The Top 5 Best Back Exercises

Arnold T-bar RowNothing is more impressive than being able to bang out 30 pull ups in a row or finishing a set of 10 with 90 lbs hanging from a belt. Nothing LOOKS more impressive than being able to hit an impressive front or rear lat spread with confidence. Furthermore, how many women do you know who can finish a set of 10 pull ups? Trust me, there aren’t many.

The reality is that we can accomplish all of these things with intense free weight back training.

Your back muscles comprise the second largest set of muscles, after the legs. Therefore, putting some serious effort into training your back will pay off huge dividends whether you are looking to burn a large number of calories, better fill out your shirts, condition your body for functional strength, or even to fix your posture from focusing too long on chest training.

Strong back muscles will allow you to:

  • Pick up anything heavy off the floor or ground, working in unison with the legs.
  • Burn nearly as many calories as you would when training legs.
  • Move your body more easily through space, specifically when pulling yourself up.
  • Protect yourself from muscle imbalances that occur from overtraining the chest.
  • Row a boat faster than any of your punk friends.

Anatomy of the Back

For this discussion we are going to focus on the mid to upper back only. I won’t be talking at all about the lower back or glutes, as this is a discussion in and of its own. You can find out a bit more about lower back and glute training in the post about the top 5 best hamstring exercises. I will focus more on lower back in a separate article at a later date.

There are two main muscle groups that are visible even when our shirts are on. These are called the latissimus dorsi and the trapezius.

The latissimus, or lats, are the muscles that run from the armpits to the waist. This is what you see when people flex their backs as with a lat spread bodybuilding pose.

The trapezius, or traps, are the muscles that start in a point at the base of the skull, sit to either side of the neck, above the shoulders, and extend in a diamond shape to a point in the middle of the back. A muscle called the levator scapulae works in conjunction with the traps and lats.

Trap are what cause some big dudes to appear to have no neck. This is also how you can tell if someone is really serious about their training. Typically if someone has completely flat traps it means that they probably do not engage in significant free weight complex exercises like deadlifts, bent over barbell rows, cleans, and definitely not barbell shrugs.

The Smaller Muscles of the Back

Some of the smaller back muscles include teres major, teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and rhomboideus (rhomboids). These are considered secondary muscles and are sufficiently stimulated when you train the larger latissimus dorsi with both vertical and horizontal movements.

The serratus is another back muscle that wraps around the body and it also visible from the font. If you desire to train the serratus directly, which many people do, the best exercise for that is probably dumbbell or barbell pull overs. In the past when I trained 4 days a week I often included pull overs on back day.

Back Anatomy
Back Anatomy

Functions of the Back

Contrary to what you might think when you picture a row, the function of the lats is to pull the arm down toward the pelvis. When the arm is in a fixed position such as with a pull up, the lats serve to bring the body up towards the arm. The function is the same, but the motion depends upon the position of the arms and torso.

Lats also function to stabilize the torso during many movements, including the flat bench press and overhead press.

Your traps function to facilitate scapular elevation (shrugging), scapular adduction (rowing) and scapular depression (pull downs). Often they work in conjunction with the lats and the other small muscles, especially when rowing or pulling down.

Top 5 Best Back Exercises

Update: Deadlifts

Because I have received so many comments ripping me for not including deadlifts on this list, let the record show that I did indeed mention deadlifts right here at the top of the list, but decided not to include them in the list because they are already in the top 5 best hamstring exercises.

Deadlifts are probably the 3rd best back exercise after barbell rows and pull ups, so include them in your back workout as you see fit. Similarly, you could include good mornings in this list. To reduce the angst of hardcore weightlifters, I have revised this list to include deadlifts as the #5 best back exercise.

My original comments regarding deadlifts are as follows:

Of course deadlifts are part of this list, but I intend to target exercises that train the upper and mid back directly. For more information on deadlifts and other lower back exercises, see my post about the 5 best exercises for hamstrings.

  1. Barbell Bent Over Rows – Horizontal training
    Bent over rows with a barbell is arguably the most important back exercise you can do for pulling strength and thickness in the upper body. This is a compound movement that works everything from traps to lats to lower back and hamstrings. Using proper form, bent over barbell rows will help you stand apart with thickness and strength, from the people who only do pull ups, chin ups, or (God forbid) pull downs.

