Build a Beautiful Back – 3 Key Exercises

woman doing rows to strengthen back musclesIt’s not surprising that many of us don’t leverage back strengthening exercises to work on the posteriors of our bodies as much as we should – we can’t see them in the mirror! And yet, back muscles are involved in so much we do.

The muscles supporting your spine are key to everyday movements from sitting up to carrying a child. Whether you’re an athlete or a desk worker: build your back to feel and look better!

Ready to be fit and focus on working your back at the gym? An easy approach is to learn a few basic back-strengthening exercises that will help with both strength and mobility. You can use three pieces of strength equipment to do the following exercises a couple of times per week and get great results.


You can hit just about every muscle in your back by doing a seated row—trapezius, latissimus, rhomboid, teres, and the deeper erector spinae too. This back strengthening exercise is just what it sounds like: you’ll be sitting down and reaching forward to row back. Remember to hold those abs, too.

  1. Sit in the seated row machine with a straight back.
  2. Grasp the handles using a neutral grip (palms facing each other).
  3. Reach forward with your torso, keeping your back straight, and extend your arms.
  4. Pull the handles toward your body using the muscles in the upper back and drawing the shoulder blades back, while keeping elbows in and close to your side.
  5. Pause, reverse the motion and return to the starting position.


Not only is this exercise a terrific compliment to the seated row, studies have found that the following version (wide grip and pulling down to the front) is one of the most effective back strengthening exercises you can do.

  1. Sit at the lat pulldown station with a straight back.
  2. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip (palms facing away), with arms straight and hands slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  3. Pull your shoulders back and down and you lower the bar toward your chest.
  4. Keep your elbows in and pull down in a slow, controlled motion.
  5. Pause, then slowly return to starting position.


Whether you work in a sedentary environment all day, or do a lot of heavy lifting, you might feel the effects of a weak link in your lower back. This back strengthening exercise works the muscles all the way up the spine, and does a good job helping strength the core at the lower back.

  1. Position yourself face down on the Roman chair with your upper thighs on the pad, so you can bend freely at the waist.
  2. Place your ankles under the roller pads and extend your body to a straight line with your arms crossed over your chest.
  3. Keeping your shoulders back and the chest flat throughout the exercise, slowly lower your torso and head toward the floor.
  4. Engage your abdominals and slowly extend back up to the starting position, maintaining the line of your spine.
  5. Pause at the top extension, then repeat.

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