Best Back Exercises to Build Those Traps, Rhomboids, Rear Deltoids, Lats, and More

I think you’ll agree with me when it’s said that building back muscle is easier said than done. It’s one of the hardest muscle parts that takes time. Many even neglect like legs – of course, it’s hidden, who will see it.

However, those gym addicts that hit back regularly, like any other body parts, often can’t train it optimally. If you do one or two pulling movements and not getting into details, you’re likely missing a big part of the musculature. It’s not easy to choose the best back exercise because the back isn’t simply one muscle.

For example, you trained your lats, but you didn’t pay heed to rhomboids. You nailed your traps, but teres major and minor left out. Yes, these all muscles altogether make one big back.

Similarly, different muscles of the back respond differently to loading schemes. For example, if you’re training the lats, it’s good to go heavy, and if you’re training deltoids, it’ll respond best to metabolic stress and higher reps. So, it’s obvious that there’s no one best way to build back muscle as the back is a group of muscles, and each responds differently.

Another important thing to note is that back muscle should also be prioritized equally, like arms and shoulders. It helps in various ways, such as improving your posture, boosting strength for other lifts such as bench press on the international chest day Monday. Stabilizing shoulder joints, and of course, the favorite of many V-shaped torso.

10 best back exercises

Now, if you’re ready and wondering what’s the best back exercise, don’t worry, we’ve your back. Here we’ve listed 10 best back exercises to build not only your back muscles, but it’ll also target other muscles like arms.

Here’re the 10 Best Back Exercises to Build Muscle

Don’t forget that picking the best back workouts is one small part of moving towards a huge back. And your overall workout routine is equally important. So, while focusing on the back, don’t lose focus on other workouts that you should be doing. And below is the list of 10 different best back exercises:

1. Barbell Deadlift
2. Barbell Bent Over Rowing
3. Pull-Ups
4. Single Arm Dumbbell Rowing
5. Standing T-bar Rowing
6. Inverted Rowing
7. Lat Pulldown
8. Farmers Walk
9. Wide Grip Seated Cable Rowing
10. Hyperextension

1. Barbell Deadlift

The king of compound exercises, the barbell deadlift, is a full-body exercise that hits your whole posterior chain from calves, legs, back, shoulder, traps, arms. It’s considered among the best back workouts as it helps develop the overall backside of the body. The technique is important for this back exercise like you should keep your torso straight and avoid rounding your lower back. And, if you fail to do so, the risk of injuries occur. And, if you’re using the right technique, you’ll start lifting those monstrous weights that recruit maximum muscle while releasing muscle-building hormones that help you get big.

barbell deadlift

It’s also suggested that you stick to traditional deadlift movement on your back days. You can try other variations like sumo-style on non-back days for the increased muscle-group activity. Lastly, if you prefer heavy sets such as 6 reps per set, it’s best to do it first in your exercise or keep it for later if you’ll do high-rep set.

Here’s How to Do Barbell Deadlift

  • Squat down and get the barbell.
  • Take the proper position – hold the barbell with your hands with shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your feet shoulder feet apart.
  • Keep your chest up, shoulders pulled back, and look straight ahead.
  • Now, lift the weight back onto your heels while keeping the bar close to the body.
  • Lift to the thigh level, pause for a moment, and return to the starting position.


  • Keep your back straight all the time.
  • For lifting: Imagine you’re doing leg press or squats. Here, you’ll do the same. For lifting the weight, push your feet on to the ground as you do during squats. Your hands will be used only as a hook, and throughout the moment, keep your back straight.

2. Barbell Bent Over Rowing

Bent over barbell rowing is the second most exercise that’s considered among the best back exercise, and it’s even the one that allows you to lift a sheer amount of weight. It works on the larger muscle groups of the upper and lowers back equally, making it one of the best overall back builder exercise. It helps recruit more muscle along with further growth. Through bent over barbell rowing, your middle & lower traps, rhomboid major & minor, upper traps, rear deltoids, and even rotator cuff muscles get activated, making it the best exercise for the upper back.

barbell bent over rowing

Also, if you’re doing home workout and don’t have access to a barbell, and don’t know which are the best back exercises with dumbbells, you can consider doing dumbbell bent-over rowing, which works equally as an alternative.

