Back Muscle Anatomy And The Best Back Exercises

Back training should focus on movements that will help you contract your back muscles the best. With back more than any other part you have to get a full contraction. Don’t use weight so heavy that you can’t get your elbows as far behind you as they will go. You want to hold it for a second or so. You want to be able to feel the entire muscle group as you are doing the movement. Each back movement is important to strengthening your entire body your core and stabilization. This is the main reason why learning the back muscle anatomy is beneficial.

Back Muscle Anatomy

Latissimus dorsi

As the largest muscle group in the back, the lats serve an array of functions. They extend, adduct, medially rotate the humerus, and raise the body upward during movements like chin-ups.


Your traps connect the upper extremities of the vertebral column. It runs from the base of the skull, out over the scapula, and down the cervical spine. The traps elevate, retract, and rotate the scapula during exercises like shrugs, side lateral raises, and rows.


The rhomboids act to retract the scapula and rotate it to depress the glenoid cavity. The rhomboids also affix the scapula to the thoracic wall.

Erector spinae

The erectors are a bundle of muscles and tendons that run vertically in the grooves on the side of the vertebral column. They extend and laterally flex the spine.

Teres major, teres minor, and infraspinatus

These are smaller muscles located near the humeral head. They’re used to adduct and medially and laterally rotate the arm.

Other important muscles include the serratus anterior, deltoids, subscapularis, abdominal obliques, and the gluteus maximus.

Back Breakdown

Many articles on back training are geared toward people looking to rival Dorian Yates. While that’s an admirable goal, the importance of building a strong back extends beyond bodybuilder aesthetics. The muscles in your back serve many functions in everyday movements, from maintaining good posture to carrying heavy objects around your home. Training your back properly will also help reduce back pain, improve overall strength, and help you maintain proper form during your workouts.

The most important aspect of back training is to learn how to activate the major back muscles and use them appropriately during all lifts. Back muscle anatomy is the best way to learn how your body works on the inside so that you can execute your workouts the best. In contrast, untrained lifters can sometimes over-utilize the erector spinae and under-utilize their lats, traps, and rhomboids.

Best Back Strengthening Exercises

Choosing the correct weight is critical; in your strength workouts, make sure you pick a heavy weight that causes you to reach muscle failure on only your last set for each exercise at the target rep. Although you’ll take longer rest periods, you’ll move through your size-gaining workouts faster using relatively lighter weights for higher reps, with drop sets and supersets thrown in to increase the intensity.

Sample workout

  1. Pull Up
  2. Barbell Deadlift
  3. T-Bar Row
  4. Seated Cable Row
  5. Front Pulldown
  6. Dumbbell Rows
  7. Machine Crunches

Try this workout with 12 reps and 3 sets for each exercise! This will help you put on size and strength to your back!! Keep rest periods in between sets at about 1 minute long. This helps to keep a pace up throughout your workout.

Why workout your back?

Everyone loves blasting the life out of their abs and pecs. But the backside needs equal love, too — and we’re not just talking about them booty gains. You CAN’T neglect your back. Not only does a well-developed, V-shaped back project Bane-like strength and radiate aesthetics, but it’s also critical for maintaining strong posture, muscular balance, and a compact core. Overworked, dominant pecs, abs, and front delts (the front part of your shoulders) cause the body to hunch forward, which often produces slouched, “gorilla” posture.

Plus, back strengthening is functional. The next time you’re rowing a kayak, climbing an oak tree, picking up your grandma’s couch, or dangling from a fire escape, well, you’ll thank me. Powerful pecs aren’t quite as useful.

2nd sample workout

  1. Pull-ups superset with Pullovers
  2. Lat Pulldowns
  3. T-Bar Rows
  4. Close Grip Seated Rows
  5. Back Extensions

Do This workout at 12 reps for 3 sets each! This will provide the strength you need to build an amazing back to show off!

Lower Back Exercises

Lumbar stabilization is an active form of exercise used in physical therapy. It is designed to strengthen muscles to support the spine and help prevent lower back pain. Through a regimen of exercises, and with the initial help of an experienced physical therapist, the patient is trained to find and maintain her/his “neutral spine” position. The back muscles are then exercised to teach the spine how to stay in this position.

One of the easiest body parts to injure is most certainly the lower lumbar (lower back). The word lumbar is derived from the latin word lumbus meaning lion, which is fitting since many guys get injured while trying to unleash their inner jungle cat – allowing their egos to push more weight than their bodies can handle. Throw in a dose of bad form and you’ve got the perfect storm for a weightlifting related injury.

To significantly lessen your chances of doing severe damage to your body, while increasing strength and your lower back, consider incorporating these isolation exercises into your workouts:


Deadlifting will strengthen the entire back and its surrounding muscles, making this lift great for rehabilitative, and preventative, purposes. In fact, the deadlift is the most effective exercise for building the core strength that supports all other major muscle groups.

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, and the deadlift is the key core strength building movement.


Hyperextensions strengthen and build the lower back (erector spinae). A strong lower back is essential in stabilizing the torso and in preventing lower back injuries. Complete hyperextension exercises after your deadlifts for complete exhaustion of the lower back muscles.

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