Best Back Workouts for Women

Why Train your Back?

In order to get that sculpted body you’ve always wanted, training the muscles in your back is essential. Working out all sections of the back, primarily the latissimus dorsi, is a key element to widening your upper body. This gives your waist a narrower appearance and also helps to round your shoulders.

So what are the best exercises for training back? Because the back is such a large muscle group — it travels from the shoulder blades and sculpts downward to the tailbone — hitting these muscles with a lot of power and tension is crucial. Muscle needs to break and reform in order to grow, and since the back typically holds a lot of weight it needs even more weight applied to it to change it.

Using free weights are the best way to target any muscle group because it mimics typical, everyday movement. Training your back is no different. Using hand-held dumbbells and barbells are a key way to target your back. However, using some machines, such as a seated cable row or lateral pulldown, or iso-lateral strength machines, are prime elements in sculpting your back muscles.

Best Latissimus Dorsi (Lat) Exercises

Lateral Pulldown

image @ www.bodybuilding.com

This movement is best for beginners because it is a machine-based exercise. However, the amount of force that can be applied to the muscle is intense enough to sculpt the back to give that “winged” appearance and silhouette your waist.

This exercise can also be done with a single arm by using a handle attachment on the machine, which can more directly target any imbalances on the right versus left sides.

To perform this exercise:

  • Adjust the weight by moving the pin into the appropriate weight.
  • Hold the handles at either end with your thumbs facing upwards.
  • Keeping your chest up and your shoulder blades down and back, pull the bar
    down to the tip of your chest — the bar should come within an inch of your
    chest but not necessarily touch it.
  • Keep pressure on the bar as you let it up so that you don’t release the tension
    on the lats.
  • Do not let the bar back into the starting position because it will release the
    pressure on the muscle. Instead, keep your arms bent at at least fifteen
    degrees and begin the next repetition.
  • Complete for 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Barbell Row

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Any form of row is a great back builder because the bar needs to fight gravity. Any exercise that needs to fight gravity will add more tension to the muscle, which will tear more muscle fibers. Using a barbell is also a great tool because, like a dumbbell, it more closely resembles everyday movement and is more natural to the body.

This movement can also be done with an EZ Bar with the same motions. However, instead of placing it back on a spotter rack, keep your hold on the bar and continue through the full set (as shown above).

To perform this exercise:

  • Secure the spotter racks on either side of the squat rack at knee-height.
  • Load the barbell on either side with an appropriate weight — make sure it’s
    even on either side and that the clips are securely on!
  • Grip the bar with either a pronated (fingers facing downwards) or supinated
    (fingers facing upwards) grip.

    • a pronated grip will better target the lats and the elbows should be
      pointed outward.
    • a supinated grip will better target the rear delts, which are located
      over the shoulder blades, and the elbows should be pointed
      downward and close to the body.
  • Pull the bar from the spotter racks and up toward the chest while squeezing
    the back. Imagine that you’re trying to meet your elbows behind your back as
    you complete the movement.

    • The bar should meet at the lower chest.
  • Slowly release the bar back down to the starting position by placing it on the
    spotter rack.

    • This stopping motion allows the lats to be activated at the beginning
      of each repetition.
  • Complete for 4 sets of 6-10 repetitions.

Iso-Lateral Row

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This is another machine-based exercise, but the difference lies in the weight distribution. Instead of a weight rack you must load plates onto the machine, which can increase the tension applied to the muscle. Like any other machine-based back exercise, though, it can be performed with a single-arm to fix muscular imbalances.

To perform this exercise:

  • Load the machine on either side with an appropriate weight and fix the seat
    so that the cushion comes in line with your entire chest.
  • Hold the handles at either side with a pronated grip.
  • Tense your lats, keep your chest up, and keep your shoulder blades down and
    back as you pull the handles straight back. Again, imagine like you’re trying to
    make your elbows touch behind you as you complete the repetition.
  • Slowly release the handles forward so to not lose the tension on the muscle.
  • At the top of the movement, keep the arms bent to keep the muscle activated
    and begin the next repetition.
  • Complete for 4 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Seated Cable Rows

image @ www.zerostepsback.files.wordpress.com

Any variation of rows are a great way to directly target the back. It also has several variations and can be performed on several different machines. One of the easier movements can be performed on the low row machine while gripping either a handle attachment, a bar attachment, or a wide-handled bar attachment. Each attachment will target the back in a different place, but all have the same general form.

*A handle attachment will more closely target the rear delts and inner lats, a wide-handled bar attachment will target the outer sweep of the lats, and a bar attachment can target the outer lats with a pronated grip and the inner lats and rear delts with a supinated grip.

This exercise can also be performed with one hand to directly target muscular imbalances.

To perform this exercise:

  • Sit on the bench with your feet on the pads after setting the weight with the
    pin.
  • Grip the attachment with both hands with your thumbs facing upward and
    your hands in the same place on either side.
  • While bracing your feet against the pads, keeping your chest up, and your
    shoulder blades down and back, pull the attachment toward your lower chest.

    • Keep the attachment within an inch of your chest.
  • Release the attachment slowly to keep the tension on the muscle; at the end of
    the movement, your arms should remain at about a forty-five degree angle to
    withhold muscular tension.
  • Complete for 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Dumbbell Pullovers

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This is a relatively simple movement, but also a great back finisher because it demands intense pulling on the lats. The key to this movement is to choose a weight that is easy enough to move and hold without awkwardly rotating your shoulder, while also holding enough tension on the muscle to tear the fibers.

To perform this exercise:

  • Set yourself up on a bench with your shoulder blades resting on the bench
    and your feet far enough away to create a flat plank.

    • This movement can also be done by lying your entire body on a
      bench and hanging your arms off the end, but it takes a significant
      amount of tension off of the core.
  • Start with your hands cupping the dumbbell over your chest, body up in a
    plank position.
  • Bring the dumbbell back over your head while keeping your arms bent at
    roughly a forty-five degree angle to prevent unwanted tension on the
    shoulder.
  • Draw the dumbbell back until it’s about 2-3 inches from the floor behind you
    (this gives a great pull on the lats).
  • Brace your lats and pull the dumbbell back to the starting position. Keep your
    arms bent the whole time.
  • Complete for 4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Remember to Train Heavy!

What’s most important, and most intimidating, to women is the aspect of lifting heavy weights. Moving heavy weight is nothing to fear! The female body does not have enough testosterone to have that “bulky” look of a male who trains at the same intensity. Instead, training your muscles with heavy weight can: increase your metabolism, build muscle mass, reduce body fat, and give you those curves you’ve been chasing after.

While these back exercises can be effective while training with a lighter weight, the impact will not be the same. For maximum results, choose a weight that exhausts you by the sixth or seventh repetition for a set of 8-10. This ensures that the muscle is tired, torn, and able to be repaired.

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