    To set up: you should start by standing on a box or platform with the loaded barbell. This is necessary to avoid the plates hitting the floor when you use 45 lb plates. Your stance should be shoulder width for conventional barbell rows. Now, keeping your knees slightly bent, your head up, and your back straight, bend over until your upper body is lower than 45 degrees to the floor. My goal is always to get as close to parallel with the floor as possible.

    The weight should be hanging straight down from your arms at this point, directly below your chest. You should have a pronated grip on the bar; your palms should be facing towards you. Feel free to use a bit of chalk if you are rowing really heavy. NO STRAPS!

    To row:
    to start a row, use your back muscles to pull the bar straight up to touch your chest. The elbows should be tucked in, head up, back straight, and you should NOT bounce. Lower the weight under control and repeat.

    Variations:
    close grip, wide grip, medium grip, two arm dumbbell rows, supinated rows (palms facing away).

    There is also a machine called the T-Bar that can be used for rowing. Old school lifters might even put one end of an Olympic bar in the corner of a room, and use the other end as a T-bar and a neutral grip cable attachment as the handle.

    The following is the best video that I could find on YouTube for a demonstration of barbell bent over rows by someone who doesn’t look like a complete puss, although I don’t advocate putting the bar on the floor between reps:

    YouTube Preview Image

    UPDATE: Since writing this article I have embraced barbell rows with a pause on the floor. I don’t recommend either variation over the other, but I do recommend trying them both. As with all exercises, you should probably use the variation that you hate most, but I don’t fault anyone for using the variation that they like most.

    You should also watch this video just for fun: Bent Over Rows by Chrissy Zmijewski. She has some good points, but I believe in going deeper than 45 degrees with the upper body.

  2. Pull Ups and Chin Ups – Vertical training
    Pull ups and chin ups are a true measure of strength. They are one of those exercises that can be used to gauge a person’s physical strength relative to their body weight. For example a powerlifter might be able to bench press 600 lbs at a body weight of 280 lbs, but maybe he can only do 4 pull ups. Meanwhile a 175 lb guy can only bench 315, but he can bust out about 30 pull ups.

    So let me ask you, who is really stronger? Better yet, which person’s strength would you wish to have? Sorry, but I’d rather be the smaller guy.

    To set up: stand on a box or a platform if you need to, or just jump up, so you can reach the bar. Pull ups are typically harder than chin ups, but I recommend you switch off between the two. Pull ups use a pronated grip (palms down, or in this case palms facing away), while chin ups use a supinated grip (palms up). Hands should be just wider than shoulder width for a medium grip pull up, or just inside shoulder width for a medium grip chin up.

    To pull up:
    the goal is to pull yourself up until your chin is over the bar. Keep your head up, possibly looking at the ceiling, and get that chin over the bar, pause just long enough to get a full contraction. Lower yourself back down so that your arms are about 99% straight, don’t bounce.

    If you can’t do a pull up, most gyms have assisted pull up machines. Start there and work your weight towards your first bodyweight pull up.

    If you can do more than 10 pulls up with bodyweight, it might be time to consider weighted pull ups and weighted chin ups. You can do this by hanging a dumbbell between your legs or ankles, or by using a belt with a chain to suspend the weight between your legs.

    Variations: wide grip, medium grip, narrow grip, neutral grip (palms facing each other), pull ups, chin ups, towel pull ups to blast your grip and finger strength. Many people do lat pull downs on machines or with cables, but I’m telling you not to. Stick with free weights!

    YouTube Preview Image

    Here is our friend Scott Herman to show us how to do an interesting variation – tennis ball pull ups.

    YouTube Preview Image
  3. Barbell Shrugs – Upper back
    Shrugs are specifically a traps only exercise. The lats don’t come into play at all. You can go pretty heavy on shrugs. I built a decent set of traps back in the day by working up to 10-12 reps with between 495 and 585 lbs on a standard Olympic bar.

    To set up: unless you feel like deadlifting the weight off the floor, your best bet is to unrack the bar at thigh height from a platform, squat rack, power rack, or whatever else you can use. This is one of maybe 2 exercises for which I condone using straps. You want to avoid using an alternating grip if possible, and sometimes using chalk just doesn’t cut it if you are using heavier weight than you typically deadlift.

    To shrug: take a pronated grip on the bar just outside your hips and unrack the weight so that it hangs to mid thigh. Always stand straight with your head up, and knees just barely bent. Try to touch your shoulders to your ears by shrugging straight up, as high as you can. Hold for half a second to really get that contraction. Lower the weight under control back to mid thigh.

