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Not Engaging Your Back? Don’t Expect Muscle Growth

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For the fitness enthusiast, prioritizing back training is often overshadowed by the allure of chest and arm workouts. However, investing time in strengthening your pulling muscles, collectively known as the posterior chain, is fundamental for overall athletic performance and injury prevention. What’s more, a big back is worth its weight in gold both for looking big and for optimum health as you age. 

The term “posterior chain” encompasses the muscles located on the back side of your body, which play a crucial role in various athletic movements, from powerful swings to heavy deadlifts. While traditional posterior-chain training focused on the lower body, recent attention has shifted towards the upper-body muscles, particularly the latissimus dorsi and other back muscles.

Your latissimus dorsi, situated on the sides of your torso, are responsible for pulling your upper arms towards your body, a movement essential for a safe and effective bench press. Additionally, the rear deltoids and rotator cuff muscles provide stability to your shoulders and shoulder blades, contributing to improved posture and resilience.

Incorporating Your Back Into Your Workout 

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Incorporating exercises targeting these muscles not only enhances athletic performance but also results in the coveted “V taper” physique. However, training the back poses a unique challenge as these muscles are not easily visible. Unlike biceps or chest muscles, which can be easily flexed in front of a mirror, the back muscles require more deliberate engagement.

To overcome this challenge, focus on performing compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Avoid partial repetitions and ensure full range of motion to effectively target the back muscles. Here are some must-do back exercises to incorporate into your routine:

Narrow-Grip Lat Pulldown

  • How to do it: Sit at a lat pulldown machine with your hands closer together and palms facing towards you. Pull the bar down towards your chest, ensuring a greater stretch on the lats.
  • Reps & Sets: Aim for 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.

Chest-Supported Machine Row

  • How to do it: Position yourself on a chest-supported row machine, gripping the handles and rowing the load towards your torso. Focus on spreading your shoulder blades and stretching your back muscles.
  • Reps & Sets: Target 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.

Rear-Delt Pull Around

  • How to do it: Stand beside a pulley set above shoulder height, grab the pulley with one hand, and pull the cable outward and away from your body. This targets the rear deltoids.
  • Reps & Sets: Perform 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps per side.

Ultimate Cheat Code: Prioritize Rows

Rowing exercises, such as dumbbell rows and chest-supported rows, are crucial for back development. Aim to include at least 6 sets of rowing exercises in your weekly routine to effectively target the rhomboids, lats, and other back muscles.

Ensure full range of motion during rows and pull-ups by allowing your shoulders to fully stretch away from your torso. This maximizes muscle tension and stimulates growth effectively.

By incorporating these exercises and focusing on proper form, you can develop a strong and resilient back, essential for overall fitness and performance.

What do you do to train your back? How do you cue your body? Leave your recommendations in the comments below. 

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