September 06, 2020 10 min read
So you’ve been working hard and hitting the iron temple regularly. You’ve earned a bangin’ booty and a tight core—but you’re starting to feel like there’s something missing from your training regime.
Compared to the prior two muscle groups, the back is an oft-forgotten part of the physique that has a massive impact on overall aesthetic; not to mention health as well. Containing some of the largest muscles in the upper body, the back is not only important for looking sexy in that new backless dress, but it’ll also help your other lifts and functional, everyday lifting.
We’ll be looking at the best back exercises you can do to both build muscle in this area, and tone down the back fat.
While “broadening the back” is more often reserved for the goals that men have in the gym, getting a wider upper back has the aesthetic benefit of making the waist seem slimmer than it really is. Furthermore, a strong and toned lower back will help you when it comes to pulling off a crop top.
But the aesthetics are only a small part of the full picture.
Since they’re so important and so large, the back muscles are an important metabolic muscle in the human body. That means you’ll burn more calories not just when you’re training them, but also when you use them in everyday life.
Your back muscles are also the key to supporting a healthy posture—no surprise there. But a healthy posture means fewer back issues, especially when you age or are doing jobs that require a lot of physical work. While the weak upper back muscles can lead to rounded shoulders (especially if you’re training the front too much) and a frozen thoracic spine. In the long run, this puts more pressure on the lower back.
And on the other hand, a weak lower back can cause issues when trying to lift heavy things or if you’re forced to sit for long hours at a desk.
Strengthening this aspect of the body is a sure-fire way to reduce the chances of developing issues in this area, and reducing any back pain you might already have.
The term “back” not only refers to the largest muscle in your upper body (the lats), but also a collection of other muscles that span your backside from the very top to the very bottom. These muscles include:
Starting from the top of your body, the traps are the muscles that form a diamond shape between your spine and your shoulders. They’re located in the very upper back. Along with the traps, the rhomboids are also positioned in the mid-upper back area.
Below these lie the lats—the largest muscle in the upper body. If developed, they’re a key contributor to getting the v-taper that slims the waist, but they also help to move your core and your arms.
Finally, the muscles of the lower back—the erector spinae—are essential when it comes to stabilizing your spine, preventing lower back problems, and will also help when it comes to improving your coordination and balance.
While it’s one thing to know the proper exercises to do to get the results you want, it’s a completely different thing to know how to do them—and we’re not just talking about form.
Depending on your goals, you’ll want to make some movements your “main” lifts during a workout session while also paying attention to the volume you lift over the number of reps.
If you primarily want to tone and lose back fat to show off your muscles underneath, high reps with isolation exercises will be the way to go (along with a good diet, but we’ll touch on that later). Isolation movements being those that focus on a single muscle or muscle group. For example, bicep curls or seated rows.
On the other hand, if you want to build strength and muscles, compound movements are what should make up the basis of your training routine. These are lifts such as squats, deadlifts, and bent over rows. By using several muscle groups and joints, your body is trained to work in unison and different muscles are forced to coordinate with one another.
Think, isolation for sculpting, and compound for strength and muscle mass.
Other than that, make sure to warm-up before your workouts. Doing some low to mid-intensity cardio with some stretches will go a long way in helping your body warm-up and get ready for the gains ahead.
They say that 30% of a fitness routine is working out; the rest is diet. If you’re trying to tone and get a sculpted back, then diet becomes even more important.
No one can out-train a bad diet, so it’s absolutely essential that you put diet at the forefront of your routine. And while diets are a dime a dozen, in the end, it comes down to calories in, calories out. Simplifying things and finding out what works for you is the best to come out on top with your fitness goals, whatever they may be.
The easiest way? Stick to clean, whole foods. No garbage fast food—except on cheat days. Pay attention to eating high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs, and you’ll be well on your way to turning heads with a sexy back.
If you’re trying to build muscle or go for strength training in the backend, then eat more calories than you spend throughout the day. But that’s not an excuse for eating poor-quality calories, so stick to eating enough high-quality protein, complementing your diet with a protein shake if need be.
A strong back means a strong, aesthetic body, so incorporate the principles, workouts, and diet advice into your fitness journey and you’ll be reaping the benefits in no-time.
What’s key is that you have a plan and stick to it; you need a goal in mind and a way to build your routine around that goal. If you’re doing all the wrong movements in the wrong ways, you’ll definitely get somewhere but it might not be where you wanted to go.
Not only will you be turning heads next time you hit the beach or don a backless dress, but you’ll also feel better and more powerful than ever before.