    Variations: dumbbell shrugs are good too, but you can’t use as much weight.

    Here is a really controlled version of the wide grip barbell shrug. It’s good stuff.

    YouTube Preview Image
  4. One Arm Dumbbell Rows – Horizontal training
    This is a great way for you to isolate each side of your back in turn. While you can’t go as heavy as barbell rows, you can still go pretty heavy and you can get a fuller contraction with a greater range of motion because the barbell does not restrict your scapula from fully retracting on each rep.

    To set up: grab a dumbbell and place it beside a bench. Now kneel with one leg on one end of the bench and place your hand on the other end for support. At this point your upper body should be parallel to the floor, and your free leg should be planted just behind you and to the side of your body for support.

    To row: grab the dumbbell with a neutral grip (palm facing your body), arm fully extended and lift the dumbbell off the floor. From this point you want to row the weight up and back, pulling your hand in just above your hip, and getting your elbow also up and back as far as possible. Experiment with wrist angles to make this exercise harder, easier, or more comfortable for you.

    Variations: you can use a machine or a cable exercise for this, but I highly recommend you stick with free weights.

    YouTube Preview Image
  5. Barbell Deadlifts

    Deadlifts belong in this list as well as in the top 5 best hamstring exercises, so here it is:

    Deadlifts are one of the primary, fundamental exercises for all serious weight training programs. Deadlifts work 100% of your legs and they require functional stability from 95% of the rest of the muscles on your body. Using proper form, deadlifts will help you get stronger, gain more muscle, and burn more calories than any other single exercise after the squat.

    To set up: the barbell rests on the floor, sitting just above the ankles right in front of the shins. Your stance should be shoulder width for conventional deadlifts. Bending your knees, reach down and grab the bar so that your knees are actually inside your elbows. When going heavy, it helps to alternate your grip where one hand is pronated (palm facing you) and the other hand is supinated (palm facing away).

    To deadlift: to start a deadlift, use your whole body to begin to lift the bar off the floor. Arms should be straight, knees should be bent. The object is to lift the weight with your legs, glutes, and hips, rather than with your lower back. In fact your lower back should not bend that much, should in fact be pretty straight, and should definitely NOT be rounded. You accomplish this by keeping your head up and by driving with your hips. It is of utmost importance to keep the bar close to your body during the lift.

    At the top you should stand up straight, but do not over extend your lower back as if you were doing some kind of hyper-extension. The driving force at the top should be more of a hip thrust than a lower back spasm. Lower the bar under control, keeping it close to your body.

    Variations: close stance deads, wide stance deads, sumo style deads, deads off a box, rack pulls or pin pulls, deads or rack pulls with chains or bands.

    YouTube Preview Image

Honorable mentions: pull overs, cleans, snatches, and…

Dumbbell Reverse Flyes

This exercise used to be listed at the #5 best back exercise, but I really couldn’t live with myself for including it in that list. Therefore, read this section while keeping in mind that dumbbell reverse flyes are probably somewhere in the top 10 best back exercises, but it is not top 5.

OK, you might be thinking this exercise is foo-foo, but it really works the smaller muscles in your upper back, including your rear delts. I guess I wouldn’t really recommend this as a staple exercise for powerlifters or other strength athletes, but it is mandatory for bodybuilders. This will really help to separate the muscles in the back, and will build the rear delts, which are typically very hard to cultivate.

To set up: standing or sitting, grab some dumbbells, bend over so that your upper body is parallel to the floor. Allow the weights to hang at your sides, arms fully extended.

To reverse fly: keeping your back flat and straight, raise the weight vertically until your hands are at their highest possible position. Hold for half a second to contract. Lower the weight under control, but stop a couple inches short of where you started. The goal is not to pause at the bottom of the movement for rest. Tension should be kept on the muscles at all times.

Variations: because this is not a compound exercise, reverse flies on any number of machines or cables are usually an acceptable alternative to dumbbells.

Reverse Flyes
Reverse Flyes

To use this exercise list optimally, you will want to choose 1 horizontal movement and 1 vertical movement, to work into each workout. For full body workouts, choose only one exercise each day, but be sure to alternate between horizontal and vertical. However if you are in a back specialization phase you can definitely choose 1 vertical and 1 horizontal movement for each workout to really force your back to adapt.

