We all want a nice, wide and plump back. Yet in the gym the back often gets a lot less attention than it deserves! Maybe that's because we don't see it in the mirror every day, or maybe it's because the results aren't visible quickly enough. Either way, training your back should be standard practice for everyone. That is why we explain in this article which exercises you can use to get such a thick, wide back!
The back muscles
Not only because of aesthetic motives - after all, big wings is the ideal image of every bodybuilder - but also because your back supports you during many exercises, a back training is important. You can train both your lower back and your 'upper back' and there is also a distinction between exercises for the thickness of your back and exercises for the width of your back.
The back consists of various muscles. The most important back muscles are:
- Latissimus dorsi;
- erector spinae;
The latissimus dorsi is the largest muscle in the whole body in terms of surface area. This muscle is located on the back and side of your back. By training this muscle you get the so-called wings. So, with exercises for your lats you actually train the latissimus dorsi. The diamond-shaped muscle at the top of your back is the trapezius. This ensures, among other things, that you can move your shoulder blade. The erector spinae runs from your cervical vertebrae all the way to your sacrum. If this muscle is well developed, this creates the 'Christmas tree effect' in your lower back with a low fat percentage. The rhomboid is located on the top and center of your back and, together with the trapezius, provides the thickness on this part of your back.
The back muscles work together in most movements and it is therefore difficult to train one specific back muscle in isolation. Because the back muscles work together, it is important that you also train all back muscles. When there is too great a difference in strength between the various back muscles, the chance of dangerous injuries increases. But when you see that a certain part of your back is lagging behind physically from the rest, you can of course put a little more focus on this in your training. In addition, you can make a distinction in your back training between training on back width and back thickness.
Exercises for the back
You may already be familiar with many of these exercises and perhaps even perform them regularly. But do you also know exactly which muscles the exercises are suitable for? We explain a number of exercises to you and we tell you exactly which muscles in your back they are suitable for. This way you can ensure that next time you take all the muscles in your back with you during your back training!
The pull-up is a difficult exercise, but it is also an exercise that (almost) everyone wants to master. Practice makes perfect, so even though the pull-ups don't quite work out yet, don't give up! Just keep practicing, and then you can also easily do pull-ups. With the pull-ups of the back muscles you mainly activate your lats and to a lesser extent the trapezius and erector spinae. In addition, pull-ups also activate your biceps and core, among other things. You train with pull-ups mainly on back width.
In most gyms there is a special bar for doing pull-ups. You stand with your face to this rod and grasp it with a very wide, overhanded grip. If you are a bit smaller, you naturally use a step to get to the bar. Now hang on the rod, breathe in and pull yourself up until you reach the rod approximately with the top of your chest. Do not try to cramp and also try to hang as still as possible when accelerating. Here too the following applies: practice makes perfect. The more you do pull-ups, the better it will go. After you have pulled yourself up, you come down with a controlled movement towards the starting position.
Are pull-ups a breeze for you? Then make it harder for yourself through one dipping calls to do and attach weights to it!
The chin-up is a variant of the pull-up. With this variant you use a narrower, private grip, which activates other muscles. Many bodybuilders find chin-ups easier than pull-ups. Both your lats and biceps are activated with this exercise.
You grasp the bar with your palms facing you, approximately shoulder width. Hang on the bar and pull yourself up in a controlled motion. Try to keep your body as still as possible. Try to reach the bar with the top of your chest. When you reach the top, lower yourself in a calm, controlled movement and then pull yourself up again.
Seated cable row
With the seated cable row you make a rowing movement. You can perform this exercise with a wide and narrow grip. We focus here on the variant with the narrow grip. With that you mainly appeal to your lats and your rhomboid. To a lesser extent, your trapezius and biceps are also activated in the seated row.
You run the seated cable row in the appropriate machine. Attach a narrow grip to the machine and sit down. You keep your back straight; if the seated row machine has a low bench (just above the ground) keep your legs slightly bent. Sit back far enough to maintain tension on the cable during the exercise. Now you are going to pull the handle towards your stomach. You hold your shoulder blades backwards and when the grip is near your stomach you pause for a moment. Now let the handle return to the starting position in a gentle movement and then repeat the entire exercise until the desired number of reps.
Barbell is over row
With the barbell over row you mainly train your lats and trapezius. Because with this exercise you address the stabilizing muscles of your upper body, the barbell over row can also contribute to the development of a better posture and posture. In addition to the lats and trapezius, you also train your biceps, shoulders, forearms and abs with this exercise. An exercise that you cannot skip!
You grab a barbell and hang a suitable weight on it. Now stand with your feet shoulder width and bend your knees slightly. Now squat down, grab the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width with an overhand grip and come up again. Your knees are now slightly bent again and you are bent over, so that the barbell is approximately at your knees. Make sure you keep your back straight. Now you are going to pull the barbell towards your body with a quick, explosive movement. The barbell comes out just under your chest. Now slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position and repeat this until you have reached the desired number of reps.
