8 Best Back Muscle Building Exercises to build a wide, muscular back

A wide, muscular and v-shaped back is the muscle builders' ultimate test. Discover the 8 most effective back muscle building exercises to build a wide, muscular, v-shaped back most men crave for.

A rugged, muscular and sexy back can be yours!

If you are in a hurry, then read my 8 best back exercises here. Or else read on for best back training techniques.

I have a question for you. Which of the following is the biggest muscle group?

  • Shoulders
  • Back
  • Chest
  • Legs

If you answered anything other than back muscles, you would be wrong!

Surprising but true. The little known, not-easily-seen, back muscles are the largest muscle groups in your body and have a very high anabolic potential.

And anabolic potential means massive muscle gains. If you are not training back with heavy deadlifts, pull ups and Rows then the seeds of fast muscle gains are not in you. How?

Build strong back and core muscles and ALL your lifts will pick up. How’s that for motivation!

And to build on that motivation this article will show you how to train back muscles, 8 most effective exercises and 3 effective back muscle building workouts to choose from. All with one aim - to help you build a muscular, thick and wide back.

Lets roll in...

Inside This Article:

Why Back Muscle Training is Important for Bodybuilders

Balanced Chest, Shoulder and Back Muscle Growth for Perfect Physique

Firstly, Back muscles are not your typical show-off muscles. Unless you are a competing bodybuilder, you might not feel the need for naked back! {If you are competitive, skip this section and read on because you know the need for a muscular, powerful back}.

But if your back training has not been a priority, then you are missing on a big piece of the muscle puzzle. You are missing on building the base on which all other lifts depend. Your other big lifts will not reach their true potential and neither will your muscle goals.

Secondly, overtraining chest and shoulders {mirror muscles} and underworking the back muscles creates a muscle and strength imbalance. This will not be immediately apparent but gradually leads to posture problems and make you injury prone.

Thirdly, a balanced physique, with chest, shoulders and back muscles in perfect alignment is a treat for the eyes, both dressed and naked! Girls crave it and other guys get jealous.

Bottomline: So by building back muscles you will not only get a sexy, proportionate physique but you will also build awesome strength which is rapidly transferred to your other lifts like bench press and squats.

Excited? You should be. But to build them you need to know...

Basics of Back Muscle Anatomy and their Functions

There are 3 big muscles in the back - the latissimus dorsi { or lats}, the trapezius and spinal erector muscles.

  1. Latissimus dorsi are the large triangular muscles extending from your shoulders to the small of your back. They are the largest muscle group of your upper body.
  2. Trapezius or the neck muscle 
  3. Spinal Erectors: Powerful muscles of your lower back. They are critical for stabilising your spine in heavy lifts along with core muscles.

Their main function is to Pull. They pull the shoulders downwards as in pull ups/chin ups. They work with biceps in doing so.

The spinal erectors hold the spine in place so that you can lift big.

Although compound move live deadlifts work all back muscles, you need specialisation training for total back development.

With this basic anatomy and physiology, lets see the 6 critical training points in your back training...

6 Critical Training points for Back Muscles

Want to get the best out of every back exercise and workout? Then use these 6 critical training points on all back exercises.

  1. Train compound moves like deadlifts, pull ups and rows before lat pulldowns, shrugs or one arm rows. 

  2. Pull with back and not arm muscles. This is a major mistake beginners make. Pulling with your arms works your biceps and not back muscles. How to do that? Pull with your elbows and imagine arms just as levers connecting the bar to your back muscles.

  3. Perform deadlifts first and then one exercise each for upper, middle and low back in each workout.

  4. Stretching your back muscles in between the exercises is a proven muscle builder. They stretch the fascia and helps muscle growth.

  5. Since you cannot see your back muscles, develop an excellent mind-muscle connection. This is the key to back training.

  6. Give your back muscles plenty of rest. Here is the fact - Small muscle groups recover faster and since your back muscles are the biggest muscle group, you need to give at least 48 - 72 hours between workout with plenty of quality proteins and fats.

Apply these 6 principles to every single back exercise and see the effectiveness. 

With that its time to learn the 8 best back bodybuilding exercises of all time...

