The Best Exercises for Bodybuilding for a Beastly Back


Effective bodybuilding is only as good as a strong posterior, and we mean upper body posterior. Spine and back health is huge for numerous reasons, plus a giant back is pivotal for a next-level physique. Building your latissimus dorsi and your trapezius muscles via bodybuilding back training is time well spent, and MUTANT has the exercises you need to become an absolute beast.

To acquire a gargantuan back, you want to focus on all the major muscles in the posterior chain of your upper body. Below are the top back exercises to build your back like a seasoned bodybuilder. Let’s get to it.

Bodybuilding Back Workouts 

Bent Over Rows

Bent-Over Row

The bent-over row is an excellent movement to add size to your lats and traps. Moreover, you can superset them with an upright row for direct trapezius activation without pausing and switching up equipment. 

To perform a bent-over row, grip the barbell with an overhand grip, standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Then, hinge at the hips — about 45 degrees — with the barbell hanging in front of your thighs. Lift the barbell along your legs and torso, bringing the center of the bar towards your navel to engage your upper back muscles. Pause at the top briefly before slowly bringing the barbell back down. Repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.

Lat Pulldown Variations

A classic bodybuilding back exercise, the lat pulldown allows for latissimus dorsi isolation without too much tiring of the biceps. Plus, you can add serious weight to this movement over time, translating directly to overall back size.

You can vary the focus by switching up your grip for the lat pulldown, depending on which muscles you want most engaged. Wide, close, underhand, overhand, the possibilities are nearly endless. For example, a close underhand grip will activate more of your biceps and rhomboids, while a wide pronated grip will emphasize the lats. 

Chest-Supported Rows

Another high-weight, high-volume exercise for a beastly back is chest-supported rows. This is a specialized machine where you lie prone on a bench and grip a bar below the bench. This removes the need to stabilize yourself with your upper body, making it a pure back movement. As you load 45-pound plates onto the ends of the bar, you’ll notice severe changes in your back physique.

This is a horizontal row movement, where you pull it straight up from the ground. While this might seem like overkill after bent-over rows, it’s helpful to row with various angles to attack different spots of the back. 

Pull-Overs Variations

Pull-overs and pull-over variations require a cable machine. You set the cable attachment — a small bar grip — at the top of the tower, bend at the hips, and pull the attachment down in front of your body to your thighs. As you drive it down, you’re engaging the “wings” of your back, helping you grow width to your lats. This can be altered based on the attachment/grip angle, as well as the angle of your body. 

Bodybuilding Lower Back Exercises 

The exercises above will build you solid lats and rhomboids, but you must include some lower back exercises in your routine. The lower back plays a pivotal role in the deadlifts. In addition, lower back pain is prevalent, and strengthening those muscles will prevent injury and alleviate pain. 

Hyperextensions & Bird Dogs

Hyperextensions will allow you to load your lower back via your bodyweight or a weight plate without placing too much pressure on your back — which is essential when training your lower back to prevent injury. 

While bird dogs don’t target your lower back directly, they engage essential muscles to prevent lower back pain — your core and glutes.  Many PTs prescribe their patients this movement as a rehab exercise to alleviate lower back pain due to its low impact and beginner-friendly stability challenges. 

It’s also another movement that’s easy to load progressively over time. All of these exercises are only effective if you continue to get stronger in all of them. The more consistently you go to the gym and lift these movements while continuing to increase the weight everywhere, your back will grow. Pair that with high-quality rest and ample protein, and you’ll acquire a back everyone will be jealous of.

Article by Terry Ramos