Build an Impressive Back

This post will tackle all the muscle in the back , will include exercise for each muscle part of the back and will involve a workout at the end to maximise Growth in Muscle Mass. One thing I will advise you is that if you are planning to train biceps a separate day from the back day, you should not train do it 48 hours before and after the Back day to avoid Over-training.

An important note of Back Training(any Exercise) is, during contraction of the muscle, you have to flare out your chest out in-order to enable your shoulders to to give your back a fuller contraction.

So let’s break down the Back Muscles:



The Traps is normally a huge back muscle attached with the spinal cord and goes round your back. It can be divided into 3 categories:

Upper Traps


Upper Traps– they do a lot. Bilaterally (when working together), the Upper Traps extend the head and neck. When work working unilaterally (just the right or just the left), the Upper Trap does the following:
-Laterally flexes (side bends) the head and neck to the same side;
-Rotates the head and neck to the opposite side;
-Elevates (lifts) the shoulder blade;
-Upwardly rotates the shoulder blade.

Workout: Dumbbell Shrug, Front raise to the ceiling,Face Pull, Dumbbell Upright Row

Note: The shrug is better with a dumbbell than a barbell due to the versatility obtained in moving the weight up and down. During the movement you should squeeze the back then lift the weight up. Using a barbell, you won’t be able to do that.

Also,the upright row should be done with dumbbells rather than barbell as the latter would cause some internal rotation of the shoulder which may cause tearing of your Rotator Cuff over time.

Middle and Lower Traps

The yellow and purple section represent the Mid and Low Traps respectively

The Mid and Lower Traps help stabilise the scapulae, so that we aren’t so quick to shrug our shoulders. Even though the Mid and Lower Traps don’t extend our spine, they do help with the feeling and look of “standing up straight” by taking us out of the hunched over position we all get from driving and sitting at computers.

Workout:Angel of Death, One arm dumbbell Row(Tripod Stance),V Bar Row,Dumbbell Row, Dumbbell reverse flyes, DeadRow

Note:When performing the One Arm Dumbbell Row, it is recommended for safety purposes to do it with the legs side-to-side(Like a Tripod) instead of one behind the other. Also when rowing the dumbbell, aim for the chest,that is, pull the weights in direction of the chest in-order to actually train the mid and lower traps, while maintaining the chest flared-out technique.

Rotator Cuffs


The rotator cuffs are actually 4 Muscles in the back with 3 of them being trained during external rotation of the shoulder and one of them being trained during internal rotaion. The 3 externally-rotating muscles(supraspinatus, infraspinatus and teres minor) are often ignored during training. These muscles contribute largely to the posture and health of the shoulders and any injuries involving these may have a terrible impact on you workout- it may even end careers. So you should be super careful about these and there are a couple of exercise that you should and should’t do in order to preserve them.

Exercises that should not be done:

Behind the Back Shoulder Press(may it be with dumbbells or barbells)

Barbell Upright Row

Bench Dips(unless you position your hands outwards/to the sideways with the underhand wrist facing your body)

Exercises that should be done:

Perform external rotation with elastic bands/Dumbbells



Middle Back(Latissimus Dorsi-Lats)


The Lats is a large, flat muscle on the back that stretches to the sides, behind the arm, and is partly covered by the trapezius on the back near the midline. Its is important to note that the lats has an impact on the thickness of the back and that it is an important part of the back not to be ignored. It is also responsible for giving the back the V-Taper shape.


  1. Lats Pulldown
  2. Underhand Lats Pulldown
  3. Bent Over Underhand Barbell Row
  4. One arm high pulley cable row
  5. Pull Over(hands flared out)
  6. One arm dumbell row(aim for the abs)
  7. Pullups
  8. Single Arm Pulley Row


  1. Overhand Lats Pulldownyour elbow should become closest to your back to ensure maximum contraction. You can use a wide grip but it is better to use a shoulder-width grip. Again the Chest-Flaring technique is super important here if you want to give your lats a better contraction.
  2. Underhand Lats Pulldown-Again it is better to adopt a shoulder width grip and here, you will attain a full contraction of the Lats when your elbow touches the lats-don’t stop in between otherwise the contraction will be incomplete and ineffective.Also having an underhand grip makes it one of the best exercises for the lats as it enables you to get a much more increased stretch on the muscle combared to overgrip pulldowns/rows
  3. The Pullover- When doing it with the elbow a little flared out you target your lats and the more your elbows come close to each other, the more the contraction switches to our upper chest. So make sure you are properly positioning the elbows during that exercise.

Teres Major


The teres major is a muscle that assists the function of the lats. This muscle is also important for filling out the thickness of the back by sitting just above the latissimus dorsi. You can train this muscle more specifically by widening your grip during a lat pulldown. Keep your hands as far apart on the pulldown bar as you can and you will feel the extra focus being driven towards the teres major.


Wide Grip Over grip Lats Pulldown

Lower back


Lower back exercises are very important, may it be you are a bodybulder or someone in rehabilitation. Training your lower back will entail Core Strength and Core strength (core pertaining to the central muscles of the body; lower back, glutes and the abdominal region) is a very important health component, in that it supports the body in almost every movement and position.

Workout: Deadlift(Any Version) , Hyperextension

The BACKLASH Workout

This workout will basically create a workout out of the exercises above. If you are planning to train your Biceps on another day than your Back day, ensure to do it 48 hours before or after the back workout. One thing to keep in mind in this workout is the Chest Flared-out Technique, which, I again mention, is preponderant and crucial for an effective back Training.

The Backlash Workout( each exercise should be 3 Sets of 8-10 Repetitions with 45sec-1min rest in between):


-External Rotation with Bands/Dumbbells


  • -Dumbbell Shrug Superset Deadrow(With Barbell)

  • -V-Bar Row

  • -Face Pull

  • -Underhand Lats Pulldown

  • -Deadlift

  • -Overhand Lats Pulldown

  • Bodyweight Hyperextension


An important thing to note is that this workout is a mass gaining workout and you should use moderately heavy weights to help you crank the 8-10 repetions, that is, use a weight that enables you to max out your sets and reach failure in a range of 8-10 reps. So ditch the ego, and do the workout the right way to increase muscle mass, even if it implies using light weights to achieve those 8-10 rep range.

So here you have it – a detailed breakdown of the back and an awesome workout. If you have any suggestions/problems, drop a comment below. Otherwise feel free to contact me on my Facebook page. Last but not least, I wish to thanks Athleanx, Christin Davis Pilates and for providing resources for this post.



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