Back Exercises

The Best Exercises for a Complete Back Workout

The back is comprised of four distinct muscle groups. Here's how to zero in on each one.


Lat Pulldown

Dustin Snipes / Pavel Ythjall 

Building Your Back Workout

  • Include one exercise that targets each area of your back in your routine.
  • To train for mass, after your warm-up sets, do 2-3 sets in the 8-12-rep range.
  • For strength, go heavy with low-rep sets (4-7 reps).
  • For muscle definition and endurance, go lighter and do high-rep sets (15-25 reps).

A mass workout that focuses on building outer lat width but still hits all areas of the back would look something like the chart below (not including warm-up sets). Rest 1-2 minutes between each set.

Exercise / Target Area Sets        Reps
Pull-Up (wide grip) / Outer Lats 3 12, 10, 8
Bentover Barbell Row (wide) / Outer Lats 3 8, 10, 12
Close-Grip Seated Cable Row / Middle Back          3 8, 10, 12
Reverse-Grip Pulldown / Lower Lats 3 12, 10, 8
Back Extension / Lower Back 3 12, 12, 12