If you use the outdated method of splitting up your body parts each day, you can choose to split your back into horizontal and vertical training by using 2 horizontal exercises on horizontal back day, and 2 vertical exercises on vertical back day. Often horizontal back is paired with chest and vertical back is paired with legs.

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156 Responses to “The Top 5 Best Back Exercises”

  1. Jason says:

    I see you like “Full body” workouts and I was doing:

    Mon&Thurs-Chest,Tri’s & Shoulders.
    Tues&Sat-Legs, Back & Bi’s.

    My workouts were taking forever and I started experiencing joint pain in my left shoulder. So I switched it up to 1 muscle once a week. My shoulder feels much better now. What gives?

  2. Tim says:

    Ive been looking at the videos not only on the back but on chest and arms, its been very helpful but when i saw the 1st vid on the back i winced at the thought of doing the excersise. In the vid he is bent over and everytime he brings the weight up his back jerks and everytime it looks like it will snap, im studying as a personal trainer and i wouldnt recommend and bent back excersise (dead lifts) to anyone especially not bent over row. IMO the seated row is far better (and safer) as it isolates the arm and back muscles not the arching of the back.

    • Steve says:

      If you are an aspiring personal trainer, you better think twice before you tell your clients not to do bent over rows and deadlifts. I know if I heard you say that out loud, I would probably tell your client that he or she should find someone who knew what they were doing.

      • Bowler says:

        While I agree that eliminating lower back stressors isn’t best for long-term health, I’ve never seen more atrocious form in a vid chosen to teach an exercise. That was _not_ a bb row, it was more like a poorly-executed pull from an invisible power rack. Pathetic.

        • Steve says:

          Eh. The first set was OK considering the weight he was using, but the second set really fell apart. I’ll try to find a better video because I honestly can’t stand people who do bent over barbell rows while practically standing up. Since I’ll be changing out the video, here’s the link to the “offensive” video that everyone is complaining about, of a dude using like 400 and 450 lbs for bent over rows: bent over rows on YouTube.

          • MikeZ says:

            While I agree he is standing up too straight, I used to do 365lb bent over rows for sets and I would be ok with his ‘jerking’ motions. I did it this way too and got huge with no back injuries.

            I mean just look at this guys size and tell me he is doing something wrong.

          • Steve says:

            Looks like a decent heavy bo row to me.

      • Pete says:

        Sorry Tim, I would have to totally agree with Steve, Deadlifts are an essential part of training the back! You should try them with a decent weight and you will feel the benefits. I increased my core strength by 20% My bench went from 220lbs to 262lbs in 1 week of hard out back exercises – Deadlifts and Chin-ups. I only lift light as I don’t want to bulk up too much.

      • Goray says:

        Claiming Bent over barbell rows is the ultimate back exercise to build “muscle mass” will only cause injury sooner or later. It’s an effective exercise to tone the targeted muscles, but you can’t go crazy with this exercise with heavy weight. Going heavy on this will stress lower spine, L4, L5, S1. Seated cable row, where you can go heavier, is a better option to gain mass on the back. I suggest you all consider what I’ve said here, or lower back injury will hit you while swinging in your last heavy set with the barbell. It’s just a matter of time!

        • Steve says:

          That is why form is so important. Also, you say not to go heavy, but if you use proper form you can easily handle the same weight as you use on the bench press.

        • Byrin says:

          If you get injured it’s because you either put far too much weight on the bar or you don’t know what you are doing.

          I’ve been doing this exercise, with heavy deadlifts, squats and every other major compound exercise, for 1.5 years and the only problem I’ve been experiencing is my ever-thickening upper body. :P

          • Me says:

            It’s VERY easy to cheat on barbell bent over rows, because you can conveniently use some momemtun from the hips and just drop the weights if you can’t lift them all the way. That leads – in time – to too big weights, form breakdowns and injuries(1.5 years is nothing).

            Heavy Dumbbell rows are a much better alternative for the lower back and just as effective for the targeted muscles. You can also try it with the leg closer to the bench in the air, which reduces the torgue on the lower back.

            Barbell bent over rows are like doing bench presses with you upper body unsupported, floating in the air from the edge of a bench.

      • pete says:

        i would suggest the pendlay row where the bar starts and ends at floor. this way you reset for each rep and put less stress on lower back. with barbell rows you tend to pull up slightly with the torso thus initiating the movement. i would teach that and db rows, and of course the deadlift……IMO

        • Steve says:

          Great feedback, thanks Pete. It’s important not to use any torso movement when barbell rowing, except maybe if you’re on the last rep… but if you use torso movement, guess what – you can’t count that rep on your workout logs!