Here’s How to Do Barbell Bent Over Rowing

  • Hold a barbell with an overhand grip while keeping your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your legs shoulder-width apart and slightly bent.
  • Position your back as you do for deadlift perfectly straight while avoiding rounding.
  • Bend your upper body till it gets perpendicular to the floor. In other words, hinge from the hips and knees and keep your torso low till it gets parallel to the floor.
  • Row the weight upwards towards your abdominal part while squeezing your shoulder blades towards each other.
  • Now, return to the start position.

3. Pull-Ups

It’s best to involve overhead pulling movement in your back workout, and the pullup is the best. Pullups are good for emphasizing your upper lats, especially wide grip pullups. The most challenging part of this exercise is to train until failure with the right rep range for growth, i.e., 8 to 12 rep ranges.

pull ups

If you’re an intermediate or advanced lifter, and you’re doing at the beginning of your back workout, it’s best to add some weight or else if you’re a total beginner and not comfortable doing pullups, take advantage of assisted pullup machine. If you don’t have a pullup machine in your gym, you can take help from someone to spot you. Lastly, you can even look for the alternative of this exercise, which is a wide grip pull-down, and if you’ve healthy shoulders, you can even pull behind your head.

Here’s How to Do Pull-Ups

  • Grab the pull-up station handles with your arms fully extended and palms facing away from you.
  • Keep your hand shoulder-width apart.
  • Exhale and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Drive your elbows towards your hips to lift your chin above the bar.
  • Lower down with control back to the starting position.

4. Single Arm Dumbbell Rowing

Single Arm DB is one of the best unilateral back exercises that allows you to work on each side of the lats independently. As it’s a unilateral movement, you get a greater range of motion. And, according to its position, you keep your one hand on a bench, which benefits to support your lower back. Also, allowing a slight rotation of the trunk may even activate your core muscles as well.

single arm dumbbell rowing

Another important thing to note about this exercise is avoiding dropping your shoulder at the bottom and making sure that your torso is in a locked position, so your back does the lifting and not your arm.

Here’s How to Do Single Arm Dumbbell Rowing

  • Get the flat bench and place your right hand against it, beneath your shoulder.
  • Position your arm straight.
  • Rest your right knee on the bench, and keep your other leg out to the side.
  • With another freehand, grab a dumbbell from the floor and row it up until your upper arms get parallel to the floor.
  • Now, lower it back to the starting position and repeat the same movement until your set is not completed.

5. Standing T-bar Rowing

The T-bar rowing is one of the classic and one of the best back exercises. It’s the same one that you saw Arnold doing in Pumping Iron. It involves your hips and lowers back for stabilizing your trunk when you perform this T-bar rowing movement using your upper back muscles.

For some maintaining a flat back becomes challenging. If that’s happening with you, you can go for the alternative, chest-supported T-bar rowing. Primary muscles worked with T-bar rowing are the Latissimus dorsi, Trapezius, Posterior deltoid, Rhomboids. In contrast, the secondary muscles involved with T-bar rowing are your spinal Erector, Hamstrings, Glutes, Core, Biceps, and Forearms. Lastly, it’s best to do it early in your workout.

standing t bar rowing

Here’s How to Do Standing T-bar Rowing

  • If your gym doesn’t have a landmine machine or else a classic T-bar rowing machine, then
  • Grab the barbell and place it at the corner of a room.
  • Rest some heavy DB or else weight plate to hold it down, or else adjust in a corner in a way that it can stay in a position.
  • Load the bar from the other end with plates and straddle it.
  • Now, bend over at the hips till your torso gets into a 45-degree position while keeping your arms extended.
  • Now, get the V-grip handle (found at cable station) and position it under the bar and hold it with both the hands.
  • Now, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the bar till the plates touch your chest. And, remember to keep your lower back in the same natural arch position, without rounding it.

6. Inverted Rowing

If you’re not good with pullups or chin-ups, this is another alternative. Though it may look easy, the inverted rows are not easy. It’ll kill your back and arms. To make it more difficult or easier, you can do it by simply re-adjusting your feet.

Similar to any other rowing and pulling variation, this inverted rowing also focuses on your overall back, arm strength, grip, and performance. It works on all of your pull muscles, traps, back, biceps, and the stabilizer muscles in between.

inverted rowing

Here’s How to Do Inverted Rowing

  • First, position yourself under a barbell in a squat rack or smith machine.
  • The placement should reflect the part you’re about to train. For instance, if you position yourself in a way that Bar sets over or below your lower pecs, your Lats will be activated. And, if the Bar is over the mid-upper pecs, then the upper back will be activated.
  • Grip the bar with a similar width as you do for a barbell rowing,
  • For executing this Inverted Rowing exercise, lift your hips from the ground in a neutral position, contract your scapula slightly, and begin the rowing movement.
  • Now, lower your body in a controlled fashion and maintain that posture at the bottom and repeat it.

