab the weight with one hand and slide back, so that your knees are at a 45-degree angle. Body should be nice and tall. Place opposite hand behind your back. Now pull the weight in toward your body, keeping your elbow close by your side, and really focusing on pulling with the shoulder blade and not the arm. Then release slowly, without letting your body lean forward and repeat.
3. Chin-Ups – Stand below a chin-up bar. Grasp the bar with palms facing forward (overhand grip) and shoulder-width apart. Let yourself hang with feet off the ground. With elbows facing outward, pull yourself up so your chin is over the bar. Focus on driving your elbows into your ribcage; this will help recruit the proper back muscles. Pause slightly and then release and repeat.
4. Rear Delt Fly in Plank Position – This exercise is great because not only does it hit the rhomboids and hard to hit back muscles, but it also strengthens the lower back and core muscles. Start in push-up position with left arm and both feet supporting the body. Grasp a dumbbell with the right hand. Make sure body is in alignment with butt down. Now raise your right arm out to the side, with palm facing down. Focus on retracting that shoulder blade. When dumbbell is parallel to floor, pause, lower, and repeat. Finish reps on this side before switching.
5. Deadlifts – This is a great exercise for lower, middle, and upper back. Start in upright position, with feet shoulder width apart, shoulders relaxed, and upper body nice and tall. It’s very important to not round the back at any point during this exercise. Keeping eyes positioned forward, bend at your waist and knees and grab barbell with hands shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight, head up, chest forward, and weight on heels, stand up. To execute the movement, bring hips back as if you were reaching for something behind you. Weight should be on heels throughout whole movement. Keep bending at hips until the barbell is at shin level. Then squeeze with your glutes and push through your heels to bring your body upright. Repeat.
The Key to a Good Back
Remember when performing back exercises to always use your back and not to recruit other large muscles.Start with proper form before adding weight. Many people try to use a “rocking motion” when performing back exercises, but this is incorrect and can be dangerous- always focus on form.
The back defines your body; even though you cannot see it, everyone else can. The back can be what makes you stand out on stage or go home early. It is entirely up to you. If you work out properly, you will acquire that perfect V-shaped back and it will show through your clothes.
The reason many people have trouble training the back is because they give up. Exercising it a couple times a week with different intensities is the key to getting well defined. When going through the exercises make sure you visualize your back muscles working — this will help isolate and recruit the proper muscles throughout the movement. Putting all this together will give you the well defined and strong back you have been waiting for!