  3. Joey says:

    Hi, I really liked your list, but I had one question. Can we use momentum for the bent over rows like the man in the video?

  4. nate says:

    The vid of the guy doing bent over rows looks really wrong. He is lifting way too much and he is bouncing and snapping all over the place, it doesn’t look controlled. His back is also bent and he is taking alot of the weight across his shoulders. I’d look for another video that is more helpful to the beginners reading this page.

  5. Davie says:

    I`ve been going to the gym for years now, but always struggled to work out how many reps I should be doing with each muscle, and at what weight?

  6. Josh says:

    Ok no matter how hard it gets use perfect form. DO NOT USE MOMENTUM! If you use peferct form youll get 100x stronger

  7. Jason says:

    Deadlifts, in my opinion, far and away the greatest overall mass and strength builder for entire back. When I do deads heavy, every square inch of my back gets blasted. I do alot of bb rows and pull ups as well, but neither of them touch what a deadlift can do. Also, I don’t see hang cleans on many lists of building massive back muscles. I think it is because typically the author simply does not do them so they are unaware of just what they do. I can shrug all day long with heavy weight on a bb, and not get a quarter of a trap workout that 4 sets of hang cleans will give me. The whole upper back along with lower back, shoulders, and hams get hammered.

    • Steve says:

      Actually I do plenty of hang cleans and I think they are awesome for building powerful traps. However, I think most people can lift 4 times more weight on barbell shrugs and as we all know, heavier weights = bigger muscles. If you include hang cleans in your list you should also include high pulls, since that is the portion of the hang clean that targets the traps.

  8. tyler says:

    i was curious as to why you say no to straps on bent over rows. also, what do you think abour incorporating t bar rows?

    • Steve says:

      Straps decrease the tension on your forearms. If you ONLY use straps on bent over rows then I guess you’ll be OK, but you have to forgo the straps on at least some of the exercises that put strain on the forearms, or your forearm development will stall (this will also have a negative impact on the biceps). T bar rows are great! Bent over barbell rows are better.

  9. Nathan says:

    Would you recommend working rear deltoids with the rest of your shoulders or during back training?

  10. I really like that this post starts with an introduction to the muscles. This makes the explanation of the exercises better understandable.

  11. Jimmy says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve been going to a gym for while now. I’ve managed to reduce my belly size but my back still remains a problem. I’ll try some of the exercises you’ve mentioned and let you know how it went. I have a lower back pain. Are there any exercises that I should avoid?
    I’ve tried searching for answers and this is all that I got : http://goo.gl/ncez

    Thanks,
    Jimmy

    • Steve says:

      You should probably avoid deadlifts and bent over rows until your back gets better. Very light good mornings with a restricted range of motion could help you rehab it a bit, but don’t hurt yourself more. Do you have an actual injury? Talk to your doctor before doing anything though, I don’t want to get sued.

  12. Serandos says:

    First off let me say Thank You for responding to people who comment on you articles. I hate websites that give you the opportunity to “Send In Your Questions and Comments,” but you never see replies. Second, I really enjoy your website and I find myself coming back here time and time again. I am a fan of the split body workout style and I saw where you said quote “If you use the outdated method of splitting up your body parts each day, you can choose to split your back…” How can I work my body over for strength/tone in 3 days with a full body routine? I am not dogging or anything, I am just an aspiring lifter.

    • Steve says:

      The point of the full body routines is increased intensity and frequency. There are reasons to train with a 5 day split, a 3 day split, a 2 day split, and full body routines. You have to try then all to see what works for you.

  13. Dave says:

    I have had a lower back injury just over a year ago. I have recovered from it however bent over rows and deadlifts are of concern (I injured it doing a deadlift). What’s the best alternative to build my strength back up before reverting back to these exercises?

    • Steve says:

      You should probably consult a physical therapist, but I’ll give you my $.02 too. I think you should use hamstring curls, the glute ham raise, cable rows, leg press, and eventually 1 leg deadlifts with low or no weight and high reps. You will have to build the strength back slowly using bodyweight, cables, and bands. Don’t push it, whatever you do.

      • pete says:

        try good mornings or RDLs for the hams and lower back…lying leg curls suck unless u want to be bodybuilder…imo

        • Steve says:

          I don’t mind single leg curls, especially if the machine allows you to stand rather than lay down, but I don’t use them every week. It’s more of a finishing movement for me at the end of a hamstring workout that I use maybe twice a month.

