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4 exercises to strengthen the back

  • Posted by Catherine Tumelty
  • 15 August 2017

1. Deadlift

This movement is the king of all back movements. It engages muscles from your calf & ankle complex all the way up to the trapezius and neck muscles. Improving your deadlift strength also transfers across to a lot of other posterior chain movements such as the squat & any rowing and pulling patterns.

How to: Begin by hinging at the hips so that you are maintaining a neutral spine as you lower your chest over the bar. Your feet should be just inside shoulder width and grip outside the knees. As you pick the barbell up, emphasize leg drive by pushing your heels through the floor whilst you retract your shoulder blades. Once you have completed the movement, lower back to the ground whilst maintaining correct posture, and repeat for desired reps.


2. Pull Up

This movement activates the latts, posterior deltoids and biceps and is a very popular exercise. Whether you need some assistant via resistance bands or if you want to add some weight for an extra challenge, there is a variation for everyone.


How to: Start by holding onto a pull up bar at shoulder width with a dead hang. Retract your shoulder blades and pull yourself up so that your chin is above the bar, then lower yourself back down to a dead hang starting position. Full range of motion is important here to ensure we are activating the correct muscle groups.


3. Barbell Pendlay Row

This movement is considered a progression to your typical bent over row. It activates rhomboids, posterior deltoids, trapezius & also stabilizes through the lumbar erectors, glutes and hamstrings due to its bent over nature.


How to: Start with the barbell on the floor like the deadlift previously mentioned. Get yourself into the starting deadlift position – Hinge the hips with shoulders over the barbell with a neutral spine. Maintain this position as you row the barbell into the bottom of your rib cage. It’s key to keep your elbows in close to your body to optimally activate the upper back muscles. Then lower the barbell back to the ground.


4. TRX Plank

Having good core foundation supports a strong and healthy back. This exercise is the progression of a normal floor plank and is great to add a little bit of instability to the movement for an extra challenge.


How to: Position your feet in the foot cradles facing away from the anchor point of the TRX. Have your forearms vertical and shoulder width apart on the floor. As you raise your hips off the floor into position, it’s important that you maintain tension through your glutes, quads & core. Try this exercise for 3 x 10 seconds with a 10 second rest in between.