build back muscles

5 Workouts To Build Back Muscle

Written By : Dr Andrew Kan   ✓ Fact Checked

Discover 5 essential back workouts for strength and posture: Deadlifts, Pull-Ups, Bent-Over Rows, Lat Pulldowns, and Dumbbell Rows. Build muscle, prevent injuries.

(Last Updated on April 22, 2024)

Building a strong back is not just about aesthetics; it’s crucial for functional strength and maintaining a healthy posture. A well-developed back can also protect you from injuries. Here are five effective back workouts that can help you build muscle effectively.


Deadlifts are a fundamental exercise that targets the entire back. They are particularly effective for the lower back but also engage the traps, lats, and the muscles of the posterior chain, including your hamstrings.

  • To do a deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart with a barbell in front of your shins.
  • Bend at your hips and knees, and hold the rod with an overhand grip, hands just outside your legs.
  • Keep your back straight and core engaged as you stand with the barbell, driving through your heels and bringing your hips forward. The power should come from your legs and back as you lift.

Deadlifts are not just about lifting heavy; proper form is key. Keep the bar close to your body your back straight, and avoid rounding your spine to prevent injury.


Pull-ups are a classic back workout that effectively targets the upper back muscles. They are excellent for developing the lats and traps and involve the biceps and forearms.

  • First, hang from a pull-up bar with your hands wider than shoulder-width and palms facing you.
  • Engage your core and pull yourself towards the bar until your chin is over the bar. Focus on using your back muscles rather than just your arms to pull up.
  • Lower yourself back down with control, fully extending your arms before starting the next rep.

If you find pull-ups challenging, start with assisted pull-ups using a machine or resistance bands until you build enough strength to perform them unassisted.

Bent-Over Rows

Bent-over rows are a versatile exercise that works the middle and upper back. They balance the pull-up’s vertical pulling motion with a horizontal pull, targeting the rhomboids and lats.

  • Hold a barbell with an overhand grip, hands about shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hinge at the waist, keeping your back flat.
  • Pull the barbell towards your lower chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the movement’s top.
  • Lower the barbell back down with control, fully extending your arms and stretching your back muscles before the next rep.

It’s important to keep your back straight throughout the exercise to avoid strain and to ensure that the back muscles are doing the work.

Lat Pulldowns

Lat pulldowns are a focused way to target the latissimus dorsi, the broadest muscles of the back, which are essential for a V-shaped torso.

  • Sit at a lat pulldown station and secure your knees under the pads. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull the bar towards your chest, drawing your elbows down and back. Concentrate on using your back muscles to move the weight rather than your arms.
  • Slowly let the bar rise back up to the starting position, feeling a stretch in your lats as you reach the top.

This exercise can be varied with different grips and hand positions to target different parts of the back.

Dumbbell Single-Arm Row

The dumbbell single-arm row allows for a unilateral workout, which can help correct imbalances by focusing on one side of the back at a time.

  • Place one knee on a bench and the other foot on the floor. Lean forward so your back is flat and parallel to the ground, and hold a dumbbell in one hand.
  • Row the dumbbell towards your hip, keeping your elbow close to your body and squeezing your back muscles at the top of the movement.
  • Lower the dumbbell slowly, allowing your back muscles to fully stretch before starting the next rep.

Legion Athletics states,

“The dumbbell pullover trains your lats through a full range of motion and in a stretched position, which is important for muscle growth.”

Performing this exercise with proper form ensures that each side of your back is worked equally, promoting balanced muscle development.

Remember to listen to your body and give your muscles time to rest and recover between workouts for the best results.

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