  14. Willie says:

    I have read this article for several times considering i have been practicing bad back bonw posture during lifting training. Gain few useful tips here for my personal training. Thanks.

  15. Like the article, the back is often overlooked by women especially. Have you thought of distributing these videos via other media sharing sites?

  16. Alan says:

    I have always been puzzled about deadlifts. I have always tried to do some variation (traditional, romanian/straight-leg, barbell hack squat) on legs day. Should I switch to back day?

    • Steve says:

      You can keep a Romanian or stiff leg deadlift as the second or third exercise on leg day; that way you can prioritize squats on leg day. Move conventional deads to back day, and make sure you have at least a 48 hour window between leg day and back day.

  17. Daniel says:

    i do full body workouts and for my back a usually start with 2 sets of 10 reps chinups then 2 sets of bb rows at 10 reps 48 hours later i do 2 sets chins 10 reps then 2 sets of one arm rows at 10 reps then the third day i do 2 sets of pull ups 10 reps then 2 sets of cable rows at 10 reps…dont worry i do stiff leg deads monday then bent leg wednesday and good mornings for friday…always need deadlifts…but i want to know if you would have another recommendation to replace cable rows? and is my back getting a decent workout with this routine?

    • Steve says:

      Instead of cables rows, consider t-bar rows with a t-bar machine, or t-bar rows by sticking an olympic bar in a corner and using a neutral grip cable row bar. Also consider pronated barbell rows versus supinated barbell rows. You can also do 1 arm or 2 arm cable rows, and you can row high (to the shoulder), mid, and low (to the hip).

      • Daniel says:

        Thank you Steve for your quick reply….I like sticking to free weights and wanted to get another workout to replace cable rows. i also want to point out great website very helpful i follow alot of your information.

  18. Daniel says:

    i see you have not mentioned inverted rows. a friend of mine introduced me to these a while ago and wanted to to know what you think of them and if they really work?

    • Steve says:

      I like inverted rows for warming up, circuits, or for NAT training. As will push-ups, they don’t have any practical use for building muscle or strength because most people can do 20+ reps.

  19. Samuel says:

    All great mass builders here; however, where would you place pull overs? They’ve always received high esteem for working the lats and broadening the rip cage.

    • Steve says:

      Pull overs don’t broaden your rib cage. This is a myth. They do work the lats, serratus, and chest to some degree. I don’t put pull overs in any list of the top 5 best exercises. They are more for fun than for anything else.

  20. Dean says:

    Really like the site, keep up the good work!!
    re bend over rows…….
    It is my impression, after much research and error, that the best row movement(some might say the only way to row) is the pendley row. This does not require a box, requires little control on the negative motion as all the focus is on the explosive positive motion, lifting a dead weight from the floor for each rep. That’s how I’ve been rowing for some time now and it’s working very well. Any thoughts?

    • Steve says:

      The pendlay row is great. I’ve also had sweet results from rowing without resetting the bar between reps. I don’t think you can go wrong with bent over rows no matter how you perform them.

  21. Anthony says:

    Steve, you sound like an arrogant pr!ck! How about giving some of our questions some thought before posting some of your comments. Some advice right up and a little helpfulness instead of arguing our opinions and trying to compete against everyone..douchebag

    • Steve says:

      Oh really? Well I’m sorry you feel that way. If you knew me, you’d know that I am not at all arrogant, in fact I try to humble myself at all times. You are the 1 person in 20,000 comments and emails who thinks I am a douchebag, and in the outside world nearly everyone likes me. Everyone else on this forum thanks me for my opinions. So why should I listen to you when clearly you’ve got a hair across your ass today. Here is a simple solution: you don’t like me or my comments? Go away then. No one asked you to come here. Thanks for your feedback.

  22. David Boivin says:

    Great article. Its refreshing to hear someone else strongly encourage chins or what I also have been referring to as (Verticle body weight exercises.) There is nothing better than jumping on a bar and pulling up your body weight for countless reps. I use three grips for variation..neutral grip under grip and the conventional wide grip. Very seldom do I even walk near a cable pulldown machine. I have split my back routine. Sunday is verticle, all the rowing and Tuesday, on my chest day, I superset chins and pulldowns with flyes. My back has recovered from sunday and I'm able to train to the max horozontally and vertically by splitting them up. Give it a try.

