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The Back Workout Routine To Help You Get Stronger

workout
(Image credit: Unknown)

Pull-up

Sets 4 Reps 8-12 Rest 2min

Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder width. Hang with arms straight, pointing your legs slightly in front of you. Pull up till your elbows touch your ribs and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Pause and lower slowly back to a dead hang.

Pull-down

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 90sec

Grasp the bar with a wide grip. Pull through your elbows until you’re able to squeeze both your lats and your shoulder blades together. Slowly raise the bar again until your arms are extended and back in the starting position.

3A Long-arm pull-down

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Place the cable arm at the top and select the rope attachment. Hold the rope with arms straight so they are at a 45˚ angle to your body and stand back with your feet just outside shoulder-width apart. Engaging your lats, pull the weight down in a smooth arc until your hands are between your legs. Return slowly to the starting position.

3B Seated cable row

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 90sec

Hold the handle with your palms facing down and a slight bend in your knees so they don’t lock out. Keeping your chest up, retract your shoulder blades and create a slight arch in your lower back. Then pull through your elbows until they reach your sides and your palms are facing inwards.

4A Face pull

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Hold a rope attachment at upper chest height with your palms facing down. Keeping your chest up, retract your shoulder blades and pull the rope towards your face while imagining you’re trying to pull the rope apart. Pause in the fully contracted position and squeeze your rear delts and upper back. Then return to the starting position.

4B Inverted row

Sets 4 Reps 12 Rest 90sec

Lie under the bar which should be set just above where you can reach from the ground. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip and contract your abs, trying to keep your body straight from shoulders to feet. Pull yourself up to the bar until your chest touches it. Pause for a second, then slowly lower back to the starting position.

Back Workout Tips

Set your scapulae

“Scapular flying, where the shoulder blade seems to come away from the back, can be a problem when doing pull-ups because it can lead you into a neck-straining position,” says Ben Scott (opens in new tab), a former professional cricketer turned performance and fat loss specialist . “Set your shoulder blades before you start by moving them as if trying to slot them into your back pocket. This should give you retraction and depression that frees up the use of the traps.”

Train your grip

“A lot of people overlook the benefits of working on grip strength,” says Scott. “A stronger grip will actually boost your overall performance and increase your ability to pull more weight. Pull-ups are a fantastic functional movement and the number one reason for failure is the grip. Use straps when you absolutely need to, but save them for the last set so you’re training your grip the rest of the time.”

Go full range

“I’ll often see people load up too much weight on back moves, so that the main bulk of the lifting is done right at the beginning of the movement and momentum carries them through until halfway through the eccentric phase,” says Scott. “Use a weight that allows you to work to the proper tempo through the full range, and aim to hold your chest to the bar for two seconds at the end of every pull-up, to check that you can.”

Joel Snape
Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.