10 Effective Exercises That’ll Reward You With a Wider Back

If you only focus on your chest while training at the gym, and think that this will give you a wider look, you are mistaken. This training might give you a muscle imbalance instead of the shape you’re looking for, so it’s important to remember to develop your whole upper body. Training your back has a lot of benefits, among which are improved posture, a stronger core, and a stunning look. All you need to do is choose the right exercises and perform them systematically, and the results will show up in no time.

Bright Side wants to help you on your path to achieving a fit and healthy body. We prepared 10 exercises that are perfect for developing your back muscles and adding volume to them. Time to try them all!

1. One-arm dumbbell row

The one-arm dumbbell row is good for your lats, traps, rear deltoids, and triceps. For this exercise you will need a flat bench and a dumbbell.

Initial position: Place your left knee on a flat bench, your other leg stays on the floor. Your torso should be bent forward and parallel to the floor. Support yourself with your left hand placed on the bench.

What to do:

  • Grab a dumbbell with your right hand (your palm should be facing in), keep your back straight, and arm extended.
  • Bend your arm at the elbow and bring the dumbbell up to your chest. While doing this, you should feel the tension in your back and shoulder muscles instead of in your arms.
  • When you reach the top, squeeze your shoulder and back muscles. Hold the position for a couple of seconds.
  • Slowly start putting your hand down until your arm is fully extended.
  • Repeat 40 times and switch to the other arm.


2. Close grip pull-ups

Close grip pull-ups are one of the variations of pull-up exercises, and they help to build the lats and biceps. You will need a pull-up bar to perform these.

Initial position: Grab the pull-up bar with your hands placed shoulder-width apart, thumbs pointed at each other, and a straight spine.

What to do:

  • Breathe in, squeeze your glutes and bring some tension to your shoulder blades.
  • Your elbows should be pointing straight down to the floor and your lats should be activated.
  • Bring your chin toward the bar, pulling your body up.
  • Slowly bring your body back to the initial position.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.


3. Wide-grip pull-ups

Wide-grip pullups work on your back, chest, shoulders, and arms. You will need a pull-up bar for these too.

Initial position: Grab the pull-up bar with a grip that is wider than your body — your body and hands should form a “Y” shape together. Thumbs pointed at each other, spine straight.

What to do:

  • Breathe in, squeeze your glutes, and bring some tension to your shoulder blades.
  • Bring your chin toward the bar, pulling the whole body up.
  • Slowly lower your body back down to the initial position.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.


4. Standing cable pullover

The standing cable pullover is good for working out your back, chest, and tricep areas. For this exercise you will need a cable machine and a cable attachment.

Initial position: You will need a cable machine with a small bar attached to the top pulley to perform this exercise. Grab the bar, keep your back straight, and make sure your hands are shoulder-width apart.

What to do:

  • Make sure your arms are at the same level and start pulling the attachment down in an arc.
  • While doing this, squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your core tight.
  • As the attachment reaches your tights, pause for a couple of seconds, and slowly return to the initial position.
  • Repeat 30-40 times.


5. Reverse grip bent-over rows

Reverse grip bent-over rows work out your middle back. You will need a barbell for this exercise.

Initial position: Stand straight, with a slight bend in your knees, bend at your waist, and bring your torso forward. Your back should be straight and your head should be kept up. Hold the barbell right in front of you and keep your arms perpendicular to the floor.

What to do:

  • Keep the torso motionless, breathe out, and lift the barbell. Your elbows should be kept close to your body.
  • After you bring the barbell up, squeeze your back muscles, and hold this position for a couple of seconds.
  • Then very carefully bring the barbell down to your initial position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Warning: People with back problems should not perform this exercise.

Tip: You can use dumbbells instead of a barbell to perform this exercise.

6. Straight-arm dumbbell pullover

Straight-arm dumbbell pullover is a simple yet effective exercise for your back muscles, chest, arms, and abs. You will need a moderately heavy dumbbell and a flat bench for it.

Initial position: Lay across a flat bench. Your feet should be at shoulder-width and placed apart. Only your upper back should touch the bench.

What to do:

  • Get a dumbbell. Put your hands up behind your head.
  • Release the weight of the dumbbell and let it go as low as you can while holding it with your hands.
  • Make sure you squeeze the muscles at the top of the motion and your wrists should be kept straight.
  • Repeat 30-40 times.


7. Lat pulldown

The lat pulldown exercise works out your lats. You will need a cable machine with a wide bar attached to the top pulley to perform this exercise.

Initial position: Sit down on the bench of the cable machine and grab the pulley bar with your hands placed wider than a shoulder-width (in a wide grip). Your hands should be straight, and the bar should be over your head. Lean your torso back at a 30 degree angle, while your chest is pulled forward.

What to do:

  • Breathe out, pull the bar down toward your upper chest, and bring your shoulders and upper arms back.
  • As you get into this position, squeeze the back muscles and hold for a couple of seconds.
  • Make sure that your upper torso is stationary and that your arms are the only things that are moving.
  • Relaxing your shoulder blades, slowly bring the bar back to the initial position, fully extending your arms. Inhale.
  • Repeat 50-60 times.


8. Seated cable low row

The seated cable low row is good for working out your middle back muscles. You will need a low pulley row machine with a V-bar for this exercise.

Initial position: Sit on the machine and slightly bend your knees so that you can reach the handle with your arms stretched out, but without rounding your back.

What to do:

  • Pull the attachment toward your torso, driving your elbows toward your hips.
  • Your head, back, and spine should be aligned. Your chest is elevated and your whole core is engaged.
  • When the attachment is near your torso, engage your lats and shoulder blades and hold this position for a couple of seconds.
  • Slowly pull the attachment back returning to the initial position.
  • Repeat 30-40 times.


9. Inverted bodyweight row

The inverted bodyweight row targets your middle back area. You will need any bar that you can adjust to your waist height or a smith machine for this exercise.

Initial position: Adjust your bar to your waist height and grab it with your arms positioned wider than shoulder-width. Your body should be underneath the bar, heels on the ground, arms fully extended, and your body should be straight.

What to do:

  • Engage your shoulder blades, and pull the torso and body up.
  • Hold the position for a couple of seconds.
  • Slowly return to the initial position.
  • Repeat 20 times.


10. Straight-arm pulldown

The straight-arm pulldown exercise develops your lats, upper back, rear deltoids, triceps, chest ,and core. You will need a cable station and a rope handle attached to a high pulley.

Initial position: Once your rope handle is attached to the high pulley of a cable station, grab the ends in your hands, and face the station. Pull your shoulder blades back, together, and down. Pull your ribs down, tuck your tailbone under, and brace your core.

What to do:

  • Move your hips back forming 30-45 degree angle with your body.
  • Your arms are in front of you, fully extended. You should feel the tension in the cable and in your back muscles. Put your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • In an arcing motion, very slowly bring your arms down until your hands align with your hips. Your elbows should be locked down!
  • Hold this position for a couple of seconds, then slowly return to your initial position.
  • Repeat 25-30 times.

While performing this exercise, it’s important to keep your elbows fully extended and locked. If you start bending, your triceps will get involved and this will reduce the positive effect on your lats.

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