What are the best back building/shaping exercises?
Dara: When it comes to back exercises I really like pull ups and barbell rows. You can vary the grip to hit every angle of your back and doing barbell rows can help you increase your strength until you are able to do full pull ups. I also like working in cable rows, especially when doing drop sets because it’s much easier and quicker to drop the weight on a machine than to have to unload a barbell.
Matt: I’m with Dara with pull ups and barbell rows being the foundation of a back building routine. Dumbbell rows are a nice addition as well as you can focus on each side more intensely and work on any muscle imbalances between your right and left side as well as being able to bring the dumbbell further back as you aren’t limited in your range of motion by the bar in a barbell row.
I also really like the Hammer machines for back work as well as any pull down and cable variations I feel like throwing in on any given day. The back is a large and somewhat complex muscle group and the more variety and volume you can stress the muscle with the better your results will be.
Dara: Good point about working unilaterally with dumbbells. It’s always important to have both bilateral and unilateral work to prevent and treat imbalances!
Matt: We all have a dominant side and sometimes it is the opposite of what ‘hand’ we are. Anything to try and keep our body in balance offers a great advantage to our current physical state and going forward as well. Any weakness/imbalance is going to prevent progress at some point.
Colin: Well, as much as I’d like to disagree to add a little something to the conversation I’m in complete agreement. Bent-over rows and pullups are the staples to building a great back. I will add I believe the seated row does not get enough credit though. As I mentioned in my Muscle Activity From Pulldowns And Pull Ups the seated row actually activates the lats better than the lat pulldown and it also recruits the middle-trapezious and rhomboids well. Of course variety is the spice of life, so adding dumbbell rows, rack chins, and other moves is a good idea.
Round 1: The best fat loss method
Round 2: Fasted vs fed cardio for fat loss
Round 5: The best 3 exercises
Round 6: The ideal training program
Round 7: How much protein for fat loss
Round 8: The last 10 pounds
Round 9: The ultimate training split
Round 10: Do carbs or fats make you fat?
Round 15: Are cheat meals good or bad?
Round 16: The fastest way to get six pack abs?
Round 17: The most effective exercise sequence
Round 18: Is cardio necessary?
Round 19: IIFYM vs clean eating
Round 20: Newbie mistakes and advice
Round 21: The most important muscle
Round 22: Is core training necessary?
Round 24: Good and bad fitness trends
Round 25: The best arm building exercises
Round 26: The best chest building exercises
Round 27: The best shoulder building exercises
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