4 exercises to work out the back

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To get the so-coveted V-shaped torso and a more voluptuous chest, you’re going to have to emphasize your back workout, without giving up your legs, chest and shoulder workout, because the idea is to find balance and obtain a good body-symmetry.

READ ALSO: How to prevent muscle imbalance?

The job of the back muscles is to protect the spine, central element of the human body. Maybe it’s the easiest body part to work out adequately because on the one hand you have to use a load that’s easy to lift and on the other hand you’ve got to consider using one that’s not too heavy, because you should ensure the control of the whole up/down movement.
You should do a good exercise combination so that your body development occurs harmoniously.

In addition to the big muscle groups like the trapezius (responsible for giving the back a voluptuous look), the latissimus dorsi (responsible for the V-shape) and the erector muscles, the back is also composed by little muscle groups, like the major and minor teres, the major and minor rhomboids (flat muscles that you can find under the trapezius, between the scapula and the spine), the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, the scapula, among others.

Don’t forget that you should always work the back muscles as a whole, giving emphasis to the muscle groups of the upper/medial and inferior part. After the legs, the back is the strongest part of the body.

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Examples of efficient exercises for the Teres Major

With machines

Exercises like pulldowns are the ones the cause the biggest activation of the torso’s dorsal and lateral muscles. Keeping the body slightly inclined towards the back may help activate the great dorsal area, increasing the exercise’s efficacy by 11%.

1. Wide Grip Crossover pulldown, with the back slightly inclined.

How to perform?

Contract the dorsal muscles to start the movement, pull the bar in a fluid movement until you have it a few centimeters from your chest. In a contracted position, pull the elbows to the back as much as you can. Get back to the initial position. Keep your body straight while performing the exercises.

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2. Inclined barbell row

How to perform?

Slightly bend your knees and incline your body towards the bar, while keeping your back straight. Hold the bar shoulder-width. Pull the bar towards the upper part of the abdomen and then lower it until your arms are fully extended and the shoulders completely stretched. Repeat the movement. This exercise works different muscles: the major dorsal, the trapezius, the rhomboid muscle, major and minor teres, the brachialis, the scapula, the infraspinatus, etc.

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With bodyweight

Wide grip front raises are one of the best exercises to increase shoulder and back width. This should be the first exercise of your workout. If you perform it after having done exercises like pulldowns and rowing exercises, your arms will be too tired to perform many reps and this exercise loses its efficacy.

1. Wide grip front raise

How to perform?

Hang on to the bar with your arms slightly apart from your shoulders. With a little bit of a back curvature, pull your body towards the bar and get back to the initial position after that. To make sure you’re performing a complete movement, you should be able to touch the chest with the bar. This exercise also works the inferior trapezius, the teres major, the rhomboids, among others.

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Example of exercises for the trapezius and the rhomboids

1. Dumbbell Shrugs

You should always do this exercise in the end of the workout. If you do it in the beginning, you may be compromising your performance in strength movements.

How to perform?

Grab two heavy barbells and, while comfortably standing with your feet shoulder-width, hold the barbells on the sides of your body and let them stretch your muscles as long as you feel comfortable. Slowly drop them ‘till you get them near your thighs. Raise your shoulders towards your ears and keep the position for two seconds before lowering the barbells.

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Notes:

– The load you’ll use varies accordingly to your level of preparation and it should be altered as you make progress, just like what happens with your diet and supplementation.
– The regular stretching of the dorsal muscles increases flexibility and width in a quick way.

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References:

Alex Stewart, 5 back For Mass – A Beginner’s Guide, 14th of September 2009, translation and adaptation of the original version
Fernando Ribeiro, Arnold Schwarzenegger – treino completo de costas, 9th of August 2013, translation and adaptation of the original version

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