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The BEST Exercises for Your Back

Have you ever wondered what the most effective ways to build back muscles are? There's so many exercises to choose from that it can be confusing to know exactly which ones will make your back stronger.

Over the last 16 years, I've done just about every back exercise. Granted, not all the variations, heck, I thought I knew them all but I'm continually shocked to learn a few new movements that make me sore again like a teenager who hits the weights for the very first time (breaks into Top 80's song by Madonna)....

After doing many back exercises myself, the most effective back exercises you can do are the following:

* Assisted wide-arm chin up (or regular pull ups) * Assisted chin up (or regular pull ups) * Barbell rows * Wide-arm lat pull downs * Close-grip lat pull downs * Dumbbell rows * Wide-arm cable rows * Close-grip cable rows

More important than that...

In that order! That's right. Not only are those a list of the most effective back exercise but they are in order of overall back development importance. Re-read this section again until it soaks in. While you might have 10,000 exercises to choose from, not all of them will be as effective in making your lats so wide it will be hard to walk thru the door.


If you want big barndoor lats, then pull ups are the king. Followed by barbell rows. You'll get a thick, strong back just with pull ups. Add in the barbell rows and you are doing the exercises most professionals do.

You will probably see a lot of males/females on the cable row machine. And much like squats, you'll only see a handful of people who can or will do pull ups on a regular basis.

Those are the ones who will have bigger and better developed backs then the cable rowers or the people who use those machines week after week. There's absolutely nothing wrong at all with variety but a common mistake so many people make is sticking with lesser known exercises and completely missing out on the foundational exercises.

Hopefully you know that if you want the best leg development possible, then you cannot beat squats. Just like squats hit all the muscle of the leg, pull ups will work all the muscles of the back.

Between the exercises listed above, you will be doing the top notch, fundamental exercises for overall back development and growth by doing pull movements and row movements. Your muscles will be forced to grow!

If anybody has ever told you that you 'have a hole in your back.' They won't after you start including these in your weekly line up.

And if you think you can only do one style of pull up it only takes a little imagination to realize that even pull ups can be varied quite a lot to hit the muscle from different angles. Even with rowing movements, you can row to the stomach for a completely different focus on muscle then if you row to the chest or row to the chin.

It's all back but the variety will really stimulate the area. Next time you do any rowing movements, think about where the bar is going. Lower, middle or higher. Each variation will help with development and keep you from hitting that dreaded plateau!

Not only will your back become stronger but you'll experience full development. That's exactly what you want to do. Variety and sticking with the basics.

Sound familiar? It is.

If you want the best back development, you'll include pull ups. And then pick and choose from the list above in terms of effectiveness after that. You can do any number of additional back exercises for variety and variation.

The truth is...

Many people cannot or will not do pull ups. But they will spend their time on every other machine or use all kinds of isolation exercises to work the back muscles. They are simply missing the point. Make sure you include pull ups and the other most effective exercises in your arsenal and you are almost guaranteed to boost your back development by a notch or two.

If you really want a challenge, see how many high quality pull ups you can do or add weight. You'll bring yourself to the next level.

Copyright 2005 Marc David

About The Author
Marc David is a bodybuilder and author of the, Beginner's Guide to Fitness and Bodybuilding. You can get info on Marc's e-book at: To get Marc's free e-zine, visit

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