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Exercises for Building a Bigger and Stronger Back

backpain exerciseprogramming physicaltherapy strengthtraining weighttraining Oct 23, 2019

Want a Bigger and Stronger Back?

Having a strong and muscular back does much more than just look cool.  While that is an added side effect, a stronger back can often equal healthy shoulders and lower backs.  Along with helping create healthy joints, a strong back will help improve athletic performance in sport and in the gym. 

While there are many muscles that make up the back that need to be considered when building a bigger and stronger back, some of the main muscles in the back include the upper, middle, and lower trapezius (or the traps), the rhomboids, and the latissimus dorsi (or lats). The main motions that help to strengthen these muscle groups are pulling exercises – such as rowing and pullup/pulldown movements.

Not sure where to start? Below are some of our favorite exercises for building a bigger and stronger back:

Pull-up Variations

In this video we go through a more challenging pull-up variation, but any pull-up or pulldown variation will do in this case. If you have pull-ups, train them and train them often. Vary your grip (narrow, normal, wide, chin-up) and work in variations such as these. If you don’t yet have pull-ups keep working on them while training other variations in the meantime such as banded pull-ups and machine pulldowns.

Straight Arm Pulldowns

Straight arm strength is one of the more overlooked areas to building a bigger and stronger back. Whether using bands as shown in this video, or a machine, these are ones to add into your next back day.


Reverse Fly

The reverse fly will target more of your upper back and posterior delts, both important areas to building your back.

Single Arm Row

Any and all row variations are a must for building a bigger and stronger back. We love single arm rows with our clients as it tends to identify any asymmetries and address them through the single arm variation.


Chest Supported Incline Row

These are often a more challenging row variation for people as it takes out any and all momentum and also forces you to row at a slightly different angle then you are commonly familiar with.


Bent Over Row

When it comes to loading up some weight and putting some true size and strength in your back, it’s hard to beat the bent over row. This compound movement really allows you to see some big improvements in strength and size. Mix up your variations to continue to challenge and progress.



While many think of deadlift as a leg exercise, there is probably no better way to build your back as it relates to function, size, and strength. Try holding 2-3x your body weight in front of you, with the shoulders staying pulled back and engaged, and tell me you don’t feel that back working like crazy.

While there are so many other variations and movements that are effective, we focused on just a few of our favorites.

Most people don’t know how to stay healthy and fit without getting hurt. At Inside Out Strength and Performance, we provide a clear plan to get you in the best shape of your life, without getting injured, so that you can be active and confident that you’ll feel your best for years to come.

We help North County San Diego’s active adults and runners dealing with pain or injury get back to living a pain-free, strong, and confident life.

We are the Strength Docs who help active adults and runners live a strong, confident, and pain-free life. Fill out our contact form here to get a clear plan and get started.

Follow the Bulletproof Body Exercise Program - A total fitness program that can be performed anywhere, designed by doctors, to help improve mobility, joint health, and strengthen key postural muscles to help you stay active with less pain or injury

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