  23. Emily Jones says:

    Quite appealing workout.

  24. Mark Jackson says:

    Excellent list of 5 best back exercises. I prefer the “One Arm Dumbbell Rows”. By performing the One Arm Dumbbell Row you can work one side of the body at a time isolating your lats and lifting the weight higher as you are not restricted by a barbell bar, allowing your lats to fully contract. The One Arm Dumbell Row also works the shoulders and biceps.

  25. Robert Taylor says:

    going to do all these.

  26. Dave heath says:

    I like this website because it lists everything i used to do to get bigger and it all works. i used to lift lke crazy and got my back from a 38inch, to a 43inch back. Anthony ur a ratard lol. U should add more exercizes nd vids to ur web site besides back workout, like leg workout or somthin. Ive never really been able to get my legs bigger , i always seem to pull somthin. Any suggestions?

  27. cody says:

    i’m trying to gain muscle mass and get stronger, but i’m in the marine corps and i have do a lot of running. i understand deadlifting and squatting are two very important powerlifts essential to getting stronger, but i don’t want to deadlift or squat because it would kill me in a run, is there any way of getting around this?

    • Steve says:

      Why do you think deadlifting and squatting would kill you in a run. A couple max effort attempts a week won’t be bad for you. If you are that concerned, focus more on 5 rep max or even 20 rep squat sets. Keep running, and you will continue to improve in that area as well.

  28. Gorkem says:

    I cannot do pull-ups for my lat exercise. I want to get stronger. Do you advise me to do pull-downs?
    Thanks!

    • Steve says:

      Start with pull downs, but always try at least one pull up. Jump up to the bar, hang for a second, and let yourself down slowly. Soon you will be doing pull ups on your own. Also, chin ups are frequently easier than pull ups. Might want to start with chin ups.

  29. Gorkem says:

    Thanks for your help Steve. There is one important point I want to make. In your website, you don’t mention “always to feel the target muscles working”, like a few seconds both in positive and negative phases of exercises. Is that true? I haven’t seen a single person doing that, except myself, in gyms for 15 years. All people just do exercises very fast, like half a second in positive and half a second in negative. (My aim is strength and power.) What do you advise to all of us? I think this is the most important point in working out, doing exercises(motions) slowly so you can “feel it”.

    • Gorkem says:

      Steve, your comments on my message above?

    • Steve says:

      Lifting slowly to increasing TUT (time under tension) is usually a technique reserved for bodybuilding. That is to say, if you want to increase muscle size you want to train slower, but even then I do not advise you to overuse this technique, especially if you have not built a legit strength base.

      In order to build strength and power, you need to train will maximal acceleration, and target the weak spots within the execution of each rep. Training explosively with exercises like jump squats, plyo push ups, and Olympic lifts, will help you to build power. Training acceleration through dynamic lifts and by using bands and chains, will help you build speed. Added power plus added speed equals added strength.

  30. Yoseph Beyene says:

    Hi there,I really admire your why of explaining about the best 5 exercise and the depth of your knowledge about each and every part of our back muscle. Thx!!!!!

  31. Gorkem says:

    Hey Steve! Thanks for your comment.

    My aim is actually having a fit and lion-like physique without screwing up my proportions and my symmetry. That is why I am not doing bodybuilding, but working for strength(however with slow motions, “feeling” the exercises) This and 10 minutes of intense cardio after workouts really shaped up my body within a month. I want the pumped look just like after workouts and especially after taking a shower(showers make my body look great for some reason). Please help me out. My aim is a lion-like physique. I don’t want extra weight, my hard weight is excellent. I just want my muscles looking great, however you call it. What can I do? Is working for strength suitable for my purpose? It really tones and shapes up my body.
    Waiting for your reply…

  32. Gorkem says:

    What I mean is that I want to increase muscle size without hypertrophy(without adding weight). Would working with 5 reps and 3 minutes rest be excellent for this purpose?(this is for strength purposes I guess)
    Within a month my body transformed to a large and broad(hard of course, without fat) body by working this way. What do you advise to me?
    Thanks…

    • Steve says:

      You can’t increase muscle size without gaining weight unless you also lose fat or some other bodily component at the same time. You can increase the density of your current muscle mass through power and strength training, if that’s your goal. 5 reps and 3 minutes rest will help with this, but it’s not the only solution you should use.

  33. Gorkem says:

    Are you alive Steve?

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