This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission for purchases made through those links. However, this DOES NOT affect the price of product/service in any way! Please read my Affiliate Disclosure for more info.
You are probably, like so many other men, more likely to chose a chest-and-arms workout as a go-to upper body routine, then back workout. If you want to build bigger, stronger back, but don’t know which exercises are the best back exercises for men, you’re in the right place.
Benefits Of Back Workout
Building up your back is more beneficial then you might think. Once you get going, your posture will improve. Your back can also play a large role in boosting strength for other lifts, like the bench press. The muscles in your upper- and mid-back help stabilize your shoulder joints. The stronger and more stable your shoulders, the more weight you can lift in just about every upper-body exercise.
Since many back exercises require you to use your arms for pulls and rows to activate the muscles, working your back is also great for targeting your arm muscles. Even though you’re focused on your back, your front gets to benefit, too. Spending more time on your rear will also help you earn that coveted V-shape upper-body.
1. Dumbbell Singl-Arm Row
Dumbbell rows are a classic for a reason – you have the benefit of working both sides of your body, plus fixing weaker spots by focusing on building strength imbalances on either side. Tip: don’t let your shoulder drop at the bottom of the movement. Lock your torso.
HOW TO: You only need one dumbbell for this
- Head to a flat bench and place your right hand against it under your shoulder, keeping your arm straight.
- Rest your right knee on the bench and step your other leg out to the side. With your free hand grab a dumbbell off the floor and row it up to your side until your upper arm is parallel with the floor.
- Lower slowly back to the floor and repeat.
2. Chest Supported Dumbbell Row
If you struggle with keeping your chest strong and your spine straight when you try bent-over exercise variations, this exercise is for you. The chest-supported row isolates your back and lets a bench do the work, allowing you to concentrate on moving the weight more efficiently.
- Sit on an incline bench with your chest forward, resting on the support.
- Grab dumbbells with a neutral grip, keeping your chest strong and allowing your arms to hang.
- Squeeze your back to pull the weights to your hips, with your elbows bent at 90-degree angles.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades for one to two seconds maintaining your position, then return to the starting point.
3. Pull-Up and/or Chin-Up (Variations)
“Must” if you want a V-shape physique. They build width because they target your latissimus dorsi (a.k.a. lats), the large back muscles that wrap around the sides of the upper body just below the arms. These muscles are the ones that give the torso a wider, flared shape (and you’ll seem slimmer). Tip: As you pull your chest to the bar during each rep, think about pulling your shoulder blades toward your back pockets. This will force you to use your upper-back muscles as opposed to your biceps.
HOW TO: For each rep of this back exercise (variations), you’ll start in a dead hang and then pull your chest to the bar.
- Grab the handles of the pull-up station with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended.
- Your hands should be around shoulder-width apart.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together, exhale and drive your elbows towards your hips to bring your chin above the bar.
- Lower under control back to the start position.
Mixed Grip Chin-Up
Placing your hands shoulder-width apart, use an underhand grip with one hand and an overhand grip with the other.
This is the same movement as a chin-up except that you grab the bar with an overhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width.
Perform a pull-up, and then slowly lower halfway down to a dead hang. Pause, then pull your chest to the bar again. Pause, now lower all the way down to a dead hang. That’s 1 rep.
4. Inverted Row
This exercise is harder then you might think. The move is a killer upper back driller that will tire you out sooner than you’d expect from its basic setup.
- Place a bar at about hip height
- Lower yourself to the ground underneath the bar, grabbing it with an overhand grip with your hands positioned directly above your shoulders. There should be some space beneath your back and the ground to hang suspended. You can fully extend your legs and rest your heels on the ground for a challenge, or bend your knees and plant your feet on the ground for an easier rep.
- Pull your shoulder blades back to start the rep, then pull up with your arms to lift your chest to the bar.
- Keep your wrists stable and maintain a straight line in your spine, squeezing your glutes.
- Touch your chest to the bar before straightening your arms to return to the starting position.
5. Renegade Row
Work with light dumbbells here — maintaining the proper spinal position is just as important and rowing the weight.
- Grab a pair of light dumbbells and about as much space as you would need to perform push-ups.
- Get in a plank position with your feet spread wide, gripping the dumbbells with your palms facing parallel to each other.
- Squeeze your glutes and core to maintain a strong spinal alignment, looking at the floor ahead of you.
- Use your lats to row one of the dumbbells to chest height, then return the weight to the ground, keeping the rest of your body balanced in its position.
- Control the load up and down the movement — if you have to contort your body and shift your back to lift the dumbbells, drop down to a lower weight.
- Perform a push-up, maintaining spinal alignment, and repeat the motion with the opposite arm.
6. Kettlebell Swings
Working your back’s posterior chain, kettlebell swings are effective for building a stronger core, which will help take weight away from your lower back. Start with a lighter weight, get used to form and progress slowly.
- Place a kettlebell a couple of feet in front of you.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and bend your knees to lean forward and grab the handle with both hands.
- With your back flat, engage your lats to pull the weight between your legs, then drive your hips forward and explosively pull the kettlebell up to shoulder height with your arms straight in front of you.
- Return to the start position and repeat without pauses.
7. Bent-Over Dumbbell Alternating Row
Work on each side of your body individually without using a bench for support. You shouldn’t be focused on pulling big weight here, especially with your back in the bent position.
- Grab a pair of dumbbells, hinge at your hips and knees, and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor.
- Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, and your lower back should be naturally arched; just make sure to avoid rounding your lower back.
- Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length from your shoulders with your palms facing each other.
- Keeping your position, lift one dumbbell to your side, pause at the top of the movement, and slowly lower it.
- Then repeat with your other arm.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have any question, or want to leave a comment – impression, suggestion, your thoughts, experience… please do so in the comment section below, and I’ll be happy to help you out.