Dumbbell is over row
The dumbbell is over row is the brother of the barbell is over row. As you probably already understand, you perform this exercise with dumbbells. This exercise is therefore carried out unilaterally. You train with your dumbbell over row mainly your lats, but also your trapezius and your rhomboids are covered.
You perform this exercise on a horizontal bench. You can also perform the exercise on a bench with a slight angle or standing, while leaning on, for example, the row of dumbbells. Do whatever is most comfortable for you! We explain the exercise here on the basis of the performance on a bench. Grab a dumbbell and a bench. Place your right leg on the bench with your knee bent and your left leg is next to the bench. You now also rest on the bench with your right hand. You are sitting on all fours on the bench, as it were, but with only one side of your body. Now grasp the dumbbell with your left hand and while keeping your back straight, pull the dumbbell up along your body as in a rowing motion. At the top, hold the dumbbell for a moment and then lower it in a controlled manner. You repeat this until the desired number of reps has been reached, and then you switch sides.
In addition to the squat, the deadlift is one of the most important compound exercises. With this exercise you address different muscle groups and you also burn super calories with it. However, the deadlift is a difficult exercise and requires good technique and execution, otherwise there is a chance that you will get ugly injuries. In this article we will tell you in detail how to perform a good deadlift and which variants there are. If you want some extra protection for your back during deadlifting, you can opt for one training belt to use.
The muscle group that is primarily addressed by the 'normal' version of the deadlift, the conventional deadlift, is the lower back. The hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes and calves are also activated with this exercise.
You start the deadlift by placing a weighted barbell on the floor. You stand in front of the barbell with your feet shoulder-width apart and 'under' the barbell so that the barbell is above the center of your foot. Then grab the barbell on the outside of your legs with your arms straight. You will now lower your knees until your thighs are almost horizontal, tighten your core and lift the barbell by stretching your legs. When the barbell is level with your knees, also raise your upper body by pressing your hips forward. Make sure you keep your back straight throughout the exercise! Once you are upright, hold this position for about 2 seconds and then return to the starting position.
This exercise is a variation on the barbell over row. With the t-bar row you train both your lats and your trapezius as well as your biceps, shoulders and forearms.
You use a barbell or a T-bar for this exercise. Place it so that the back is secured. In most gyms there is a special 'holder' where you can attach the barbell or T-bar. Place discs on the other side of the bar. If you are using a barbell, you can clamp a small handle around the barbell so that you can use it as a handle. You stand with your legs shoulder-width apart while the bar is between your legs. Lower your knees slightly, keep your back straight and grasp the bar with your palms facing each other. Now you are going to pull the bar towards you. When the bar almost hits your body, hold it for a moment, then slowly lower it again and repeat this movement.
The lat prayer is an exercise that unfortunately does not occur in every training routine. For real wings, this exercise is really one must and he should therefore be executed much more.
You perform this exercise in a cable station and use a V-grip or a rope. Try what works best for you. Position the pulley high enough so that you keep tension on the cable throughout the exercise. Grasp the rope or the V-grip with your thumbs up and palms facing each other. Take a few steps backwards so that you create a greater distance between yourself and the pulley. Sit on your knees, lean a little bit and make sure there is tension on the cable. Keep your back as straight as possible. Now pull the rope towards your hips in an explosive but controlled motion. Try to focus on your lats and as little as possible on your arms while pulling. Your elbows may be slightly bent during the exercise. Once at the bottom, hold this position for a while and then head back towards the starting position.
One of the more famous exercises for your lats is the lateral (or lat) pulldown. This exercise is similar to the pull-up, only this time the rod comes to you instead of you to the rod. That also makes this exercise a bit easier than pull-ups! This exercise is named after the latissimus dorsi and logically this is the muscle that the focus is on during this exercise. To a lesser extent, you also train your trapezius, rhomboid and biceps.
You perform the lateral pulldown on the pulldown machine. Attach a wide bar to the machine and grasp it with a wide overhand grip as well. You grasp the bar wider than shoulder width. Now sit down and pull the bar toward the top of your chest in a controlled motion. Keep your back straight and pull the bar down until it almost touches your chest. Hold it briefly in this position and then return the bar to the starting position in a gentle, controlled movement.
The lat pulldown is a great exercise to work on your V shape!
straight arm pull down
You carry out the straight arm pulldown in a cable station. For this exercise you use a bar with a wide grip, as with the lat pulldown. With this exercise you mainly train your lats, but also your rhomboid, triceps and shoulders help with this exercise.
Stand with your face at the cable station with your feet hip-width apart. Grasp the bar a little wider than shoulder width with your arms extended and your thumbs inwards. Keep your back straight, tighten your abdominal muscles and bring the bar down with your arms extended, towards your thigh. Then quietly return the rod to the starting position and repeat this movement. Make sure you keep your arms stretched throughout the exercise!
If you get started with these exercises in the gym, it can hardly go wrong. And remember, developing a good back takes time, so be patient and pay enough attention to your back during your workouts. Good luck!
What is your favorite exercise to train your back?
Let us know in a response!