8 Most Effective Back Muscle Building Exercises

Here are 6 best back exercises to do and 2 worst ones to avoid.

6 Best back muscle building exercises:

2 Worst back muscle building exercises to avoid:

1. Wide Grip Chin Ups

The wide, sweeping lats can be built with one exercise only - Wide grip chin ups.

It works the trapezius, rhomboid and latissimus dorsi muscle in one single move. 

This functional muscle builders can be done best with varied grips: narrow, medium and wide. For complete development, you should perform all grip variations but concentrate on wide grip most of the time.

Here is how to perform pull ups and chin ups perfectly.

2. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are the best muscle builder of the upper body. They build your back, your arms, your legs and in all work 200 muscles of your body.

But here's the trick: Go heavy. You have not seen the power of deadlifts until you can lift 1-2 times your bodyweight for a dozen reps. That is when you see the magic. Most people never reach that level even after 1 year of training. Will you?

Learn how to perform deadlift and its variations with correct form.

3. Barbell and Dumbbell Rows

Rowing is the second function of your back muscles {first if pulling from above}.

The two best rowing moves are barbell rows and t-bar rows. But off late research has shown that bench-supported rows target your upper back more.

Bench Supported Rows

Heavy rowing can cause low back fatigue which can impair your form, taking focus off the upper back muscles. Dumbbell rows on an incline supported bench are far superior.

T-bar rows offer a good alternative when performed with strict form.

How to perform Rows with proper form.

4. Barbell and Dumbbell Shrugs

Want a muscular, thick neck that will stand out both in shirts and t-shirts? Then master heavy shrugs.

Your trapezius muscles receive heavy isometric stimulation in deadlifts and rows but nothing can beat heavy shrugs for building that v-shaped trap muscle.

Heavy dumbbell shrugs adds longer range of motion and are an excellent finisher move to barbell shrugs. 

5. One Arm rows - Seated and Dumbbell

The one arm rows bring one new thing to rowing exercises - instability. And your back muscles respond best to unilateral instability training.

One arm rows, both seated and bent over increase your latissimus dorsi range of motion and help target them optimally.

The bench supported version calls for strict form and is a superior option.

6. Superman Exercise

Here is my request. Don't judge this exercise before trying.

Most bodybuilders put down bodyweight exercises especially the ones like superman exercise which looks a little girly. Please don't!

This is the best exercise to target your erector spinae muscles which are the key to heavy deadlifts, back health and longevity.

Perform this exercise on a swiss ball on non-deadlifts days.

2 Exercises to Avoid

Here are two bad back muscle exercises which are best avoided. These are controversial, but since you have more effective ones, these can be avoided altogether.

7. Straight/Stiff Leg Deadlifts

Avoid total straightening of your legs for better spine health. Always perform deadlifts with a small bend in your knees.

Work on your hamstring flexibility too. 

8. Upright Rows/Back Rounding/Shoulder rolling

Upright rows is a combo exercise for deltoids and trapezius muscles but work neither of them optimally. Also research has shown that rolling of your shoulders can dislocate your shoulder.

For all back exercises: Avoid rounding or excessive straightening of your back. Keep your back naturally arched in all exercises. Your natural arch is natural, hence perfect way to exercise.

Best Muscle Building Program

What if you are guaranteed to build double the muscle in half the time? Then take the 40 day MI40 muscle building challenge here. Its the best way to learn perfect from for any exercise and build muscle in only 40 minute workouts, three times a week.

If you are skinny then you can also try the NNMB Muscle Building Program.

3 Effective Back Muscle Building Workouts

Here are 3 effective muscle building workouts for your back muscles.

  1. Back Muscle Building Workout for Beginners
  2. Back Muscle Building Workout for intermediates
  3. Back Muscle Building Workout for Advanced


Not only bodybuilders can boast of a muscular, thick back that is proportionate to chest/deltoid region. Why?

They don't give the back muscles the attention they deserve and in doing so they miss out on the amazing muscle building potential of back exercises. Don't be one of them.

Use the information you learned here to prioritise your back muscle training and a sexy, balanced physique will be yours.

› Back Muscle Building Exercise

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