Just in terms of sheer size, our back is arguably the biggest contributor to our structural composition. So I am always confused by the lack of emphasis that seems to be put on it. So many people want to talk about getting bigger arms or more defined abs and the back is pushed down the queue. But it is important to try not to neglect any part of your workout, particularly one that incorporates such a large percentage of your muscles!
Sometimes you will hear about the back being spoken about as if it is one whole section of muscle. But from a training perspective it best to consider it in three sections: the upper, middle and lower back. So your upper back is mainly your trapezius, the middle of your back includes your rhomboids and lats and your lower back is where you will find the erector spinae muscles. Certain exercises will train multiple muscles in the back of course but it is best to focus on each three areas individually if you want to build strength and increase size.
I started off this piece by saying that the back appears to be less celebrated than some of the other muscles of our body but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of exercises that you could be doing. Now clearly these aren’t all the exercises that will help but hopefully it will give you an idea about the sorts of things you could be doing.
So let’s start with lats. Pull-ups are probably the most obvious place to start. There is a little crossover here to but you are primarily training the middle. The thing to remember is that you don’t need to rush on the way back down, that is part of the exercise too. So slowly resist gravity in order to get the most out of it. Other exercises you might want to try include chin ups, bent-over rows, shrugs or even muscle-ups, depending on how advanced you are with your training.
When it comes to your upper back, while most of the exercises for lats will help, the important thing to focus on is elevating shoulders. If that is happening then you are almost definitely going to be working on your traps. So if you’re a weightlifter then any sort of clean is going to be effective, as well as most throwing exercises too.
That leaves the lower back. This is probably the most commonly injured part of the back so you need to be careful with what you do. The chances are that deadlifts and squats are already part of your workout and if they are then you already have two of the best exercises for your lower back covered. If you want to work on your flexibility then bridging is good too but obviously this won’t be possible for everyone.
So the back might not become one of the trophy muscles anytime soon but don’t let that put you off focusing on it a little bit more. When you are talking about such a large group of muscles it is important that you are doing everything right.
If you would like to have a professional design you a bespoke training programme for you to follow, as well as a nutrition plan, get in touch with Ollie Lawrence Personal Trainer today for more information.
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