7 Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

7 Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

Building back muscles is important for building strength, improving posture, and reducing the growing number of back pain. It is estimated that about 8 in 10 people will suffer from back pain one day. It can be a pain in the cervical vertebrae, back pain, or the famous low back pain. In addition to the aesthetic side, building your back is therefore really necessary for assiduous athletes but also for the most sedentary. Here are 7 effective exercises to do indoors or at home.

Some of the exercises offered use fitness equipment, but you can just as easily replace them with elastic bands found in sports stores.

Precautions: back pain can lead to certain contraindications. Ask your doctor or physiotherapist for advice before practicing the suggested exercises. In addition, the movements should not hurt. Never force and abandon the exercise in case of pain.

7 Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

Exercise 1: Pull-Ups

If you were to select just one exercise to strengthen your back, it would most likely be overhand pull-ups (thumbs facing each other). It must be said that this poly-articular exercise makes it possible to strengthen almost all the muscles of the back, namely your trapezius, your rhomboids, your teres major as well as the latissimus dorsi.

The exercise uses a horizontal bar. If you do not have one, you can attach 2 hooks to the ceiling and hang rings on them via straps.

When performing, be sure to extend your chest to effectively engage your back muscles and tighten your shoulder blades.

When doing pull-ups, there are two major mistakes. The first is to round your back at the top of the movement, hence the interest, for example, to look at the ceiling and not the ground during a pull. The second mistake is to fully extend your arms at the bottom of the movement. Whatever the exercise carried out in bodybuilding, it is very often advisable to keep a slight flex. Fully straining your joints when handling a load will only increase the risk of injury. Also, be sure to perform the movements smoothly and without going too fast, to avoid injury.

If you are a beginner, pull-ups are also for you! To do this, simply get a rubber band. Attach the elastic to the bar and place your feet there so that it is considered or slightly lighter depending on the resistance strength chosen. Thus, you will be able to perform your first assisted pull-ups to strengthen your back.

Exercise 2: Lat Pull Down

7 Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, you will benefit from the lat pull down. The exercise consists of grasping the bar to bring it back into contact with the chest. You can also use a rubber band attached to the ceiling.

The bust will be straight when pulling or slightly leaning back. During the movement, remember to tighten your shoulder blades to gain efficiency and feel your back muscles work better. Again, it is best not to fully extend your arms at the top of the movement. This position would put a lot of stress on the shoulder joint which could create trauma in the medium term.

Moreover, the fact of not fully extending your arms is beneficial for your joints and your muscle gain. Indeed, the time under tension, in other words, the duration during which your muscle is actually at work will only be improved.

It is estimated that to aim for muscle hypertrophy, it is necessary to achieve continuous tension of 30 to 60 seconds per set, which usually corresponds to a range of repetitions between 10 and 15, with 1 minute 30 minutes of rest. When carrying out your chest pull, be sure to control the load both when raising and lowering the bar.

Finally, if you feel like trying your hand at neck pulling, neck pulling, or neck press, we strongly advise against it. This variant consists of bringing the bar behind the neck and is no longer at chest level. However, this position puts the shoulder in a very vulnerable position, without a significant gain in terms of muscle recruitment (2). When we know that among all the injuries in bodybuilding, the incidence of shoulder injuries (3) is 36%, we, therefore, encourage you to take care of it through a training program and exercises adapted to your body type.

Exercise 3: Seated Cable Row

7 Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

The previous exercises are some of the best for effective back muscle building. However, it is essential to vary your training program, whether it is to gain in efficiency or to preserve your health. Working a muscle continuously at the same angle is not recommended. For example, pull-ups and lat pull down involve having your arms above your head. However, this position increases the risk of shoulder impingement syndrome, which can result in tendinopathy of the rotator cuff, causing pain in the shoulders. If your job also requires being with your arms in the air all day long like painters, the risk will only be increased (5). So it's all a question of dosage!

To vary your program and strengthen your back, we present seated cable row. In a seated position, with your feet on the supports in front of you, be sure to keep your back straight while extending your chest. Grasp the bar, inhale and then pull it horizontally towards the navel.

To be more effective, be sure to pull your elbows back, tighten your shoulder blades, and don't use a back and forth swing. Your bust may oscillate slightly to engage the shoulder but within reason. Exhale as the bar returns, controlling the movement.

If you do not have a device to perform this exercise, you can use elastic bands to attach to the foot.

