My Top 5 Back Exercises

Back training can be challenging simply because we cannot see these muscles. My number one cue to help clients and individuals get more out of their back training is to have intentionally reps. On each ‘pulling’ repetition the muscles will contract more if you think about squeezing hard at the top (at the end of concentric portion of the lift). Throughout my back workout, I am thinking of all the angles and directions I can perform an exercise in. For the back, think vertical and horizontal pulling motions. In the remainder of the article I will list the five back exercises that are always in my back training in some fashion.


(No specific order here...)


  1. Pulldowns- Seated Lat Pulldowns are great for overloading your lats. If you are not proficient in bodyweight pull-ups yet, this is a great exercises to start with. If you can do pull-ups, add these in after to increase your pullup and overall back strength/hypertrophy.

  2. Bodyweight Pull-ups- At my strongest (lighter bodyweight to mention) I could rep out about 17-18 bodyweight pull-ups, 20 was always tough for me. I always perform a minimum of 3-4 sets of bodyweight pull-ups during my back workouts. I add in lower rep, weighted pull-ups too. If you can do pull-ups, make sure you’re doing them every back workout with varying grips (underhand, wide grip, neutral hand grip)

  3. Low Back Extensions- I will perform bodyweight low back extensions 2-3 sets for 20-30 reps at the beginning of almost every workout regardless of what I am doing for the day. Very pivotal in strengthening the correct muscles to help prevent everyday low back soreness. If you want to increase muscle and strength in the low back start adding in 45lb plates into your working sets. Somedays I will add 2-4 (45lb) plates and perform sets of 4-8 reps

  4. Farmer’s Carry- A great general physical preparedness exercises that will translate over and assist your squat, bench, and deadlift. Reinforcing a strong upper back, squeeze the shoulder blades down + back and walk for 50-100 meters for your sets

  5. 1 Arm DB Row- One of the staples for back training in any gym. It is a unilateral movement that requires the entire body to brace while focusing on one side of the back. Learn to brace effectively here and you’ll train your core too. Push yourself to go heavier on 1 arm DB rows and reap the benefits!

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