What back exercises are good for beginners?

Eric Olsen

Here is a good upper-back exercise for beginners: Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, put your left knee on the bench and lean forward on your left hand so your back is roughly parallel with the floor. Let the weight in your right hand hang down toward the floor. Then, slowly pull the weight up as close to your chest as you can, keeping your back level with the floor. Don't arch your back. Lower the weight slowly and repeat 10 to 15 times. Switch hands and repeat. In the gym, look for the "cable row" machine for a similar exercise.

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Chris Embry

Because your back is such a large portion of your body and contains multiple muscle groups, it is best to have a selection of pulling exercises that work all areas. These exercises would include:

1. Vertical Pulls - Vertical pulls involving starting with your arms above your head and pulling yourself up or pulling a weight down to your chest. Exercise selection includes pull-ups and pull-downs. Pull-ups are a great back exercise, but can be hard for a beginner to get start. Assisted pull-ups are a good way to build strength until you are able to do them on your own. If you have a partner, they can hold your feet and you can push with them as you pull with your back. Lat Pull-downs using a cable or band are also a good way to build your strength. Vertical pulls can build back width and give the V-taper look like makes your waist look smaller.

2. Horizontal Pulls - Horizontal Pulls start with your arms perpendicular to your body and pulling the weight towards your chest. Exercise selection would barbell rows, dumbbells rows, and seated cable rows. Horizontal pulls can thicken your back.

3. Lower Back - When working your back, it is important to include a lower back exercise. This is an important part of your core and helps stabilize you during a majority of your other exercises. A good lower back exercise would be hyperextensions. Hyperextensions can be done on equipment designed for them or a stability ball at home.

Including exercises from all three groups will ensure overall back development. A strong back not only can help you doing your day to day activities but also looks great.

One of the best back exercises for a beginner is simply doing a back row:

  • Back row – Grab a set of weight in which you are comfortable using, 5-10 pounds would be great! Hold onto the weight and roll your shoulders down and back keeping your chest tall. Now bend forward using both your hips and knees, keeping your back flat!  Bend just before being parallel with the ground or less if that range is too deep, and row the weights along the sides of your body. You will row up as if you are about to elbow someone. Be sure your shoulders stay relaxed!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.