7. Lat Pulldown

The Lat pulldown is an alternative to the pullups, that lets you adjust the weight you’re pulling. It’s one of the favorite bodybuilding workouts that help to build your lats. And, if you keep your tempo slow, it’ll further maximize your muscle growth. It’s one of the best back exercises that work on strengthening your latissimus dorsi muscle, which is also the broadest muscle of your back that helps in keeping good posture and spinal stability.

lat pulldown

Also, it’s among the most effective back workout that helps correct the rounded back and forward head posture, which is seen quite often.

Here’s How to Do Lat Pulldown

  • Adjust the pad of the lat pull-down machine on your thighs for minimizing the movement.
  • Grab the bar with a wide or close grip.
  • Look forward while keeping your torso upright.
  • Retract the shoulder blades and pull the bar down in front of your upper chest.
  • At the bottom, squeeze your lats while avoiding to lean back for making movement easier.

8. Farmers Walk

The farmers walk the best muscle building workouts that remove body fat and increases your strength performance in the big lifts. And at the same time, it has minimal risk of injury. The farmers walk counted among the safest and easiest workouts to do that offers numerous benefits. It helps strengthen your grip by working your wrists, hands, forearms, shoulders, etc. It builds a stronger back, bigger and boulder shoulder with the very little humbling walk.

farmers walk

Here’s How to Do Farmers Walk

  • Stand tall and hold the weights by your sides. (Could be kettlebells, dumbbells, or even farmers walk equipment)
  • Keep your shoulder tight and back straight.
  • Start taking quick and short steps and walk a set of distance, (Distance depends upon the size of your gym)

9. Wide Grip Seated Cable Rowing

As the name implies, it’s done in a seated position on a seated rowing machine or seated cable row machine. Wide grip seated cable rowing workout mimic some back machines, emphasizing the upper lats. It’s the best back workout for building upper body strength along with upper arms. Seated cable rowing is the compound movement that’s counted as a pulling exercise.

wide grip seated cable rowing

The targeted muscle of this workout is generally back, especially outside of your back. Still, other muscles that include working while doing this workout are the middle back (latissimus dorsi), between shoulder blades (rhomboids), neck, shoulder, and upper back (trapezius), and front upper arm (biceps brachii).

Here’s How to Do Wide Grip Seated Cable Rowing

  • Sit down facing the cable rowing machine.
  • Keep your feet on the footrests.
  • Now, grab the long bar, with the wider than shoulder grip.
  • Slide your bottom backward till your knees get straight.
  • Keep your torso leaned forward and arms fully extended.
  • Exhale while leaning back while keeping your back straight and pull the bar till your abdominal part.
  • Hold for a second and then slowly inhale and lean forward. Finally, go back to the starting position while keeping your arms extended, and lower back bent forward.

10. Hyperextension

A hyperextension also called back extension, is the best exercise for the lower back, mid and upper back, specifically for the erector spine. It’s one of the underrated exercises that should be stapled in your back routine. It helps strengthen your lower back muscle along with the erector spinae that supports your lower spine.


Here’s How to Do Hyperextension

  • Keep your thighs on the pad of the hyperextension machine.
  • Bend your knees slightly while keeping your feet safe.
  • Keep your foot in line with knees.
  • Extend your arms. Exhale and move up till your shoulders, spine, and hips gets inline.
  • Now, focus on your core and gently slide your shoulders back.
  • Inhale and bend down from the waist. Try to go down till you can touch the floor.

Wrapping Up

Strengthening back helps in various ways, and most importantly, it helps to live your daily routine without any difficulty. Here, we’ve chosen 10 best back exercises that can be helpful not only in strengthening your overall back muscles, but it’ll also help build muscles.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or experienced. You can workout using these exercises, or else if you’re an advanced lifter, you can adjust in your routine accordingly. Also, once you get familiar with these workouts, then it’s suggested that you start adding weights cautiously for progressing your muscular development.

Satinder Chowdhry Avatar

Satinder Chowdhry