While we have a preference for the tight-grip horizontal pull, there are dozens of variations to try out. Among them, one-sided or bungee work is possible if you train at home. Regarding the unilateral, hook a handle to your pulley to pull with one arm, the elbow stuck to the side. For the elastic, hang it on sturdy support at chest height in front of you. Standing with your legs slightly bent, pull your elbows back to bring the elastic towards you with both arms and strengthen your back muscles.

Exercise 4: Barbell Row

7 Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

The straight bar row is a classic for the back. The exercise consists of leaning your chest forward, between 90 ° and 145 °, grasping a straight bar and pulling it towards the navel, keeping it close to the body. The shoulders are pulled back, then the elbows before maintaining the contraction for 1 second. Control the load during the descent then immediately set off for a new repetition.

If you do not have a straight bar, you can use rubber bands to attach under the shoes.

Reverse rowing explanation diagram with rubber bands

The common mistake is to want to put too much on the bar. Thus, your bust will straighten up repetition after repetition, deteriorating the quality of execution and the recruitment of the back muscles. If this is the case, lower your ambitions to have a smooth movement from the first to the tenth repetition, during 3 to 5 sets of work.

The back muscles are hard to feel. To improve the sensations, you can use the variant with dumbbells. This dumbbell rowing, also called "lumberjack" can be done at home with a simple dumbbell, standing or resting on a flat bench. The exercise involves pulling the shoulder and elbow back to recruit its loins unilaterally.

Exercise 5: Reverse Rowing

7 Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

This bodyweight exercise can be done anywhere:

In the weight room, in a guided setting

Outdoors, at TRX

At home, with two chairs and a broomstick.

This is one of the best exercises for strengthening your back. It strengthens the upper back, the back of the shoulders, the back muscles but also the biceps. It also acts as a sheathing by strengthening the musculature of the waist.

Lie on the floor and grasp the bar with your full hand, in an overhand grip. Thus, you will only have the heels in contact with the ground. The objective is to remain well sheathed during the execution. The exercise consists of keeping your body straight and pulling on your arms to bring the torso back towards the bar. This action will have the effect of strengthening your back muscles. Control the descent without touching the ground and then set off for a new repetition.

Also called reverse pump, it will therefore be a question of pulling up to the strength of the back and arms. To increase the difficulty, you can use a weighted vest or perform this exercise in a Bi-set. For example, you can do 10 repetitions of pulling and then immediately follow up with the reverse row.

Although visually easy, reverse rowing is not. Thus, it can be practiced from beginner to expert. The advantage of reverse rowing at TRX is a work of balance and posture in parallel, which increases the difficulty. If you decide to try this exercise at home, it is doable. You just need to position a sturdy broomstick between two chairs.

Exercise 6: Deadlift

7 Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

This last exercise requires a certain level of practice before it is performed correctly. The deadlift or deadlift is therefore useful for intermediate and experienced practitioners. The exercise consists of standing upright with the supports shoulder-width apart. Grasp the bar on the ground then lift the load by descending on your thighs while maintaining a natural arch. Be careful, the back should never be round.

Exercise is very effective for building your lower back, back, buttocks and thighs. However, the error is not forgiving. Poorly mastered, this exercise presents obvious dangers for the back. It is therefore essential to be supervised by a sports coach to acquire a correct execution, first empty bar then gradually increasing the weight over the months.

If you are a beginner, we will direct you to lumbar bench extensions to strengthen your lower back and back. If you train at home, you will be able to strengthen your lower back on the ground, through the exercise commonly called "Superman" (see the following exercise)

Exercise 7: Superman Exercise

7 Effective Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

Lie on your stomach, on your lumbar bench, or directly on the floor. The exercise consists of oscillating your torso up and down to strengthen the erector muscles of the spine. The feet will be blocked by the device or will remain on the ground for the “superman” exercise. The exercise can be done in the form of core training. In this case, hold the position for the allotted time to use an isometric contraction regimen and feel your lower back burn second after second.


Building your back should be a necessity for everyone. Regardless of age, level, whether one is sedentary, athletic, or bodybuilding, everyone has an interest in strengthening their back regularly to improve their health. A muscular back improves posture and sports performance. Muscle weakness in the back can induce back pain of all kinds. To put an end to that, we, therefore, offer you these 7 exercises as well as variants to strengthen your back in the gym, at home, or outdoors:


Lat Pull Down

Seated Cable Row

Barbell Row

Reverse rowing


Superman Exercise

Practiced 1 to 2 times a week, 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 20 repetitions, these exercises will directly participate in shaping your back, strengthening it, and improving your general well-being.

Related article: Top 6 Exercises to Strengthen Your Back

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