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6 Tips For Building A Strong Back

by Evelyn Valdez

If you want to drive serious results and start building back muscles, you need commitment, a good diet, an understanding of how to train your back, and knowing the best back exercises to prioritize. 

Your back is a huuuuge muscle group, so you need a workout routine that will help you target every single muscle effectively. Besides implementing the best back exercises, here are tips that will help guide you to building a strong back...

Use lifting belt and lifting straps on heavy sets

Heavy barbell deadlifts and rows are the compound movements that are the key to building back strength, but as you make progress, the heavier the barbell will get. This can place a huge strain on your back and your forearms. Using lifting gear like lifting straps and a weight lifting belt can help reduce your grip fatigue and support your spine so you can pull heavier weights safely.

Lifting straps, also known as wrist straps, are designed to help you maintain a better grip on heavy sets of pulling exercises. Aside from reducing grip fatigue, they allow you to lift heavier for longer, reduce your risk of injury, and allow the targeted muscle group (your back) to be fully exhausted since your grip won't give in! We have an entire Lifting Strap Guide which goes into more details on what they are and how to use them - plus, it includes a closer look at our Lifting Strap Collection.

Lifting belts work by going around your waist to provide your spine support by increasing intra-abdominal pressure. When your spine is stabilized it prevents your back from hyperextending, twisting, or bending. This will help improve your form, and allow you to lift heavier with minimal back strain or pain. In case you haven't heard, UPPPER Lifting Belts are a customer favorite due to their maximal support, security, comfort... and style!

Don't neglect pull-ups

Pull-downs, like lat pulldowns, are great exercises and should be a part of your workout, but don't neglect pull-ups! It's a simple, yet challenging body weight exercise that is one of the best at building full upper body strength. It primarily targets the latissimus dorsi (lats), biceps, and also recruits your deltoids, rhomboids, and core. Unlike pull-downs, pull-ups force you to stabilize your body and maintain control because there is no fixed path of travel.

This exercise is challenging, but not impossible. In fact, learning how to do a pull-up with proper form isn't all that difficult! You just have to train your way up to it. Start by building strength in your back by doing several weighted back exercises, especially rows. Once you build some strength, move to exercises like inverted rows, assisted pull-ups, and negative pull-ups! Doing all of this will help you to build muscle on your back, but remember, it requires time and patience.

Include multiple movement planes and grips

You have an upper, middle, and lower back so you want to make sure that you're hitting all the muscles within those groups. Many people tend to focus too much on the lats, and neglect other important muscles like the trapezius, rhomboids, rear delts (technically a shoulder muscle), the teres major and minor, and the erector spinae. 

To avoid missing any important muscles, make sure you're doing exercises that move at a horizontal and vertical plane. So, include a variety of rowing and pull-down exercises. Rowing movements help build the mid-back, while pull-downs emphasize the lat width.

You also want to change up your grip to change up the way an exercise targets your back. Avoid falling back on the grip you're used to, changing up the grip width and type will add some new variety to your routine while emphasizing the weaker muscles you're trying to target.

Here's a breakdown of different grips:

  • Overhand Grip: Emphasizes the upper lat fibers.
  • Underhand Grip: Keeps your elbows tight to your sides to recruit the lower lats.
  • Narrow Grip: For rows use a narrow grip bring the weight towards your belly button to zone in on the lower lats.
  • Wide Grip: For rows use a wide grip to bring the bar up to your chest to help hit the upper lats
  • Reverse Grip: Using a reverse-grip for bent-over rows and pull-downs will engage your biceps more.

Knowing these little tweaks will help you train smarter and help strengthen weaker muscles!

Don't forget to squeeze

During each repetition of your back exercises, emphasize squeezing the target muscles at the peak of the movement. This focused contraction boosts muscle engagement and fosters better muscle development over time.

To do it, simply hold the contracted position for one second at the peak of the movement. If you don’t feel your back muscles working, reassess and improve your form.

Whether you're performing lat pulldowns or dumbbell rows, incorporating the squeeze technique is a straightforward yet powerful way to build a stronger back.

Work one side at a time

When it comes to building muscle, bilateral training is usually the main focus. But there are benefits to isolating one side of your body, as opposed to having it work as a unit! Unilateral training will help fix muscle imbalances, improve overall strength, and help reduce your risk of injury. So, if you have one side that is weaker and needs to catch up, prioritize unilateral exercises!

Start by doing two unilateral back exercises per workout, one single row exercise, and one single pull exercise. For example, start your back day with single-arm bent-over dumbbell rows followed by single-arm cable pulldowns.

Aim to go through the full range of motion

This one applies to all exercises, always try to go through the full range of motion. Partial reps have their time and place, but your main priority should always be to go through the entire movement.

With back training, you want to pull the weight all the way to the top of the movement to contract the muscles, and move it back all the way down to feel the stretch in the area. Make each rep as effective as possible, and move through the exercise slowly so you can concentrate on using your back to pull the weight.

Building a stronger back requires commitment and an effective training routine. Incorporate these tips, including the use of UPPPER Lifting Straps and Lifting Belts, to enhance your workouts and achieve your back strength goals. Remember, a well-rounded approach that targets all muscles, emphasizes proper form, and includes supportive gear will lead to optimal results. With dedication and the right tools, you'll be well on your way to a powerful, resilient back.

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