BUILDING A BIG, STRONG BACK IS THE GOAL OF MANY GUYS IN THE GYM. BUT HERE IS WHY YOU SHOULD FOCUS ON YOUR BACK TO ACHIEVE MAXIMUM RESULTS FOR YOUR WHOLE BODY.
It is common for the back to go unattended when it comes to training as you can’t see it in the mirror, much like the glutes and hamstrings. However there are many reasons that you do not want to skip out on your back exercises. The back is made up of a number of muscles including the Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), Spinal erectors, trapezius and rhomboids. Without full development of these muscles performance will ultimately plateau, lifts will falter and injury will follow.
Poor posture is often caused by the imbalance of our chests and shoulders being worked more than the back, or by a weak back in general. Every time you slouch when standing or seated, your shoulder are rounded forward and this further weakens the underdeveloped muscles of your back and spine and can lead to neck and shoulder pain. When your middle and lower back muscles are weak then your are more likely to develop lower back pain. Strengthening the deeper muscles of the back, particularly the erector spinae, multifidus and quadratus lumborum, develops support for your spine and pelvis. This makes movement safer and more stable wether running a 5K, bench pressing a heavy barbell, moving furniture, carrying the shopping or twisting to pick up something you’ve dropped. So we need to ensure we are working the back fully and making the most out of these large groups of muscles.
TOP BENEFITS OF A STRONG BACK:
Being able to stand up straight and brace your stomach requires strong, resilient muscles along your spine and in your lower back. The stronger your back, the easier it is to maintain good posture throughout the day and during any activity.
A strong developed back means more power for movement. The back plays a huge role in how your entire body functions as it attaches to your hips, abdominals, chest, shoulders, and neck. Strengthening your back gives you additional power in all sports by stabilising your body.
A barn door back will make your waist look smaller, even if you haven’t lost an inch around your gut. Creating that V shape will help make you look slimmer without weight loss or any change to your waist.
You’ll notice when watching sprinters run that their arms swing about like mad, this helps your legs propel your body. While swinging your arms helps your legs, it is your back that supports and directs your arms and helps control their speed along with how fast you move.
The back plays a massive role in all strength exercises, even those not directly related to your back. The 3 biggest exercises for most folk in the gym will be the SQUAT, DEADLIFT and BENCH PRESS. Having a strong back will boost each and all of these lifts. During the squat and deadlift, the lats are used to stabilize the bar on your back as well as protect the spine and maintain an upright torso. In order to maintain proper position and not round your back, you need to engage the lats, which will help you drop your hips and bring your chest up. Like the squat and deadlift, during the bench press the lats work to provide stabilisation and help transfer force. One of the most overlooked aspect of bench strength is the leg drive. And in order to transfer that force from your legs to your chest you need to use your back.
When it comes to movements that help correct your posture the Farmers walk is top of the list. This exercise helps with alignment and the stability of your shoulders, hips and core. A great way to target the trapezius, improve grip strength and create a better connection with your back for lifting.
This movement will further help to eradicate muscular imbalances due to the iso lateral movement (one arm at a time). Unilateral movements like this train your stabilising muscles,which help to prevent injuries by providing optimal support and stability. Apart from helping you add mass to your entire back, this move can help eliminate back pain by making your core strong and reducing the risk of injury.
The seated row is one of the most effective exercises for targeting your back muscles and a study has shown that the seated row is superior to both wide grip and reverse grip pulldowns for activating the middle trapezius and rhomboid muscles. As it is machine based there is less chance of injury when you are tired and starting to fatigue. A benefit of the lever row compared to the free weight rowing alternatives is the ease in which a spotter can aid the athlete if they begin to fail on the exercise.
So give these a go and try 3 to 4 sets of each exercise for 8-12 repetitions and see what you’ve been missing out on.